People from different ethnic identities have begun to live together, which has provided an environment for different religions to coexist. Among these religions are the four major religions known as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism. At the same time, Istanbul welcomes people belonging to religions such as Hinduism and Bahaism, and in this respect, we can say that Istanbul has a multicultural structure. For this reason, it is a known fact that many religions and cultures can be discovered in Istanbul.

Religious Minorities in Istanbul

Istanbul is the most densely populated city in Turkey, and therefore the most common religion in Istanbul is Islam. However, this does not change religious diversity in Istanbul, and people from many different faiths live together in the city. It is known that Christianity is the most intense religion among minority religions. Besides, there are many Jews in the city. Also, many different minorities, from Hinduism to Buddhism, share cultures. So much so that people of different religions have the right to live freely in Istanbul as their religion requires, and they also create cultural diversity. 

People who belong to the religion of Islam emphasize that Islam is a religion of tolerance, so it is necessary to show tolerance towards different religions. It is also said that the Ottoman Empire showed a tolerant attitude in the areas it conquered. For this reason, many people live together by preserving their cultural heritage even though they have different ethnic identities. Because of the religious research about this place, it is evident that a multicultural religious and cultural structuring is seen in Istanbul.

Cultural Diversity in Istanbul

One of the important facts about Istanbul is that it is a shared living space for people from many different nationalities. This not only makes Istanbul a multicultural city but also enables intercultural exchanges. It is known that nearly 200 thousand foreigners live together in Istanbul, where people from more than 60 nationalities live together. Therefore, as a result of cultural interaction over the years, people from many different religions and views share and can learn about the places of worship and characteristics of different religions. For example, a Christian or a Jewish person can discover in Istanbul the characteristics of Islam by participating in entertaining events held in Istanbul on holidays specific to Islam, such as Eid-al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha. 

People belonging to different religions are especially affected by the activities during the month of Ramadan and express their astonishment. At the same time, a Muslim can also attend the Halloween celebrations and discover new information about Christianity in Istanbul. In addition, Christian-specific events such as the Easter rite are among the activities found in Istanbul. This increases intercultural sharing and supports the multicultural structure of Istanbul.

Places of Worship in Istanbul

The Oruç Baba Tomb and the Tomb of Yusha are among the most famous examples. In addition, if someone researching Istanbul wants to see historical places belonging to different religions, it is recommended to visit the Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, St George's Cathedral, Aya Triada Church, Virgin Mary Armenian Church, or Aya Yorgi Church. Some of the places we mentioned are of great historical importance. For example, the Süleymaniye Mosque was built by the famous architect Mimar Sinan with the order of Kanuni Sultan Süleyman and was named Mimar Sinan's journeyman work. Also, the Sultanahmet Mosque, which is called the Blue Mosque by Europeans due to its appearance, is one of the most visited places in Istanbul and is one of the greatest works of art. Again, the Hagia Sophia mosque was built by Byzantines, and after the conquest of Istanbul by the Ottoman Empire, it was converted into a mosque by Mehmed the Conqueror.

Additionally, Hagia Sophia, which has existed as a museum for a long time, has recently opened its doors to the public as a mosque. In addition, the Fener Greek Patriarchate has a large library based on the Aya Triada Monastery. Finally, the Hagia Yorgi Church, located on the Big Island of Istanbul, is of great importance for Christians and is on the route of many tourists every year.

Frequently Asked Question

What is the prominent religion in Istanbul?
The prominent religion of Istanbul and Turkey is Islam.
Are there christians in Istanbul?
Yes, there is a huge cultural diversity in Istanbul. You can find people from all religions.
Where do people worship in Istanbul?
There are many mosques and churches in Istanbul. For example, the Hagia Sophia mosque was made open to worship in 2020.
Who built Hagia Sophia?
Hagia Sophia was built by the Byzantines and then was made a mosque by the Ottomans.
What are some of the churches in Istanbul
In Istanbul you can find churches such as Hagia Yorgi, Aya Triada, Hagia Irene and more.