Discover the Magnificent Süleymaniye Mosque: A Hidden Gem in Istanbul

  • 13 June 2023

History of the Süleymaniye Mosque

The Süleymaniye Mosque, located in Istanbul, is often overlooked by visitors due to time constraints and the abundance of attractions in the city. However, this magnificent complex, built during Ottoman times, offers a range of facilities for the public, including a madrasa, library, hospital, school, Turkish bath, kitchen, and stores. Within the complex, you can also find the mausoleum of the powerful Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and his wife Hürrem Sultan, known as Roxelana, with whom he had a great love affair.

Perched on one of Istanbul's seven hills, the Süleymaniye Mosque stands out as a gem when viewed from the Golden Horn's edge or the Historical Peninsula. This was the intention of architect Mimar Sinan and Sultan Suleiman, as they wanted to commemorate the greatness of Suleiman the Magnificent with a historical monument in the heart of ancient Istanbul.

As you stroll through the grounds around the mosque, you'll experience a sense of intuition and serenity. Unlike the Blue Mosque, there are no long queues or chaos here, allowing you to fully appreciate the architecture and embark on a spiritual journey. The mosque's courtyard, adorned with porphyry, marble, and granite columns and riwaqs, exudes a mystical splendor and symmetry. Once inside the mosque, you'll be greeted by a simple yet splendid interior. The dome, walls, and columns lack ornate ornamentation, but their walls, columns, engravings, and stained-glass windows envelop you in a complete sense of tranquility. The Süleymaniye Mosque epitomizes simplicity and serene knowledge.

The dome of the mosque rises 47 meters high, supported by elephant foot pillars on all four sides, creating an illusion of a larger central space compared to the Blue Mosque. The scale and flawless symmetry of the Süleymaniye Mosque's structure are remarkable, showcasing why Mimar Sinan is renowned as the greatest architect in the Ottoman Empire's history. While Selimiye Mosque is often considered the pinnacle of Sinan's design, the Süleymaniye Mosque undoubtedly stands as Istanbul's finest.

Adjacent to the mosque, you'll find the graves of Suleiman and his wife Roxelana (Hürrem Sultan). From the southern wing of the mosque, you can enjoy one of the finest views of Istanbul. The narrative of Roxelana's transformation from a young handmaiden to Sultan Suleiman's bride is a legendary tale. As Suleiman the Magnificent's wife, Roxelana played a significant role in the empire's power structure, becoming the first and most powerful woman of the Sultanate of Women period.

The Süleymaniye Mosque welcomes visitors starting at 8:30 a.m., with access available until 6:00 p.m., except during prayer hours. Before your visit, it's advisable to check the current prayer schedule. While in the area, you can also explore nearby historical sites such as the Hagia Sophia Mosque and the Basilica Cistern, allowing you to immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of the region.