As of today, Istanbul is home to a lovely blend of the East and the West influences. Much of the credit goes to its deep historical heritage. The most populous city in Turkey, Istanbul was formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople. The Roman Emperor, Constantine had fallen in love with the city and decided to turn it onto a co-capital. A co-capital of the Empire (with Rome) and hence formed the name ‘Constantinople’. Istanbul, as a city is also popular as Turkey’s economic, cultural and historical centre. A transcontinental city in Eurasia, it’s mounted on the Bosphorus Strait. That’s the one which separates Asia and Europe between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea.
One of the world’s most populous cities, Istanbul has a current recorded population of around 15 million residents. The city which had been founded under the name of Byzantium on the Sarayburnu promontory grew in size and influence. And, currently, it’s one of the most important cities in history. What makes the city one rapidly growing tourist attraction are the Istanbul Mosques and the Ottoman architecture.
To name a few, would be the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Suleymaniye Mosque, New Mosque and so on. Among this, Hagia Sofia is one Istanbul Mosque where the hybrid culture is evident. The reason? It was built as a church initially, but, then later had been converted into a mosque. Hence, this heritage Istanbul Mosque harbours the legacy of both religions.
Top 8 Mosques in Istanbul
In this article, we would go through the best Istanbul Mosques which you definitely can’t afford to miss on your visit. Let’s take a look.
- Blue Mosque Istanbul
- Sulemaniye Mosque Istanbul
- New Mosque Istanbul
- Rustem Pasa Mosque
- Camlica Republic Mosque
- Ortakoy Mosque
- Zeyrek Mosque
- Hagia Sophia
1. Blue Mosque Istanbul
This magnificent tourist attraction is the best Istanbul Mosque with it’s remarkable Ottoman architecture. Although, it’s popularly known as the Blue Mosque, the real name had always been Sultanahmet Mosque. It’s one historical Istanbul Mosque and a popular tourist site in the city. During the peak season, the long queues of tourists almost go out of the mosque premises. Constructed between 1609 and 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I, it still continues to function as a mosque today.
Even though the place has gained popularity as a tourist site, men still kneel in prayer over there. Blue Mosque Istanbul is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful structures built around that time. Famous for its incredible ceramics and hand-painted blue walls, the mosque is a masterpiece in itself. Sitting next to Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque Istanbul has five main domes, six minarets and eight secondary domes.
The edifice is at it’s most magnificent at night when the mosque is bathed in blue as the lights frame the mini structures located within.
The intensity of the light is as such that the surrounding areas get illuminated by the same. Blue Mosque Istanbul is best viewed from the Sultanahmet Park. There’s also a pool located at the centre of the park providing a great view of Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. Both on either side.
- Entry Fee: Free.
- Timings: 08:30 am – 11:30 am, 13:00 pm – 14: 30 pm, 15:30 pm – 16:45 pm
- Address: Sultan Ahmet Mahallesi, Atmeydanı Cd. No:7, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey.
Also See: Top 8 Centres for shopping in Istanbul
2. Süleymaniye Mosque Istanbul
Dominating the Golden Horn and crowning one of the seven hills, Süleymaniye is one terrific Istanbul Mosque. Terrific because of its grandeur and beauty. It might not be one of the largest Ottoman mosques, but, it undoubtedly stands magnificent in all its glory. Located on the Third Hill of Istanbul, Süleymaniye was commissioned by Suleiman, the Magnificent. Mimar Sinan, the imperial architect, was the acclaimed designer of the monument. In all it’s magnificence, this Istanbul Mosque is the second largest mosque in the city. It’s one of the best-known sights of Istanbul as well.
Built in 7 years, this mosque like all others included a hospital, a library, madrasa and kitchen, hammam and shops. It’s truly one of the best examples of Ottoman Islamic architecture in Istanbul. With respect to the other mosques, Süleymaniye is less ornate but, grand in its simplicity. An outer courtyard and an inner one with four minarets adorn the mosque structure. The staggering size and a hanging circular chandelier form the distinctive features of this Istanbul Mosque.
- Entry Fee: Free.
- Timings: Open 24 hours.
- Address: Süleymaniye Mah, Prof. Sıddık Sami Onar Cd. No:1, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey.
3. New Mosque Istanbul
Constructed in the name of Valide Sultan, New Mosque is not exactly new. Although the name suggests otherwise, this Istanbul Mosque is 350 years old. Does it sound new now? In Turkish, the translation would be Yeni Camii (New Mosque). Located at the southern end of the Galata Bridge, it is one of the famous architectural landmarks of Istanbul. This Istanbul Mosque also acts as a landmark for the Golden Horn and vice versa.
The construction of this New Mosque Istanbul was ordered by Sultana Safiye and began in 1597. Being the wife of Sultan Murad III and later Queen Mother of Sultan Mehmed III gave her the power. Davut Ağa, the original architect, was an apprentice to the great Mimar Sinan. But, unfortunately, due to his untimely death, the project had to be taken over by Dalgıç Ahmed Çavuş. New Mosque Istanbul took almost half than a century to be built and lastly was completed by another Valide Sultan. Sultana Turhan Hatice.
As you walk in, you would get to see the 66 domes and semi domes in a pyramidal arrangement. That’s the exterior of the mosque. There are two minarets as well. As for the interiors, it’s square shaped and measures 41 meters on each side. There is a central area which is defined by four large piers acting as the main support for the dome. Similar to the others, New Mosque Istanbul was designed as a complex with adjacent structures to cater to both religious and cultural needs. Today, the large L-shaped market within the mosque survives as the Spice Bazaar.
- Entry Fee: Donation based.
- Timings: 09.00 am – 18:00 pm.
- Address: Rüstem Paşa Mahallesi, Yeni Cami Cd. No:3, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey.
