Istanbul has many amazing mosques, so this is just a small selection of ten Istanbul Mosques that represent astonishing architectural achievement. A true legacy for generations to come.

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque

Besides the Yeni Mosque, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is the last great project of classical Ottoman architecture. The construction lasted about ten years, and it was completed in 1609 during the rule of Ahmed I. The floor plan is based on the model of the Shehzade Mosque. The architect was Mehmet Aga, an apprentice of Mimar Sinan. The mosque is located across Hagia Sophia and is one of the skyline symbols of Istanbul and the favourite tourist destination. It’s popularly known as the Blue Mosque for the richly decorated blue Iznik tiles. The central dome is supported on four huge pillars to give a special distinction of internal space. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is also the only Ottoman mosque with six minarets.

image Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image The dome of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

The Suleymaniye Mosque

The most eminent architect in the 16th-century was Mimar Sinan, who shaped the classical style. All mosques were very important but the masterpieces of his architectural achievements are the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul and the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne (1570-1574). The Suleymaniye Mosque is one of the most monumental example of the classical Ottoman architecture. The mosque is decorated with Iznik tiles with stylized flowers and arabesque as the dominant motif. The Mosque is a significant architectural complex and includes turbets, madrassas, a hospital, a public kitchen, a bath and more. All the major mosque constructions in the Ottoman architecture include additional facilities that cover different needs of believers.

image Suleymaniye Mosque. Photo by Amar Čudić

image Suleymaniye Mosque. Photo by Amar Čudić

The Valide Sultan Mosque (Yeni Mosque)

The Valide Sultan Mosque is an Ottoman imperial mosque located in the Eminonu district of Istanbul, near the famous Bazaar, called the Spice Bazaar. It was commissioned by Safiye Sultan, Sultan Murad’s III wife. The construction started in 1597 during the rule of Sultan Mehmet III, and was completed more than half a century later in 1660. The architect who made the initial project was Davut Aga, an apprentice of Mimar Sinan, while its completion was done by Mustafa Aga. The floor plan of the Yeni Mosque was very similar to the Shehzade Mosque. It stands out with the elegant forms and rich interior decorations.

image Yeni Mosque. Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image Yeni Mosque, interior. Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image Yeni Mosque at sunset. Photo by Amar Čudić

The Bayezid II Mosque

The Bayezid II Mosque is an Ottoman imperial mosque located in the Bayezid Square area of Istanbul. It represents the best-known mosque which preceded the classical style. Located in the heart of the old town, next to the Grand Bazaar. The architect of this mosque was Mimar Hajrudin who created a number of very successful and well known projects such as the Bayezid Mosque in Edirne. The built of the Bayezid II Mosque began in 1500 and was completed in 1505. The design contains the central dome surrounded by semi-domes on all four sides. This mosque is currently under restoration.

image Bayezid II Mosque by night. Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image Bayezid II Mosque. Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

The Shehzade Mehmed Mosque

One of most important monuments of classic Ottoman architecture, the Shehzade Mehmed Mosque in Istanbul is comparable in size to other royal mosques built by sultans in Istanbul, or other centres, like Edirne and Bursa. However, this royal mosque, unlike most others, does not carry the name of a Sultan. It was built between 1543-1548 by Sultan Suleyman I, the Lawgiver. However, it was dedicated to his son, prince Muhammed who died in 1543 at age 21. This makes the mosque unique and even today represents a moving symbol of father’s love for his deceased son.

The mosque was built in the historic core of Istanbul, in Fatih square. It was built on what is called the third hill of Istanbul. Designed and built by Sinan, it was the famous architect’s first large mosque, since accepting the prestigious function of first architect of the Ottoman empire in 1538. With the Shehzade Mosque he expresses his originality and even then, quite maturely, he presented what we now consider the classic Ottoman’s architecture.

image Shehzade Mehmed Mosque. Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image Shehzade Mehmed Mosque. Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

The Yavuz Selim Mosque

The Yavuz Selim Mosque is the second oldest existent imperial mosque in Istanbul, overlooking the Golden Horn. The architect is assumed to be Ajem Esir Ali, who was originally a Persian. He was the main architect of the Ottoman empire before Mimar Sinan. His name was linked to two other famous mosques, the Selim Mosque in Konya and the Gazi Husrev-Beg Mosque, Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The interior plan of the mosque is a simple square room, 24.5 meters on each side, covered by a shallow dome, 32.5 meters in height. This mosque is perhaps the most striking example how the Ottoman architects needed to cover the ground plan with a central dome, as much as possible. The floor plan is identical with the Bayezid Mosque in Edirne, especially as they both have two side rooms, connected with a central prayer hall.

