12 Most Famous Mosques in Istanbul
As you probably know, Istanbul was the capital of the Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years. Thus, it has a rich cultural heritage mostly from Ottoman times. Naturally, it is easy to see the effects of this heritage on the mosques. There are more than 3000 mosques in the city.
In this article, you will see the most significant ones in terms of architecture and historical value. We advise you not to finish your Istanbul trip without visiting them. As you know Istanbul has an extensive public transportation system. Therefore you can visit all of those mosques easily.
This mosque is a gorgeous example of classical Ottoman architecture. Moreover, there are also elements of the Byzantine Empire which resembles the Hagia Sophia and other churches of the Byzantine Empire on the Blue Mosque.
One of the most important features of Blue Mosque is that when the mosque built in the 17th century, the great mosque of Mecca had also six minarets(minaret is the tower of a mosque) and this led to contradictions among the Islam world. Therefore, Sultan Ahmet ordered the construction of the seventh minaret in the great mosque of Mecca.
The best place to see the great appearance of the Blue Mosque is the Hippodrome, which is also an important historical site of Istanbul from the time of the Byzantine Empire. As you can see, every place in Istanbul offers you a historical atmosphere, and the Blue Mosque is one of the most important parts of this historical atmosphere in the city.
Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya in Turkish language) is also one of the most popular tourist attractions in Istanbul. Different from many mosques in this list, it was built as a church in the time of Byzantine Empire.
This magnificent structure is accepted as the 8th wonder of the world by many authorities. Hagia Sophia was built in 325 according to historical resources. Then, it was rebuilt in 537. After that, it was converted into a mosque after the conquest of Istanbul by the Ottoman Empire in 1453. It was used as a mosque until 1934 and then it was converted to a museum. Because of this great historical value, you can easily see the touches of different cultures in this wonderful mosque.
You need to keep in mind that, with a decree which was introduced on July 22, 2020 Hagia Sophia was converted to mosque again from the museum status. Although it is still open to tourists, you need to follow the dress code for mosques to visit Hagia Sophia.
Although it is not popular among tourists as much as Hagia Sophia or Blue Mosque, Suleymaniye Mosque is also a wonderful mosque you should visit. The doom of the mosque which is 173 feet long (53 meters) creates a reason to visit it on its own. However, it is not the only reason. A spectacular courtyard, green gardens, bright columns will also amaze you when you see the mosque for the first time.
Suleymaniye Mosque was built in the time of Suleyman the Magnificent, perhaps the most glorious sultan of the Ottoman Empire for his honor. The architect of the mosque also was the most famous architect of the entire history of the Ottoman Empire, Mimar Sinan. The building process took seven years and it was completed in 1557. When you visit the mosque you can easily understand that the interior decoration of the Suleymaniye Mosque is beyond its time. Colored tiles, stained glass windows, and old but still strong columns make you feel the atmosphere of the time of the Ottoman Empire.
Ortaköy Mosque is also one of the most beautiful mosques of the city. In terms of architectural design, Ortaköy Mosque is not a very unique one like Süleymaniye, Blue Mosque or Hagia Sophia. However, what makes this mosque wonderful is its location. Ortaköy is one of the most beautiful places of Istanbul on the Bosphorus side. The mosque was built in Neo-Baroque style in between 1854-1856.
The New Mosque is also located in one of the most beautiful places of Istanbul, Eminönü. It is also very popular among travelers. The most significant features of this mosque are its huge courtyard and blue & white Iznik tiles.
Little Hagia Sophia Mosque
Little Hagia Sophia is one of the oldest Byzantine structures in modern Istanbul. As you can understand from its name, it resembles Hagia Sophia in terms of architecture, but it is like a smaller version of it. You can reach the Little Hagia Sophia Mosque by walking about 10 minutes from the Blue Mosque. Little Hagia Sophia was built as a church in the 530s according to historical resources, in the time of the famous Byzantine Emperor Justinian. Like Hagia Sophia, it was converted into a mosque after the conquest. The most significant characteristic of the mosque is its stone and brick walls.
Sehzade Mosque is located in the Fatih district of Istanbul. Fatih is one of the districts of the Historical Peninsula of Istanbul. If you want to explore the old Istanbul, you should visit Fatih and Sehzade Mosque. The construction of the mosque was completed in 1548. Sehzade Mosque is also known as Sehzade Mehmed Mosque. Its name comes from Sehzade Mehmed, son of Suleyman the Magnificent, who died at a young age. It is also a huge mosque and you can also visit the tomb of Sehzade Mehmed in the beautiful garden.
Nuruosmaniye Mosque was built in 1755. Although the construction of the mosque was ordered by Sultan Mahmud I, the construction was completed after the death of him. The name of the mosque tells us an interesting story. The mosque was completed in the era of Osman III and the name ‘’Nurosmaniye’’ means ‘’the light of Osman’’ in Turkish. The reason for that is the numerous windows of the mosque. More than a hundred windows bring sunlight into the mosque. This mosque was built as a mosque complex rather than a standard mosque. There was a madrasa (high school mainly focused on religious education), a kitchen, a huge library that was home to lots of books, and a public fountain in the complex. The most important feature of the mosque is its huge dome. It is one of the biggest domes you can see in the mosques of Istanbul.
Fatih Mosque is also a historic mosque in Istanbul. Fatih Mosque was built in 1463 by the order of Sultan Mehmet, the conqueror of Istanbul. It was also a mosque complex like the Nuruosmaniye Mosque. There was also a madrasa, hospital, baths, and library in the complex. It also has a big courtyard. You should visit Fatih Mosque if you do not want to skip any historical monuments in the city.
Eyup Sultan Mosque
Eyüp Sultan Mosque is also a very famous place in Istanbul. Moreover, it could be the holiest mosque in Turkey, not only in Istanbul. After the conquest, Sultan Mehmet II wanted to build a mosque on the tomb of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, who was a bearer of Prophet Muhammed. Abu Ayyub al-Ansari was killed in the Arabian siege of Constantinople.
After the conquest of the city, Sultan Mehmed II wanted to honor him with this mosque. After a long search in the city, the tomb of Ayyub al Ansari was discovered and the mosque was built in the area of his tomb. You can also see a cemetery and some tourist facilities around the mosque. The Mosque is located in the area known as the Golden Horn. Therefore, you can also enjoy a great landscape.
Rustem Pasha Mosque
The construction of Rustem Pasha Mosque was completed in 1561. The architecture of this mosque was also Mimar Sinan. The mosque is located in the Eminönü district like the New Mosque. The mosque was the first big work of the great architect Sinan. The Mosque is famous for its blue Iznik tiles like the blue mosque. It is a wonderful example of classical Ottoman architecture. If you want to see mosques which have a great architectural design, you should visit Rustem Pasha Mosque. It is smaller than most of the mosques in this list, however, it is a well-proportioned one.
Mihrimah Sultan Mosque
First, you should know that there are two Mihrimah Sultan Mosques in Istanbul. The story behind this is also worth reading. The great architect of the Ottoman Empire, Sinan loved Mihrimah, the daughter of Süleyman the magnificent throughout his life. However, she was married to Rustem Pasha, and Sinan never admitted his love to her. Therefore, it is believed that he built these two mosques named Mihrimah for her. Mihrimah means the sun and the moon, it is also believed that the sunrise occurs between the minarets of the mosque which is located on the European side of the city, and the moon rises behind the minaret of the mosque located on the Asian side of the city. We advise you to visit both of them.