The Marmara Bodrum


The Marmara Antalya


The Marmara Taksim

Istanbul / Taksim

The Marmara Pera

Istanbul / Pera

The Marmara Şişli

Istanbul / Sisli

The Marmara Suadiye

Istanbul / Suadiye

The Marmara Esma Sultan

Istanbul / Esma Sultan

The Marmara Park Avenue

NY / Park Avenue

Suleymaniye Mosque

From The Marmara Taksim
15 Min
45 min
Exterior view of the Suleymaniye mosque with its 4 minaret

Commissioned by Suleyman the Magnificent, the longest-reigning monarch of the Ottoman Empire, Suleymaniye Mosque is one of Istanbul’s most well-known landmarks. For over four and a half centuries, it was the largest mosque in the city; still, it remains one of the most grand, and a breathtaking symbol of an extraordinarily fascinating era in the history of the Ottomans. 

Completed in 1557 as a massive, airy complex with Byzantine-esque domes (similar to that of the Hagia Sophia) and four minarets, Suleymaniye Mosque is a marvel of Ottoman architecture. It was designed by favored imperial architect Mimar Sinan, who also contributed to more than 300 structures across the empire. Located on the highest hill in the city, above the Golden Horn, the mosque Sinan designed is the final burial place of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent and his wife, Hurrem Sultan, as well as several other family members.  

A beautiful monument of the wealthiest and most powerful century of Ottoman influence, and to its most awe-inspiring monarch, Suleymaniye Mosque is well worth the visit.  

Exterior view of the suleymaniye mosque at midnight with its lights on and moon on the background of the mosque

History of Suleymaniye Mosque 

The grandeur of Suleymaniye Mosque belies its tragic origins. It was commissioned after Sinan designed a mosque in honor of Suleyman’s deceased son, the Crown Prince Mehmed; Suleyman was so impressed by the tribute to Mehmed that he commissioned his own mosque from the architect.  

The mosque became a literal and religious symbol of Suleyman’s supremacy, positioning the sultan as the second coming of Solomon, the biblical successor of David. Its design is partially inspired by that of the Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine in Israel that was built on the site of the Temple of Solomon.  

In the Great Fire of 1660, which destroyed two-thirds of Istanbul, Suleymaniye Mosque was heavily damaged; its dome collapsed a century later in an earthquake. It was restored after both instances, and then again in 1956 and 2010. 

Inside the Mosque 

The renovations have returned Suleymaniye Mosque to its 16th-century glory, replete with intricate tiles and a vast, light interior, floral detailing and stained-glass windows. The main dome is 53 meters tall, allowing for a stunning amount of interior height. Its decor is fine and luxurious, marked by mother-of-pearl, ivory, marble, and elegant carvings.  

Included in the mosque’s complex are two mausoleums for Suleyman and his wife, a former concubine who became the most powerful woman in the empire. Named Hurrem (Roxelana, as she came to be known by European courts) after she was captured by Tatar slavers and sold to Istanbul, she bore Suleyman six children, a major break from Ottoman tradition. Ottoman sultans were meant to cease sexual relations with a concubine after she gave him a male child — so that she could focus on raising her son to fight for the throne — but Suleyman returned to Hurrem, eventually marrying her. Their second son, Selim, succeeded Suleyman as ruler of the Ottoman Empire.  

Suleymaniye Mosque, then, is also a testament to the love between Suleyman and Hurrem. Additionally, the complex housed a hospital, schools, hamam (public baths), public kitchens, and more. It was a sacred, powerful space, but also a public service. Many of these structures still stand today, in addition to the mosque itself; they are all located within a spacious courtyard and beautiful gardens. 

How to Visit 

Suleymaniye Mosque is currently a working mosque. It is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm for visitors but closed while prayer is in session. You can find daily prayer times here 

You do not need to be Muslim to visit, but make sure to follow the dress codes. For women, this means covering your legs, arms, and hair; for men, covered legs. Tickets are not needed. 

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