The Süleymaniye Mosque (Süleymaniye Camii) is the largest mosque in Istanbul. The mosque crowns one of the seven hills dominating the Golden Horn and provides a magnificent landmark for Istanbul.
This architectural wonder designed by Mimar Sinan built in 1550, during the rule of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. Sinan wanted a monument worthy of his name, the Hagia Sophia, built a thousand years earlier, inspired the design of the Suleymaniye Mosque. The mosque is the finest of the 42 surviving mosques he designed for Istanbul.
Inside, the mosque is breathtaking in its size and pleasing in its simplicity. There’s little decoration except for some fineİznik tiles in the mihrab (niche indicating the direction of Mecca). The gorgeous stained-glass windows are done by one İbrahim the Drunkard; and four massive columns, one from Baalbek, one from Alexandria and two from Byzantine palaces in İstanbul.
Thanks to a three-year, multimillion-dollar restoration project completed in late 2010, the Süleymaniye can now be seen in its full glory. The tomb of Sinan is just outside the walls, on the northern corner. The tombs of his patron, Süleyman the Magnificent, and the sultan’s wife, Roxelana, are housed in the cemetery adjacent to the mosque.
The külliye, or mosque complex, still includes a hospital, library, hammam, several schools, and other charitable institutions that mosques traditionally operate. Take a stroll around the beautiful grounds—and don’t miss the incredible views of the Golden Horn.
Address: Prof Sıddık Sami Onar Caddesi, Istanbul (near Istanbul University’s north gate)