MOSQUES (ISTANBUL)


Facing St.Sophia stands the supremely elegant, six-minaret, imperial Sultan Ahmet Mosque. Built between 1609 and 1616 by the architect Mehmet, the building is more familiarly known as the Blue Mosque because its interior gleams with a magnificent paneling of blue and white Iznik tiles. During the tourist season an evening light and sound show both entertains and informs.

The cascading domes and four slender minarets of Suleymaniye Mosque dominate the skyline on the Golden Horn's west bank. Considered the most beautiful of all imperial mosques in Istanbul, it was built between 1550 and 1557 by Sinan, the renowned architect of the Ottoman golden age. On the crest of a hill, the building is conspicuous for its great size, which the four minarets that rise from each corner of the courtyard emphasize. Inside, the mihrab (prayer niche) and the mimber (pulpit) are of finely carved white marble; fine stained glass windows color the incoming streams of light. It was in the gardens of this complex that Suleyman and his wife Hurrem Sultan had their mausoleum built, and near here also that Sinan built his own tomb.

The mosque complex also includes four medrese, or theological schools, a school of medicine, a caravansary, a Turkish bath, and a kitchen and hospice for the poor.

Another skillful accomplishment of the architect Sinan, the Rustem Pasa Mosque was built in 1561 on the orders of Rustem Pasa, Grand Vizier and son-in-law of Suleyman the Magnificent. Exquisite Iznik tiles panel the small and superbly proportioned interior.

The imperial Fatih Mosque, constructed between 1463 and 1470, bears the name of the Ottoman conqueror of Istanbul, Fatih Sultan Mehmet, and is the site of his mausoleum. Standing atop another of Istanbul's hills, its vast size and great complex of religious buildings -- medreses, hospices, baths, a hospital, , a caravansary and a library -- make it well worth a visit.

The great Mosque of Eyup lies outside the city walls, near the Golden Horn, at the supposed place where Eyup, the standard bearer of the Prophet Mohammed, died in the Islamic assault on Constantinople in 670. The first mosque built after the Ottoman conquest of the city, this greatly venerated shrine attracts many pilgrims.

Built between 1597 and 1663, the Yeni (New) Mosque hovers over the harbor at Eminonu greeting the incoming ferryboats and welcoming tourists to the old city. Today its graceful domes and arches shelter hundreds of pigeons who make this area their home. Marvelous Iznik tiles decorate the sultan's balcony.

The 16 Th. century Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Mosque built in an awkwardly shaped plot on a steeply sloping hill near Sultanahmet is one of the most beautiful examples of classical Turkish architecture and a masterpiece of the architect Sinan. Inside, breathtaking blues, greens, purples and reds color the elegant designs of the Iznik tiles.

Walls of glass fill the four immense arches that support the central dome at the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque inside the Edirne gate of the old city walls. One hundred and sixty-one windows illuminate this mosque, built by Sinan for Mihrimah Sultana, the daughter of Suleyman the Magnificent, in 1555.



button