The Suleymaniye Mosque was built by the world-famous Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan between 1551 and 1558, by order of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. It is widely regarded as an architectural masterpiece and is a must-see for anyone visiting Istanbul. Although some believe that this mosque was constructed during Sinan’s apprentice period and that his real masterpiece is the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, Turkey’s border city on European territory.
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Tips for Suleymaniye Mosque Visitors:
- Attraction Type :Historical Site, Mosque
- Entrance Fee (Appr.USD) :FREE
- Visiting Time (hours): 1-2
- Dress Code: Clean socks / Proper dress for Ladies provided at the entrance (Body and Head must be covered) / Men: at least t-shirt and Pants under knee level
- Special Tips:Crowded at prayer times
- Open: Everyday 08.00 – 21.30
- Address: Süleymaniye, Prof. Sıddık Sami Onar Cd. No:1, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye
You can easily walk from Eminönü to the Suleymaniye Mosque or take the tram to the Grand Bazaar. You can reach the Süleymaniye Mosque after a few minutes walk from the Beyazıt-Kapalı Çarşı tram stop.
Best hours to visit: 9-10 am
Suleymaniye Mosque Map, Directions, Neighbourhoods
The interesting legend of Suleymaniye Mosque
Here is the untold story of the Suleymaniye Mosque, which has survived over a hundred earthquakes in Istanbul without any damage to its walls:
The Süleymaniye Mosque and its complex were constructed by Suleiman the Magnificent to emphasize the power and glory of the Ottoman Empire. During the construction, Suleiman felt troubled by the never-ending work, and rumors began to rise.
One day, the Sultan decided to visit the Süleymaniye Mosque to evaluate the situation himself. As he entered the grand mosque, he spotted Mimar Sinan sitting in the center of the mosque, smoking his hookah. The Sultan asked, “What is happening here?” But, to his surprise, there was no tobacco in the hookah as the Master Architect was smoking only water.
Architect Sinan measured the mosque’s acoustics by listening to the bubbling of the hookah, in order to distribute the voice of the imam evenly throughout the entire mosque.
To achieve even sound distribution throughout the hundreds of square meters of space, the architect arranged 65 large hollow cubes at the base of the dome with their openings facing outward. These cubes were brought from various parts of Anatolia. Sultan, who was initially displeased, later understood the architect’s intentions and forgave his master.
In addition to this, Architect Sinan constructed an air corridor within the Suleymaniye Mosque. Since there was no electricity available yet, he illuminated the mosque with 275 large oil lamps.
Sinan built a small chamber above the main door of the mosque to protect it from the soot produced by the lamps. The soot was collected in a special room using cavities placed in different parts of the building. Sinan also installed a humidification system in this chamber, which was called the Soot Chamber. The soot collected was then used to make high-quality ink.
The walls of the Süleymaniye mosque are adorned with breathtaking pen works, writings, and decorations. What makes these even more impressive is that they were created using ink distilled from the soot of the mosque’s lamps, employing the science and technology of 458 years ago.
Suleymaniye Mosque Drone Video
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Suleymaniye Mosque Photos
Heartbreaking Story of broken rosebud branch engraved on the tombstone
The Süleymaniye Mosque, constructed between 1551 and 1557, houses a remarkable tombstone in its treasury. This tombstone is not just a testament to superb craftsmanship, but it also commemorates the life of a young girl named Fatima Müşerref, who died at a young age. The tombstone features a broken rosebud, symbolizing her death at the tender age of 17. Fatima was the daughter of Mustafa Fevzi Bey from Thessaloniki.
The Celi talik inscription on the tombstone is 11 lines long and reads as follows: “Dear visitor, lying beneath this stone is one of the purest, most intelligent, and beautiful young girls. Death took her away at the age of 17. This young flower was taken from her parents’ love very early and was intelligent, knowledgeable, and exceptional. Let us pray for a moral, respectable, and innocent soul. Written on Wednesday, January 13, 1325 (Gregorian 1910).”
The tombstone has a broken rosebud carved in relief on its headstone, symbolizing the girl’s untimely demise. On the foot tomb, a veil drapes down in waves, representing her wedding attire. The tomb’s pedestal bears the signature of the Greek master P.C. Pascalidi, who was responsible for creating this deeply moving tombstone.
