Today our list of the 10 Most Famous Mosques in Istanbul will come to mind when you decide to take a historical and cultural tour of Istanbul. You can explore those mosques, discover the antiquity of Ottoman architecture, and enjoy the spiritual state that these holy places confer; these things characterise Istanbul, which was the capital of the Ottoman Empire for 500 years.
Where there are more than 3000 mosques in Istanbul, and those mosques reflect Ottoman history and culture in their different periods; so, if you are still confused about which one to visit first, come with me on this historical and cultural tour in the following lines among the ten most famous mosques in Istanbul.
1. Ayasofya Mosque
Ayasofya is one of Istanbul’s most famous tourist spots, one of the 10 most famous mosques in Istanbul, and its exciting history. In the beginning, the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I built it as a cathedral between 532-537.
After the Ottoman conquest, Sultan Mehmet Fatih turned Ayasofya into a mosque. That transformation was not the only one in the life of Ayasofya; the building, built 1,500 years ago and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the era of the Republic, was turned into a museum in 1934. It comes back again to be a mosque in 2020.
Ayasofya covers a vast area with a dome system that is bigger and more complex than any basilica of its time. Such a large dome, seated on only four pillars, is a technical and aesthetic revolution in architectural history. The view of the mosaic will amaze you when you see them and the unique examples of calligraphy inside it. It will be an unforgettable experience.
2. Sultanahmet Mosque (The Blue Mosque)
Sultan Ahmed I, was ordered to begin the construction of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, or the Blue Mosque, as it is known, in 1609. The mosque’s construction was completed after seven years of work; when the Ayasofya was turned into a museum in 1934, the Blue Mosque was considered the main mosque in Turkey.
The Blue Mosque is known by that name- the other one of the 10 most famous mosques in Istanbul-because it is covered with more than 20,000 blue and white Iznik tiles decorated with flowers.
The mosque has six minarets and is located in the Sultanahmet area, the area for which it was named. The Blue Mosque is a unique crucial archaeological building from the seventeenth century. It is located in the Sultanahmet district in the Fatih district of Istanbul. You can take any tram on the Bağcılar – Kabataş line to get to the mosque.
3. Fatih Mosque
Fatih Sultan Mehmet built the mosque and complex in the Fatih district. Its building works began in 1462 and ended in 1469. It contains 16 schools, a hospital, a guest house, an almshouse, a library, and a bathroom. It is the first mosque of the sultans built after the conquest of Istanbul.
The mosque designed by the engineer Atek Sinan, unfortunately, could not reach the present day by preserving its original shape after being exposed to two major earthquakes. Fatih Mosque also draws attention to the fact that it is the mosque that raised the call to prayer for the first time in the Turkish language in 1932.
The Fatih Mosque is named after Ottoman sultan Mehmet the Conqueror, known in Turkish as Fatih Sultan Mehmet. Istanbul, Turkey.
Fatih Mosque – one of the 10 most famous mosques in Istanbul- attracts much attention not only because of its architecture or social complex but also because of the graves located right next to it. The graves of names such as Fatih Sultan Mehmet, Gazi Osman Pasha, and Gülbahar Valide Sultan, who have an important place in Ottoman history, are located here.
To go to the mosque and complex, you can use the buses that depart in the direction of Eminönü and pass through Yavuz Selim Station.
4. Süleymaniye Mosque
Süleymaniye mosque is located in the Fatih district of Istanbul. It was completed between 1550 and 1557 by the famous Ottoman architecture Mimar Sinan- whose genius still impresses today- for Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent.
It is considered the second-largest mosque in Istanbul and a well-known mosque throughout Turkey. Moreover, it’s in the list of the 10 most famous mosques in Istanbul, not for nothing.
It combines the most critical features of Ottoman architecture; tall, slender minarets with large domed buildings supported by half-domes in the style of the Byzantine Ayasofya (which the Ottomans converted into the Ayasofia mosque). Thanks to the 65 cubes around the mosque’s dome, an excellent sound was created inside, and there was no need to use any technological tools for prayer.
If we look at it, we can say that it is part of the Süleymaniye complex, along with the mosque, schools, cemetery, hospital, primary school, bathroom, library, almshouse, and shops. Sultan Süleyman, his wife Hürrem, and Mimar Sinan’s graves were found within the Süleymaniye complex. The mosque is considered one of the largest mosques in Istanbul – with four minarets- but not the largest in general.
The mosque located in the Süleymaniye area in the Fatih area can be reached by bus or tram.
5. Ortaköy Mosque (Büyük Mecidiye Mosque)
Ortaköy Mosque, or Mecdiye Mosque, the next mosque in our list of the 10 most famous mosques in Istanbul, was built by Sultan Abdülmecid (Abdulmajid) in 1850 by the Armenian Baylan family. Ortaköy Mosque has the most beautiful view among the mosques of Istanbul. The mosque, a beautiful building, is in the Baroque style. It is in a unique location on the Bosphorus, and sure it is one of the 10 most famous mosques in Istanbul you must see.
Its dome, covered with rose mosaics, is enhanced by its placement on the main walls. Likewise, the mihrab of the Ortaköy Mosque or Mecdiye Mosque, which consists of two minarets with one balcony, is made of marble and mosaics.
This mosque, with its vast and high windows, carrying the variable and colourful lights of the Bosphorus into the mosque, as well as two minarets, which have impressive examples of stone carving art, is an indispensable address for photographers.
The mosque was restored and strengthened several times. However, due to its exposure to earthquakes or the danger of fires, the last restoration was in 2014. Sure It is not classified as one of the famous 10 mosques in Istanbul for nothing.
