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Lovely architecture and gardens
Completed in 1557 under Süleyman the Magnificent, Suleymaniye Mosque is arguably the crowning achievement of architect Mimar Sinan. Built on Istanbul’s highest hill, it is visible for miles.
The approach is along Prof Sıddık Sami Onar Caddesi, formerly known as ‘Addicts Alley’ because its cafés sold hashish. This is no longer the case, although the area’s tea houses are still very popular student hangouts. The low-rise, multi-domed buildings surrounding the mosque are part of its külliye (compound), and include a hospital, asylum, hamam and a soup kitchen.
Walk through the gardens and arcaded courtyard, whose columns allegedly came from the Byzantine royal box at the Hippodrome, until you enter the mosque – remarkable for its soaring central prayer room, illuminated by some 200 windows. The interior decoration is minimal but effective; it includes stained glass added by Ibrahim the Mad and sparing use of Iznik tiles (which Sinan would later use profusely at the Rüstem Pasha Mosque, just down the hill).
Behind the mosque are several türbes (tombs), including Süleyman’s own beautifully restored grave. Haseki Hürrem, the sultan’s influential wife, a former slave known as Roxelana, is buried beside him.
Süleymaniye Camii Süleymaniye Mh. Profesör Sıddık Sami Onar Caddesi 1, Istanbul
Phone: 0212 511 1769
Open Hours: 9am-7pm daily
Price: Cost money