Istanbul is most unquestionably the champion attraction of Turkey and there are countless reasons why that is the case. For one, it sits upon two continents at once and that alone makes it unique in the world. Secondly, it has the Grand Bazaar, which in and of itself would be enough to satisfy visitors for hours on end. But besides all these wonderful characteristics, there are other things to keep an eye out for – and the elephant is out of the room: its mosques. There are countless mosques decorating the inner bounds of the city, but today we are going to look at five that should be visited by everyone. So, without further ado, let us dive right into the intricacies and the quirks of religious architecture (wink)!
5. Sultan Ahmed Mosque:
Known locally as Sultan Ahmet Camii (or “Sultan Ahmet Mosque”), the Sultan Ahmed Mosque of Istanbul is a wonder to behold even if you only gaze at it from a distance. Entering it, however, will change how you view Islamic architecture from then on as it is simply marvellous and intricate. Designed and erected by the famous Sedefkâr Mehmed Ağa, it can harbour a massive total of 10,000 worshippers at any given time. Built in the year 1616 and reaching a height of 64 metres with its minarets (of which it has six), the mosque has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
4. New Mosque:
Called Yeni Camii and originally named the Valide Sultan Mosque, the New Mosque decorates the inner bounds of the Eminönü district of Istanbul majestically. Constructed between 1597 and 1665 by the architects Davut Ağa, Dalgıç Ahmed Çavuş, and Mustafa Ağa, it possesses two grandiose minarets reaching 52 metres in height. Made entirely of cut stone, marble, and granite, it sits upon the Golden Horn, at the southern tip of the Galata Bridge. This position and its architectural magnificence make this mosque one of the most recognisable structures in Turkey to have been commissioned by the members of the Ottoman imperial family.
3. Eyüp Sultan Mosque:
Known to the locals as Eyüp Sultan Camii, the Eyüp Sultan Mosque is a religious structure that you do not want to miss. Originally erected in the year 1458 and rebuilt in 1800, it harbours the quirks and the characteristics of the Ottoman architectural style. Boasting two massive minarets and sitting in the Eyüp district of the city, the mosque also has an adjacent mausoleum where the remains of Eyüp (Job) al-Ansari (a friend and standard-bearer of Prophet Muhammad) are said to have been buried.
2. Süleymaniye Mosque:
Sitting on the on the Third Hill of Istanbul and ordered by the world-famous Sultan Süleyman (Süleyman the Magnificent), the Süleymaniye Mosque is quite probably one of the most famous mosques in the world. Designed and built by the master architect Mimar Sinan, the structure adheres to the Ottoman architectural style and has four minarets reaching 72 metres in height. Put up between the years 1550 and 1558, it is but the second-largest mosque in the city but that doesn’t make it any less grandiose.
1. Hagia Sophia:
Originally a Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal basilica, later a massive mosque, and now a museum, the Hagia Sophia is quite probably the most recognisable landmark of Istanbul. Made of ashlar and brick, the structure was completed in 537 AD and it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. Reaching a height of 55 metres and considered the largest Christian religious structure in the world until the completion of the Cathedral of Seville, it served as a source of inspiration for countless other mosques within the bounds of the city. Though it has a transition-riddled history, the Hagia Sophia is most unquestionably the champion of today’s top-list.
Did you enjoy our list? Which of the above-mentioned religious structures have you visited and what lasting aftertaste have they left you with? Tell us all about it below in the comment section and leave nothing out! Would you visit Istanbul again were you given the chance and if you would, would your trip include breaching the bounds of these mosques again? See you on our next adventure!