Thursday, October 17th 2019

Visit to Suleymaniye Camii is a great alternative to the Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque (or Sulatn Ahmed Mosque) and Haghia Sophia pop in one’s mind when Istanbul is mentioned. Few people think of the Suleymaniye mosque. The former two dominate the skyline of Istanbul and can be seen from many places of the city. Both played important role in history and religions life of Byzantine, Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. First time visitors have these two iconic monuments on their must-see list. Great chances that one visits them on 2nd and even 3d visit.

While Haghia Sophia is a truly unique pearl of Istanbul which used to be a Christian church in Constantine’s Byzantine, later converted and rebuilt into a mosque during the reign of the Ottomans, and today being a museum, many visitors seem to overate its beauty and completely overlook another great mosque. And I am not an exception as only during my 4th visit to Istanbul I discovered the Suleymaniye mosque. This mosque stands on the Third Hill of Istanbul above Eminonu area not far from the Grand Bazaar.

Süleymaniye Suleymaniye Mosque Istanbul

Inner yard

I believe most of the people go straight to the Blue Mosque and Haghia Sophia, then to the Grand Bazaar and have no energy to reach the Suleymaniye Camii. Being less visited this mosque wins by being less crowded and peaceful. No queues, no waiting, and one can spend as much time as one wants to contemplate one’s life in calm serenity of this mosque. Or just learn about the history of the mosque.

Süleymaniye Suleymaniye Mosque Istanbul

The Süleymaniye Mosque was built on the order of Sultan Süleyman (Süleyman the Magnificent). The sultan ordered this work from the architectural genius Mimar Sinan who worked as a civil engineer for a number of sultans. The construction work began in 1550 and the mosque was finished in 1558.

Süleymaniye Suleymaniye Mosque Istanbul

Inside the mosque

As with other imperial mosques in Istanbul, the Süleymaniye Mosque was designed as a complex with adjacent structures to service both religious and cultural needs.

The wall paintings and decoration of the mosque are very impressive. Most probably they are more impressive than those of the Blue mosque.

Süleymaniye Suleymaniye Mosque Istanbul

The interior decoration is very subtle and the design is simple.

Süleymaniye Suleymaniye Mosque Istanbul

The Dome

The Süleymaniye was ravaged by a fire in 1660 and was restored by Sultan Mehmed IV. Part of the dome collapsed again during the earthquake of 1766.

Süleymaniye Suleymaniye Mosque Istanbul

Subsequent repairs damaged what was left of the original decoration of Sinan (recent cleaning has shown that Sinan experimented first with blue, before turning red the dominant color of the dome).

Süleymaniye Suleymaniye Mosque Istanbul

The design of the Süleymaniye also plays on Suleyman’s self-conscious representation of himself as a ‘second Solomon.’ It references the Dome of the Rock, which was built on the site of the Temple of Solomon, as well as Justinian’s boast upon the completion of the Hagia Sophia: “Solomon, I have surpassed thee!” The Süleymaniye, similar in magnificence to the preceding structures, asserts Suleyman’s historical importance. The structure is nevertheless smaller in size than its older archetype, the Hagia Sophia.

Süleymaniye Suleymaniye Mosque Istanbul

In the garden behind the main mosque there are two mausoleums including the tombs of sultan Suleiman I, his wife Roxelana, his daughter Mihrimah, his mother Dilaşub Saliha and his sister Asiye. Other sultans were also buried here. Just outside the mosque walls, to the north is the tomb of architect Sinan.

Süleymaniye Suleymaniye Mosque Istanbul

Cemetery at the Süleymaniye Mosque

This mosque makes a great place to visit especially during a hot summer day. Once inside you can cool off and admire the sultan’s attempt to leave another trace of himself in the history of the country.

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One Comment on “Visit to Suleymaniye Camii is a great alternative to the Blue Mosque”

  1. […] Interior is plentifully decorated with mirrors and all the inside shines and sparkles. It looks quite impressive. But frankly speaking I don’t really like this kind of decoration. I prefer more traditional Islamic murals with traditional Islamic patterns like in Turkish mosques. […]

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