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Suleymaniye Mosque

From The Marmara Suadiye
30 Min

Suleymaniye Mosque, which was ordered by Suleyman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Empire's longest-reigning monarch, is among the most recognizable landmarks of Istanbul. It held the title of the city's largest mosque for more than four and a half centuries, and even now, it stands out as a magnificent and awe-inspiring symbol of the captivating Ottoman era. 

Suleymaniye Mosque, built by the Ottoman Empire's longest-reigning monarch, Suleyman the Magnificent, is a magnificent landmark in Istanbul. The mosque, completed in 1557, is a spacious and grand structure with Byzantine-style domes, similar to those of the Hagia Sophia, and four minarets. It was designed by the renowned imperial architect Mimar Sinan, who contributed to over 300 structures throughout the empire. Perched atop the highest hill in the city overlooking the Golden Horn, the mosque serves as the final resting place of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, his wife Hurrem Sultan, and several other family members. 

Suleymaniye Mosque is a stunning testament to the opulent era of Ottoman dominance, showcasing the power and grandeur of its remarkable ruler, and is definitely worth a visit. 


History of Suleymaniye Mosque 

Despite its stunning beauty, the origins of Suleymaniye Mosque are tinged with tragedy. The mosque was commissioned by Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent after his favorite imperial architect, Mimar Sinan, designed a mosque in memory of Suleyman's deceased son, Crown Prince Mehmed. The design so impressed Suleyman that he requested Sinan to build a similar mosque in his honor. 

The mosque was not only a physical structure but also a powerful religious symbol of Suleyman's authority, casting him as a modern-day Solomon, the legendary successor to King David in the Bible. Suleymaniye Mosque's architectural design was partly influenced by the Dome of the Rock, an Islamic holy site in Israel built on the site of the Temple of Solomon. 

Suleymaniye Mosque suffered significant damage during the Great Fire of 1660, which destroyed two-thirds of Istanbul, and then later, its dome collapsed in an earthquake. The mosque was subsequently restored after both incidents, and then again in 1956 and 2010. 

Inside the Mosque 

Suleymaniye Mosque has undergone several renovations that have restored it to its original 16th-century magnificence, with elaborate tilework and a spacious, illuminated interior adorned with floral patterns and stained-glass windows. The mosque's main dome, towering at 53 meters, provides an impressive sense of interior height. The interior design is lavish and ornate, featuring exquisite materials such as mother-of-pearl, ivory, marble, and intricate carvings. 

The mosque’s complex includes two mausoleums, one for Suleyman and the other for his wife, Hurrem, who was once a concubine but became the most powerful woman in the Ottoman Empire. Hurrem, also known as Roxelana in European courts, was captured by Tatar slavers and sold to Istanbul. She bore Suleyman six children, which was a significant departure from Ottoman tradition. According to tradition, Ottoman sultans were to end sexual relations with a concubine after she gave birth to a male child, so that she could raise her son to fight for the throne. However, Suleyman continued his relationship with Hurrem and eventually married her. Their second son, Selim, succeeded Suleyman as the ruler of the Ottoman Empire. 

The Suleymaniye Mosque complex not only commemorates the great love story of Suleyman and Hurrem, but also served as a hub for various public services such as a hospital, schools, hamam, and public kitchens. The mosque, along with these structures, is situated in a vast courtyard surrounded by enchanting gardens, which still retain their charm to this day. 

How to Visit 

The Suleymaniye Mosque is still an active place of worship and is open for visitors from 9:00am to 6:00pm, except during prayer times. You can check the daily prayer schedule to plan your visit accordingly. 

To visit Suleymaniye Mosque, it is not necessary to be Muslim, but it is important to observe the dress code. Women must cover their legs, arms, and hair, while men must cover their legs. No tickets are required for entry. 

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