4. Rüstem Paşa Mosque
Built by the famous architect Mimar Sinan, this Istanbul Mosque is a secret gem of Ottoman architecture. Located in the Strawmat Weavers Market or the Hasırcılar Çarşısı, the construction was done around in 1563. The renowned architect had designed this Ottoman architecture for the grand vizier Rüstem Pasha. He was the husband of one of the daughters of Suleiman the Magnificent. Post Rüstem Pasha’s death at the age of 61, the mosque had been built around 1561 to 1563.
Currently, the mosque premises hosts a religious school. Built on a high terrace over a complex of protected shops, their rents were intended to support the mosque complex. At least initially. There are a narrow and lopsided interior flight of steps which would take you to the spacious courtyard.
A double porch with five domed bays adorns the exteriors of the mosque. When you go in, you would be mesmerised seeing the thoughtful use of İznik tiles. Set in a wide variety of floral and geometric designs, it covers not only the façade. But, also the mihrab, minbar and walls. Eighty different patterns are known to be there in the mosque. These tiles display the ancient use of Armenian bole. It’s a tomato-red pigment that would be a signature of İznik pottery.
- Entry Fee: Donation based.
- Timings: 10.00 am – 18:00 pm.
- Address: Rüstem Paşa Mahallesi, Hasırcılar Cd. No:62, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey.
5. Çamlıca Republic Mosque
One of the largest Istanbul Mosque in Turkey, Çamlıca was inaugurated on 1 July 2016. The mosque has the ability to accommodate a huge mass of people. 63000 to be precise. It’s one the megaprojects built by the Turkish government to display the strength of the economy. And, also for providing the legacy for the governing AK Party. The mosque premises includes a museum, an art gallery, library and conference hall. Bahar Mızrak and Hayriye Gül Totu are the two female architects behind the designing of this new Istanbul Mosque.
It was just a month back when this mosque officially opened it’s doors to the public with a dawn prayer. The mosque also features special accommodation for the disabled, i.e., a platform. And, that platform would be the place from where visitors would be able to offer prayers. This newly built Istanbul mosque can be viewed from all parts and corners of the city. Magnificent and grand on its own.
- Entry Fee: Free.
- Timings: Just opened.
- Address: Ferah Mahallesi, Ferah Yolu Sk. No:87, 34692 Üsküdar/İstanbul, Turkey.
6. Ortaköy Mosque
Officially known as the Büyük Mecidiye Camii, this Istanbul mosque is situated at the waterside of the Ortaköy pier square. It’s one of the most popular locations of Bosphorous. At the same place and on the same site, a masjid commissioned by the son-in-law of Vizier Ibrahim Pasha used to stand. During the Patrona Halil uprising, it was ruined. Ordered by the Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid, the current mosque was built between 1854 and 1856.
Armenian father and son Garabet Amira Balyan and Nigoğayos Balyan were the architects. And, they designed the mosque in a complete Neo-Baroque style. The mosque is known to offer a great view of the Bosphorus for the people who are visiting it. There are also guided boat tours which take you around for an amazing scenic view.
Ortaköy Mosque consists of a two-tier “sultan apartment” with a “U” shaped plan. There’s also a main venue with a square plan covered with one dome. With a bridge in the background resembling much the famous San Francisco one, it’s a beautiful sight for sure.
- Entry Fee: Free.
- Timings: 09:00 am – 04:45 pm
- Address: Mecidiye Mahallesi, Mecidiye Köprüsü Sk. 1/1, 34347 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey.
7. Zeyrek Mosque
One of the most significant Istanbul mosque, Zeyrek is made of two former Eastern Orthodox churches and a chapel. Initially, the mosque had been functioning as a Byzantine monastery with the name of Pantokrator. Dedicated to Christ and almost similar to most of the Byzantine churches, it got converted into a mosque in 1453. Mainly after the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans. After Hagia Sophia, this was the largest church known. After the monastery had been constructed, it functioned as the imperial cemetery of the Byzantine Empire.
Currently, the complex is placed in Fazilet Sokağı, that is in the district of Faith. The south and the north church of this monument are both cross domed with polygonal apses having seven sides. And, the southern church is the largest. To the East of the monument, there is an esonarthex , which had later been extended up to the imperial chapel. The church is conquered by two domes, and the mosaics of the interior represent the apostles and life of the Christ.
Zeyrek Mosque is located mainly in the Unkapani region of Istanbul. And, there are a number of buses which would take you in that direction. Catch a bus from Eminou or Fatih, and simply get off at Unkapani Bus Station. From there, head towards the fabric market. Walk straight down the hill. And, you would see the mosque in front of you.
- Entry Fee: Free.
- Timings: 09:00 am – 21:30 pm
- Address: Zeyrek Mh., 34083 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey.
8. Hagia Sophia
Also known as the Church of Holy Wisdom, Hagia Sophia had been a cathedral built at Constantinople in the 6th Century. By consensus, it is the most critical Istanbul Mosque, a Byzantine structure. And undoubtedly, one of the world’s most significant monuments. In a remarkably short period, of about six years, the structure of Hagia Sophia had been constructed. Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus, the architects, are quite well-known as is their familiarity with mechanic and mathematics.
Famous, particularly for its massive dome, the construction of this mosque, had changed the history of architecture. Composed of brick and mortar joints, it served as an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral and the seat of Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. It was later that the building was converted into an Ottoman Mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1932.
Later then, it was secularised and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935. Hagia Sophia is one of the best surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. Decorated with mosaics and marble pillars, the interiors are of great artistic value.
- Entry Fee: 60 TL
- Hours of Ticket sale: 18:00 pm
- Timings: 09:00 am – 19:00 pm
- Address: Sultan Ahmet Mahallesi, Ayasofya Meydanı, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey.