Of the many mosques in Istanbul the Suleymaniye Mosque
is probably the most eye catching one. This is not simply due to the sheer size of the mosque, but because of it's magnificent location, historic importance and grandiose design. As one of the most imposing structures in the city, the Suleymaniye Mosque is as hard to miss as it is not to be missed.
History of the Suleymaniye Mosque
The Suleymaniye Mosque is located
atop one of the seven hills that Istanbul was built on. As such not only is it a very important landmark of the city, its also one of the landmarks that offer its visitors the best views possible. To speak of when the Suleymaniye Mosque was built;
it was built between 1550-1557 by the most famous imperial architect of the Ottoman Empire, Mimar Sinan, on the orders of Suleyman I, otherwise known as Suleyman the Magnificent. But the Suleymaniye Mosque wasn't just built as a place of worship. The Suleymaniye Mosque is a massive complex that once housed a soup kitchen, a library, a madrasa, a preparatory school, a garden where one could take leisurely strolls and more. While the mosque is still used for worship, many parts have been closed and are used for touristic purposes. For instance, what was once a soup kitchen is now a sweet little cafe called the Daruzziyaye, where you can enjoy a cup of tea
The Suleymaniye Mosque bears great historic value for many reasons. First, because it was built by the most talented Ottoman architect to have ever lived. Second reason is that there are certain very important figures' graveyards. Who is buried in the Suleymaniye Mosque
, you ask? Well, the tombs of Suleyman the Magnificent and his wife Hurrem Sultan (formerly known as Roxelana) are located on the grounds of the mosque. The mosque was built to be a testament of Suleyman I's accomplishments during the right. For instance, the four minarets of the mosque serve to signify the fact that Suleyman I was the fourth sultan to rule over the Ottoman Empire, once he became an empire.
Suleymaniye Mosque in Recent History
The Suleymaniye Mosque has had to go through heavy restoration in the past. The first Suleymaniye Mosque restoration
took place in the 17th Century when the mosque was ravaged by a fire in 1660. Once the fire was put out, architect Fossati was commissioned to undertake the restoration. Unfortunately, Fossatti changed the interior style of the mosque quite a bit, adopting a more baroque style instead. What the mosque truly looked like before then, we'll unfortunately never know. The Suleymaniye Mosque's courtyard was used as a weapon depot during Word War I. Naturally, another fire broke out during this time and greatly damaged the mosque. The mosque was unfortunately restored second time until 1956.
Important Tips and Selected Tours
The Suleymaniye Mosque is open to visitors every day of the week. The Suleymaniye Mosque visiting hours
are from 9 am to 6 pm, except for during prayer times. The Suleymaniye Mosque tickets
are free as well, but donations are encouraged. Given the mosque's strategic location, the Suleymaniye doesn't just have an incredible view. It's also great to other must-visit locations such as the Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar. Considering how imposing both the Suleymaniye Mosque and Blue Mosque are, there is an ongoing battle between the two. Which is more captivating? That you will have to find out for yourself. Once you visit the Suleymaniye Mosque, you can quickly head over to the Blue Mosque as well. You can easily book a tour to visit the Suleymaniye Mosque, followed by the Blue Mosque on istanbul.com. You can also acquire an Istanbul Tourist Pass
from the website, so you can quickly visit the two and decide on your favorite. Alternatively, you can head to either the Grand Bazaar or the Spice Bazaar too, since the two are within walking distance. Be warned though, you have a steep walk up the hill if you choose to head to the Suleymaniye Mosque after visiting the Spice Market. Considering this, you might want to start out your day at the Grand Bazaar, take a walk from the Grand Bazaar to the Suleymaniye Mosque
and then walk downhill from the Suleymaniye Mosque to the Spice Market