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Suleymaniye Mosque

From The Marmara Pera
10 Min
30 min
Address Süleymaniye, Prof. Sıddık Sami Onar Cd. No:1, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul
Phone (0212) 458 00 00

9 AM to 5 PM

Exterior of the Suleymaniye mosque with its 4 minarets

Suleymaniye Mosque, a renowned landmark in Istanbul, was commissioned by Suleyman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Empire's longest-reigning monarch. For more than four and a half centuries, it held the distinction of being the biggest mosque in the city, and to this day, it continues to be an awe-inspiring representation of a captivating epoch in Ottoman history. 

Suleymaniye Mosque, completed in 1557, is a magnificent complex with airy Byzantine-like domes and four minarets that make it a stunning example of Ottoman architecture. It was designed by Mimar Sinan, the favored imperial architect, who contributed to over 300 structures across the empire. The mosque is situated on the highest hill in Istanbul, overlooking the Golden Horn, and it serves as the final resting place for Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, his wife Hurrem Sultan, and other members of their family. 

Suleymaniye Mosque is a stunning testament to the opulence and strength of the Ottoman Empire's most prosperous period, as well as its most impressive ruler, and a visit to the mosque is highly recommended. 


History of Suleymaniye Mosque 

The magnificent Suleymaniye Mosque has a tragic origin story that is often overlooked due to its grandeur. The mosque was commissioned by Suleyman the Magnificent after he was impressed by a mosque that was designed by Mimar Sinan in honor of Suleyman's deceased son, Crown Prince Mehmed. 

Suleymaniye Mosque was not only a physical symbol of power but also a religious one, as it positioned Sultan Suleyman as a successor to Solomon, the biblical king and prophet. Its design was inspired by the Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine located in Israel, which was built on the site of the Temple of Solomon. 

Suleymaniye Mosque suffered significant damage during the Great Fire of 1660, which ravaged two-thirds of Istanbul, and its dome collapsed in an earthquake a century later. However, it was reconstructed after each event, and underwent further restoration in 1956 and 2010. 

Inside the Mosque 

The extensive restoration efforts have brought back the Suleymaniye Mosque to its former glory of the 16th century, showcasing its elaborate tiles and spacious, luminous interior, adorned with floral patterns and stained-glass windows. With a height of 53 meters, the main dome is strikingly tall and creates an impressive sense of spaciousness inside the mosque. Its lavish decoration features intricate designs of mother-of-pearl, ivory, and marble, accompanied by delicate carvings. 

The mosque complex encompasses two mausoleums dedicated to Suleyman and his wife, Hurrem, a former concubine who rose to become the most influential woman in the empire. Known as Roxelana in European courts, Hurrem was captured by Tatar slavers and sold in Istanbul. She defied Ottoman tradition by bearing Suleyman six children, instead of just one male heir. According to Ottoman customs, a sultan was expected to cease sexual relations with a concubine after she produced a male child, so that she could focus on raising her son to compete for the throne. However, Suleyman continued his relationship with Hurrem and eventually married her. Their second son, Selim, succeeded Suleyman as ruler of the Ottoman Empire. 

Suleymaniye Mosque not only stands as a tribute to the love shared between Suleyman and Hurrem but also served as a symbol of Ottoman power and generosity. The complex encompassed a hospital, public kitchens, schools, and public baths among other structures. These facilities were an essential part of the Ottoman social welfare system, serving the needs of the community. Most of these structures still stand today, situated in a vast courtyard adorned with beautiful gardens alongside the mosque. 

How to Visit 

Suleymaniye Mosque remains an active mosque to this day. While it is open for visitors from 9:00am to 5:00pm, it is closed during prayer times. You can check the daily prayer schedule here. 

Visitors to Suleymaniye Mosque are not required to be Muslim, but it is important to follow the dress codes. Women should cover their legs, arms, and hair, while men should have covered legs. There is no need to purchase tickets to enter the mosque. 

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