image Yavuz Selim Mosque. Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image Yavuz Selim Mosque. Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

The Murat Pasha Mosque

The Murat Pasha Mosque is located in the Aksaray district of Istanbul. Built in 1473 it is one of the oldest Istanbul mosques as it was built only twenty years after the conquest of the city. Its founder Murat Pasha was the vizier during the rule of Mehmed el-Fatih. The design belongs to the Bursa style, with a central prayer hall covered with two identical sized domes. The concept of centralized space dominated by the main dome will be accepted much later during the classical style. The most interesting decorative-functional parts of the mosque are the stalactite decorations on the dome. External walls were made of stone and brick. Murat Pasha Mosque is the largest complex in the city donated by a vizier.

image Murat Pasha Mosque. Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image Murat Pasha Mosque, two domes. Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

The Atik Ali Pasha Mosque

The Atik Ali Pasha Mosque is an old Ottoman mosque located in the Çemberlitaş, the neighbourhood of Fatih district in Istanbul. It’s one of the lesser known Istanbul mosques, but very important for understanding the development of Ottoman style. It was built in the heart of Istanbul in 1497, close to the Bayezid II Mosque. The architect is not known, but we do know that at that time the main architect of the Ottoman empire was Mimar Hajrudin. The Mosque was commissioned by Grand Vizier Atik Ali Pasha who held that position from 1501 to 1503, and then again from 1506 to 1511. The floor plan has many similarities with the Fatih Mosque and the Bayezid II Mosque, especially when it comes to the relationship between the central dome and the dome that shelters the area above the mihrab.

image Atik Ali Pasha Mosque, two domes. Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image Atik Ali Pasha Mosque, two domes. Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

The Mehmet Pasha Mosque

The Mosque was commisioned by Mehmed Pasha Sokolović, the most important Ottoman Grand Vizier in history, of Bosnian origin. He was Grand Vizier for three sultans: Suleyman the Lawgiver, Selim II and Murad III. The Mosque was built in 1572 in the Kadirga district in Istanbul. The architect was Mimar Sinan, who claimed that this is his most successful smaller mosque. Inside the mosque complex is the famous Madrasa. The proportions of the mosque are in harmony so the entire project leaves a remarkable impression on the visitor. The central dome and four corner domes dominate the space. The interior of the Mosque is famous for its large quantities of exquisite İznik tiles, set in a very wide variety of blue and green floral designs, with panels of calligraphy presenting white letters on a blue background which decorate the mihrab wall. The panels were painted with hatayi ornaments (large stylized flower patterns) and represent the highest level of ceramic tile art.

image Mehmet Pasha Mosque. Photo by Velid Hodzic

The Nuruosmaniye Mosque

This Mosque is located in the heart of the old Istanbul, next to the Grand Bazaar. Its size and beauty transcends all subsequent projects. It represents a blend between European and classical Ottoman architectural style. The Nuruosmaniye Mosque has a centralized area, with a dome diameter of 24,75 meters. The construction of the Mosque started in the period of Sultan Mahmut I in 1748. However, he soon died, and his place as the sultan was replaced by his brother Osman III (r.1754-1757). The Mosque was finally completed in 1755 and got the name dedicated to the new sultan, Nuruosmaniye (Osman’s Light). Both sultans were buried beside the Yeni Mosque, so there is no sultan’s grave next to the Nuruosmaniye Mosque.

The development of Ottoman architecture can be divided into several periods, including the most controversial Baroque period, when artistic ideas from Europe were slowly influencing the Ottoman art. The Mosque was built in Baroque style that was present through entire 18th-century and beginning of 19th-century.

image Nuruosmaniye Mosque. Photo by Amar Čudić

  • xm sherry
    Jun 08, 2011 - 11:22:41

    Wow,so wonderful I can’t express my feeling with words now!

  • amarcudic
    Apr 29, 2011 - 4:05:43

    First image on top of the page is Yeni Cami (New mosque) in Istanbul at sunset. Photo was taken from hotel at Sirkeci. April 2007. smile

  • Naysawn Naderi
    Mar 29, 2011 - 15:42:11

    These are some amazing shots. Great job!  I tried to show the beauty of some of the mosques I recently visited but I don’t think i came close to your quality.

  • interior design colorado
    Mar 01, 2011 - 5:39:48

    This post is indeed a worth read and is very interesting, keep it up1

  • aytac kurtuba
    Dec 12, 2010 - 21:45:16

    Very nice news and pictures ... Best wishes from Türkiye ...

Add a comment
(to add comment, please )