Turkey features 82,693 mosques of which 3,113 are in Istanbul alone. Most of these mosques were built during Ottoman rule in Turkey. Istanbul has some of the most historical and iconic Ottoman mosques such as Sultanahmet Mosque and the Sulaymaniyah Mosque. But that’s not all. This post features the 9 most recommended mosques to visit in Istanbul.
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The blue mosque, also called Sultanahmet Mosque was built in the 17th century. It is one of the more peaceful mosques in Istanbul where you can hear the most amazing call for prayer. When inside the mosque, you will notice the vibrant mosaic tilework decorating the ceiling of the domes. This majestic architecture that tells the story of centuries of Islamic history and civilization. The mosque is open all day but not accessible for tourists at the time of Muslim prayers, 5 times a day. The entrance to the mosque requires removing the shoes and women are advised to put on a headscarf out of respect for the sacred place.
An underrated mosque in Istanbul. The Suleymaniye mosque is located on a hill offering a view of Eminonu Port. Although the mosque has a beautiful interior it does not receive as many tourists as the Blue Mosque. A place of endless peace, divine love, and ancient history, the mosque was built by the Sultan Suleyman (1520–1566) and it was named after him. Suleymaniye mosque has a spacious yard with a breathtaking sea view of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorous.
If you want to visit a historical Turkish mosque and spend some time on self-reflection, Fatih mosque is a great destination. The mosque is located in Fatih district. It was first but by the in the 15th century, seriously damaged by an earthquake then rebuilt in the 18th century. The mosque has a magnificent design inside and outside that represents the pinnacle of Turkish-Islamic architecture. There are wonderful local shops to visit nearby and benches to relax and enjoy the surroundings. People of all faiths are welcome to visit the mosque.
Hacia Sofia (Ayasofya)
The Hagia Sophia was built as a church during the Byzantine period in AD537, and it remained for 916 years until the Ottomans conquered Istanbul in 1453 turning it into a mosque. The masterpiece of its history is a symbol of co-existence, with its innovative architecture, rich history, religious significance, and extraordinary characteristics.
The Hagia Sophia continued to exist as a mosque during the Ottoman period and turned into a museum in 1935. Known for its original ceiling mosaics of the 6th century, the Hagia Sophia has 104 columns, some of which are brought from ancient cities and the four minarets known to be built by Mimar Sinan.
It was designed by the famous Ottoman architect, Mimar Sinan for Rustem Pasa, Grand Vizier to Süleyman The Magnificent, and the husband of one of his daughters. However, he died in 1561, before it could be completed in 1563. The mosque stands out with the Iznik tiles that come in a wide variety of floral and geometric patterns. The combination of red carpets and the turquoise tiles is breathtakingly beautiful. Rustem Pasha mosque is located in Eminonu area, close to other attractions such as the Egyptian Spice Bazaar. A bit tricky to find but it is worth the visit.
The Sakirin mosque is one of the famous modern mosques in Istanbul and the only one in history that was designed by a woman. It is a clear representation of modern Turkish architecture. The mosque took 4 years and a half to build and it was opened for worship in 2009. The Mosque’s architecture is very different compared to other mosques which makes it quite special. While the outside is very impressive, the inside unbelievable. Not many tourists can be found here but it is well worth seeing.
Mihrimah Sultan Mosque
The Mihrimah Sultan Mosque Complex was built in the 1560s (Mihrimah Sultan Camii) in Uskudar. It was commissioned by the Ottoman Sultan (Süleyman the Magnificent) for his only daughter Mihrimah Sultan. The Mihrimah Sultan mosque was built once again by the talented architect Mimar Sinan. The mosque complex includes a madrasa (religious high school), hamam, tomb, and a row of shops underneath the mosque. Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in Edirnekapı is one of the more unique structures built by Sinan. Its dome stands 37 meters in high and 20 meters in diameter and has hundreds of windows making it visibe the brightest Ottoman mosque at night.
The Sehzade Mosque (Turkish: Şehzade Cami) referred to as the ‘Prince’s Mosque’ is located in the Fatih district. The mosque was commissioned by the Magnificent Sulayman to commemorate his eldest son Şehzade Mehmed from his wife Roxelana. Sehzade Mehmed died at the age of 21 from an unknown cause. The Sehzade Mosque was the architect Sinan’s first major imperial mosque. It was completed in 1548 CE. The mosque is an architectural wonder. It consists of a madrasah, a refectory, a double guesthouse, a primary school, a caravansary and tombs.
Istanbul New Mosque
The New Mosque is not considered a tourist destination but that’s why it is worth the visit. Originally built for the mother of Memet III. It was originally designed as a near copy of the Şehzade Camii by Davut Ağa, but built on marshy ground, it was abandoned in 1603. After a fire inside in 1660, it was rebuilt by the mother of Mehmet IV, and designed by Mustafa Ağa, who closely followed Davut Ağa’s plans. The combination of the blue tiles and the red carpets gives it a magical interior and an incredible number of small domes surrounding the main dome.
Have you been to one of these mosques or have you been to a mosque that is not included in my list and you think it should be featured in this post? Tell me about your experience in the comments below