The shimmering capital of the Ottomans, and also the country’s largest city, Istanbul’s surreal skyline screams architectural excellence with its magnificent mosques and soaring minarets piercing the skies. While the Byzantines adorned Istanbul with beautiful churches and palaces, along came the ambitious Ottomans and bedecked the city with breathtaking imperial mosques, thereby blessing Istanbul with one of the planets most intriguing skylines. No travel to Istanbul can ever be complete without checking out at least a handful of its staggering mosques.
Here is a list of top 10 mosques in Istanbul that you must visit.
Standing proud on the top of a hill, the stunning Suleymaniye Mosque is truly marvellous! Situated close to the north gate of Istanbul University, this beautiful mosque lures tourists with it breath-taking Ottoman architecture and sensational views of Istanbul’s skyline. Hailed as one of the largest mosques in Istanbul, the 16th century Suleymaniye Mosque’s main highlights include a splendid courtyard, lush gardens, glistening marble columns, and an incredible 53-metre-high dome. Definitely one of the top 10 mosques in Istanbul!
Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque)
Popularly referred to as the ‘Blue Mosque’, the Sultanahmet Mosque is hands down, one the most fascinating landmarks of Istanbul. With its sublime blue-tiled domes and charming minarets opening out to the sky, one glance at the Sultanahmet Mosque is bound to render one of the most striking sights of Istanbul. Built in the 1600s by Sultan Ahmet, this grandiose mosque also features blue Iznik tiles in its interiors. Just picture the entire mosque being flooded with blue light as the sunlight creeps in from the hundreds of windows of the mosque – astounding sight!
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Easily one of the most splendid architectural marvels of the world, the staggering Hagia Sophia Museum is unlike anything you’ve seen before. Celebrated world-over for its immense historical importance, mind-blowing architecture, and overwhelming interiors, tourists from all over the globe throng this extraordinary museum, that stands testament to a dramatic journey from initially being built as a church, and then being converted into a mosque for hundreds of years, before finally becoming a secular museum.
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Rüstem Pasha Mosque
Constructed between 1561 and 1563, here’s where you’ll find the best samples of Iznik tiles in all of Istanbul! A distinguishing signature of the Ottomans, Iznik tiles held a strong allegiance to politics and empire building during the Ottoman history. A precious gem of Ottoman architecture, the magnificent Rustem Pasha Mosque was built by renowned architect Mimar Sinan, and is conveniently located barely five minutes away from the famous Spice Bazaar – yet another startling attraction of Istanbul.
Boasting of one of the most picturesque settings from all Istanbul mosques, the Ortakoy Mosque, with the Bosphorus Bridge in the background, is one of the prettiest mosques in the city. Officially known as the Büyük Mecidiye Camii, the Ortaköy Mosque astounds its visitors with its neo-Baroque style, ornate exterior, and its massive windows from where the sunlight floods in and highlights the interiors, making it one of the top Istanbul mosques.
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Eyup Sultan Mosque
Located in the Eyup district of Istanbul, the lovely Eyup Sultan Mosque stands outside the city walls close to the Golden Horn, the primary inlet of the Bosphorus. This mosque is revered as one of the most important mosques of Turkey, owing to its location on the site of the tomb of Eyup al-Ansari, the standard-bearer and friend of prophet Muhammad. Killed during the first Arab siege of Constantinople (674-678), Eyup Ansari is said to have hosted Prophet Muhammad at his home, when he moved from Mecca to Medina.
Constructed between 1544-1548, the Sehzade Mosque was built in the memory of Prince Mehmet, the son of Sultan Suleiman 1, who died of small pox at the tender age of 21, in 1543. Considered as the first major building by architect Mimar Sinan, historians state this mosque to be the architect’s first, classical Ottoman masterpiece. Representing a father’s love for his son, this mosque is truly special. It features a charming garden, an attractive exterior, and two elegant minarets.
Also, known as the Valide Sultan Mosque or the “Yeni Mosque”, this fascinating Ottoman imperial mosque is situated in the historic Eminonu district of Istanbul, near the renowned Spice Bazaar. The mosque was commissioned by Safiye Sultan, the wife of Sultan Murad III. Stunning Iznik tiles don the charming, rich interiors of this mosque – clearly one of the most well-known mosques of the city.
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Named after Fatih Sultan Mehmet, the Fatih Mosque is known to be Istanbul’s first grand imperial mosque following the Conquest of Constantinople. Apart from being the burial place of Constantine and other Byzantine emperors, this mosque is also the burial ground of Mehmet the Conqueror (Fatih Mehmet) himself. Monumental in proportion, the mosque also housed a library, several baths, a hospital, a medreses (schools), kitchens, as well as a market. The mosque features a tall central dome, supported by semi-domes, with a pretty interior influenced by Baroque style.
Proffering sublime views of the Bosphorus, the awe-inspiring Dolmabahçe Mosque was built along with the Dolmabahçe Palace, in an elegant neo-classical and imperial style. Sporting architecture that is a tad different from other classical Ottoman mosques, the Dolmabahçe Mosque looks more like a highly-decorated palace hall rather than a holy place, owing to it being designed as a part of the Dolmabahçe Palace. The mosque was commissioned by Bezm-I Alem Valide Sultan, however, following her death, it was completed by her son Sultan Abdulmecid.