You can take the buses that depart in the direction of Beşiktaş to go to Ortaköy Mosque, which is located in a very central location in Ortaköy Square.
6. Beyazıt Mosque
Beyazıt Mosque, one of the first examples of classical Ottoman architecture, was commissioned by Sultan Bayezid II. Beyazıt built it about 50 years after the conquest of Istanbul.
Beyazıt Mosque was severely damaged due to natural disasters such as earthquakes and lightning strikes, but it was restored and renovated. The Bayezid Mosque- one of the 10 most famous mosques in Istanbul- as is the case in the Sultanate Mosques includes a bath, guesthouse, primary school, and caravanserai.
In the graveyard of the mosque, you can find the II. Beyazıt’s grave. The architect of the mosque, which has survived to the present day due to the renovation works, is unknown. You can reach the Beyazıt Mosque by tram or train; it’s one of the 10 most famous mosques in Istanbul you must visit.
7. Hırka-i Şerif Mosque
Hırka-i Şerif Mosque is another mosque from the list of the 10 famous mosques in Istanbul; it’s located in Istanbul’s Fatih district. Hırka-i Şerif Mosque, built in 1851, has an important place in terms of the religious folklore of Istanbul.
Hırka-i Şerif Mosque (Al-Khrqa Al-Sharifa) means the cloak or mantle of the Prophet Mohamed’ peace be upon him; Sultan Abdulmecid built it to preserve the cloak that Mohamed gave to Uwais Al-Qarni. The reason why Hırka-i Şerif Mosque is so vital in terms of religious folklore is that it is the place where Hırka-i Şerif is kept.
Hırka-i Şerif Mosque – one of the 10 most famous mosques in Istanbul- is distinguished by its vast dome in the middle of its courtyard. Two minarets stand on both sides, adorned from the inside with many Quranic verses written in beautiful Arabic script.
If you happen to be in Istanbul, please do not forget to visit the Hırka-i Şerif Mosque.
8. Mahirmah Sultan Mosque
There are two mosques, one in Edirnekapı and the other in Üsküdar, built in the name of Mihrimah Sultan, the daughter of Süleyman the Magnificent. That was a rumour that; Süleyman the Magnificent had said, “May one cheek be as bright as the sun and the other cheek as bright as the moon” when naming his daughter and called her Mihrimah, which is a combination of the words Mihir meaning sun and Mah meaning moon.
Mimar Sinan builds the features of the two mosques. Suppose you stand at an angle to see both mosques as the sun rises between the mosque’s minarets in Üsküdar. In that case, the moon sets directly above the mosque’s dome in Edirnekapı.
In the evenings, the opposite is true. Üsküdar Mihrimah Sultan Complex and Mosque, around which Üsküdar district is shaped, catches the eye of thousands of people every day with its central location. Edirnekapı Mihrimah Sultan Mosque was built after the mosque in Üsküdar. When Mihrimah Sultan told Mimar Sinan to determine the mosque’s location, Mimar Sinan chose Edirnekapı to refer to the name Mihrimah.
The two mosques of Mihrimah Sultan are central, so you can reach the mosques if you prefer any transportation options such as metro bus, metro, tram, or bus.
9. Rüstem Pasha Mosque
Rüstem Pasha is the Grand Vizier or the Prime Minister in the era of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, as well as the husband of his daughter Mihrimah. The Rüstem Pasha Mosque, built by the most famous engineer in the Ottoman Empire, Mimar Sinan, is considered one of the most beautiful mosques in Istanbul. Mimar Sinan abandoned his usual simplicity in the buildings.
Rüstem Pasha Mosque is famous for being covered with beautiful decorative pieces, considered one of the unique examples of Ottoman court art and distinctive ceramic pieces from Turkish Iznik, which was an essential source in the production of ceramics time.
In Istanbul, it contains this quantity of this famous ceramic, and perhaps what increases the splendour of the mosque is that it includes a large number of red ceramics, which were rare at that time due to the difficulty of their production. You can go to the Rüstem Pasha Mosque, on our list of the 10 most famous mosques in Istanbul, through alternative transportation options such as trams or buses.
10. Yeni Cami (Valide Sultan Mosque)
Yeni Cami, or The New Mosque, whose foundations were laid in 1597 by order of The III Sultan Murad’s wife, Safiya Sultan, was built only in 1665. The great efforts and donations of Turhan Hatice Sultan, IV Mehmet’s mother, played a significant role in completing it. It is the last great mosque built by the Ottoman family in Istanbul.
In addition, the mosque that took the longest to be built during the Ottoman Period is again the Yeni Mosque. The mosque’s construction, which added visual richness to Istanbul in that period, was started by architect Davut Agha, completed by architect Dalcij Ahmed Agha and completed by architect Mustafa Agha.
In the area where the mosque is located, the tomb of Valide Sultan, a primary school, Hünkar Pavilion, a school teaching and memorising the Qur’an, and a public fountain were built along with the mosque. In the following times, a tomb, chronology, and library were added to the complex.
The mosque, which was severely damaged in the great fire in Istanbul in 1660, was restored by order of Köprülü Mehmet Pasha and brought to the city. Buses can be used to reach the New Mosque.
Here, dear reader, we have finished our enjoyable tour among the beautiful historical mosques of Istanbul -the list of the 10 most famous mosques in Istanbul- in which every stone speaks of the beauty and splendour of those historical eras he experienced.
I hope the last lines were a simple reference for choosing among the best mosques you would like to visit in Istanbul.