The Mosque of
Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent
(1557) is Istanbul's largest
Designed by the Ottoman
Empire's greatest architect, Mimar
Sinan, the Süleymaniye dominates
the city's Third Hill, just north
of Istanbul University, overlooking
It's an easy walk of less than 10
minutes around the university from Beyazıt
Square and the Grand
Bazaar to the Süleymaniye.
After three years of extensive restorations
by architects and calligraphers under
the watchful eye of architectural historians,
and expenses of TL21 million, the mosque
was re-opened to visitors during Kurban
Bayramı in 2010.
To get the full effect of the architect's
design and Süleymaniye's grandeur, you should walk to the northwest
side of the mosque on Şifahane Sokak
and enter the courtyard by this main
entrance and through the grand courtyard.
The mosque is open every day,
If you are not Muslim, avoid visiting
within 30 minutes after the call to
prayer, and from noon to late afternoon
on Friday (the Muslim holy day). More...
Inside the Süleymaniye is simply breathtaking
in its expanse, a near-square 58 meters
(63 yards) by 59 meters (64 yards). Süleyman—and his genius
architect, Mimar Sinan—attempted to
rival the spaciousness of Ayasofya
(Hagia Sophia) by hiding the massive
buttresses that support the dome,
incorporating the buttresses into the
walls, and adding rows of porphyry
monolith columns beneath the tympanums
on either side. Although not as large
as Ayasofya, the Süleymaniye exceeds
it in feelings of light and openness.
The mosque complex (külliye) includes a
hamam, imaret (soup
kitchen, now a fine restaurant serving
Ottoman cuisine), theological colleges (medrese),
a hospital (darüşşifa) and
medical school, a primary school, and
a caravanserai/hostel for travelers.
Some of these, such as the hamam and
imaret, are still open to the public.
You'll also want to visit the
beautiful, elaborate tombs of
Süleyman and his sultana Roxelana (Hürrem
Sultan) in the garden behind the
mosque (donations accepted). The tomb
of Mimar Sinan is
outside the complex at the intersection
of Mimar Sinan Caddesi, Fetva Yokuşu
and Şifahane Sokak (map).
Şifahane Sokak (map)
Beyazıt, Istanbul, Turkey
—by Tom Brosnahan
the resplendent mausoleum of
Süleyman the Magnificent,
richest and most powerful Ottoman emperor