Süleymaniye Mosque

Süleymaniye Camii

The Süleymaniye Mosque, the largest mosque in Istanbul, was built at the order of Sultan Süleyman I by an architect Sinan in 1550-1557. Süleyman is considered to be the greatest sultan of the Ottoman dynasty. It was during his reign when the empire reached the highest peak in its development. The mosque is located on the Third Hill of old Istanbul, opening a magnificent view on the Golden Horn. The main dome is 53 meters high and has a diameter of 27.5 meters, which is higher but smaller in diameter than that of the Byzantine cathedral of Hagia Sophia. There exists an interesting legend that a Persian shah sent a lot of precious stones to Sultan Süleyman, as a hint that the sultan might experience lack of money to complete this enormous construction. Süleyman is said to be so enraged that he ordered to throw all the shah’s jewelry into the basement of one of the minarets!

The mosque has four minarets, which meant that Süleyman was the fourth sultan after the conquest of Constantinople, and ten balconies on the minarets signified that he was the tenth sultan of the Ottoman empire. The mosque complex is a large religious culture and charity center. In addition to the mosque the complex also includes a hospital, four medrese, an orphanage, a hammam, a public kitchen which served food for the poor, a Caravanserai for the guests and several fountains. In the middle of the courtyard there is a shadirwan – a fountain for washing before the prayer.

In the yard there is a cemetery with tombs of some prominent people and court nobility. Each gravestone is unlike the others – they are different in their artistic decoration and refinement of execution. There are two mausoleums in the eastern yard of the mosque with tombs of Sultan Süleyman I and his beloved wife Hürrem (Roxelana). For the thousand-year long history of the Ottoman empire it was an unprecedented case when the sultan officially married a woman from his harem! Roxelana became an incarnation of everything he loved in women: she appreciated art, was knowledgeable in politics and gave valuable advice, was an eloquent orator, polyglot and simply a loving woman.

The tomb of the architect Mimar Sinan, designed by himself and constructed shortly before his death, is situated right behind the northern wall of the mosque in a small garden of the house, where he had spent the last days of his life. The tomb is open for public only once a year for the day of "Sinan’s Memory" (April 9).

Address: Süleymaniye, Prof. Sıddık Sami Onar Cad. 1
Opening hours: tombs Mon-Sun 9 am – 5 pm
How to reach: Beyazıt (TR1)
Coordinates: 41.016093, 28.963951