Why is Suleymaniye Mosque important?
The Süleymaniye Mosque, built by the great architect Koca Sinan on the order of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, is considered one of the most important examples of Classical Ottoman architecture. Though Sinan humbly referred to it as a “journeyman’s work”, he meticulously calculated every detail of the structure.
The mosque’s 53-meter-high dome is supported by four minarets, each of which stands 75 meters tall and features three balconies. These minarets symbolize the four sultans who ascended to the throne following the conquest of Istanbul.
The construction of the mosque, which began on June 13, 1550, was completed in just seven years despite the limited resources of the time. The mosque opened to the public on June 7, 1557, with a grand ceremony led by Mimar Sinan, attracting visitors from all around the world.
The Architecture and Cost of Suleymaniye Mosque
The temple, also known as the Süleymaniye Mosque, is estimated to have cost 59 million akçe or 700,000 duka gold during its construction, which would be equivalent to more than $65 billion in today’s money. The mosque was damaged by fire in 1660 and was repaired, but it was defaced during the reign of Sultan Mecid instead of being properly repaired. The engineer Fossati, who was brought from abroad to repair the Hagia Sophia, used oil paint and putty to ruin the elephant’s feet to the arches, which later required a great deal of effort to clean. The inner courtyard of the mosque was used as a saddlery during the First World War. The mosque survived another fire and was finally substantially repaired by the Foundations in 1956, which included the minarets, domes, and arches.
The temple is comprised of a main dome, two half domes, two quarter domes, and ten small domes. The main dome is supported by four pillars, while the dome arches rest on four large granite columns. The 32-window dome has a diameter of 27.25 meters and is 53 meters above the ground. There are 64 cubes, each 50 cm tall, placed inside the dome and in the corners with their mouths open to the inside to enhance acoustics.
Suleymaniye Mosque Interior
The mosque has an interior area of around 3500 square meters, measuring 59 meters in length and 58 meters in width. It is illuminated by 238 windows and features a hünkâr and muezzin mahfis resting on valuable granite and marble columns. The minbar and mihrab are particularly noteworthy for their exquisite marble craftsmanship.
The area to the right of the muezzin’s cloister was formerly used as a library until 1918. The existing books were later moved to the General Library established in Süleymaniye Madrasahs. The front part of the mosque has five doors and beautiful colored windows above the mihrab. These windows were the work of the well-known master of the period, İbrahim Us-ta, and the sunlight entering through them was likened to the Sehper-i Jibril by Sinan the Architect.
The mosque has four very precious granite columns, one of which was brought from Alexandria and the other from Baalbek by special ships. The remaining two were taken from Kıztaşı in Istanbul and the Saray-ı Amire. These four columns, each 9.02 meters high, 1.14 meters in diameter, and weighing 40-50 tonnes, are likened by Mimar Sinan to the Four Caliphs.
Suleymaniye Mosque Interior
The Suleymaniye Mosque has a large inner courtyard surrounded by 28 domed porticoes. The aforementioned dome arches rest on 24 columns, 12 of which are granite, 10 are marble, and two are Somali marble columns. The floor of the courtyard is paved with marble, and there is a fountain in the middle of the courtyard, with an area of 2500 square meters. The mosque also has four minarets and ten balconies built in a style suitable for its magnificence. The minarets rising towards the sky resemble a person who raises both hands in prayer.
“The tombs and madrasas located inside the Süleymaniye Mosque.”
The mosque features beautifully engraved writings by the famous calligrapher Ahmet Karahisarî and his pupil Hasan Çelebi. The tomb in front of the mihrab belongs to Suleiman the Magnificent, who had the mosque built with his own money, and the tomb next to it belongs to his wife, Hürrem Sultan. Sinan the Architect is buried in a modest tomb next to the Istanbul Mufti’s Office outside the mosque garden.
The mosque garden is spread over 6000 square metres and has 11 gates. Seven madrasas, called Süleymaniye Madrasas, have been established around the garden. The buildings around the mosque have been converted into various institutions over the years, such as the Süleymaniye Library, a maternity home, a military printing house, and a Girls’ Qur’an Course.