Istanbul // the Süleymaniye Mosque

step inside the Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey: a stunning masterpiece of the influential architect Sinan, overlooking the city's hills and blue waters of the Bosphorus.

one of the best parts of travel is experiencing something new. something out of your comfort zone, something unexpected, foreign and strange. as adults it can be hard to catch that sense of wonder that seems to abound as children. travel is a way we can reclaim that wonder.

my trip to Turkey last summer was the first time I had ever visited a mosque. it was the first time I ever heard the call to prayer [aside from in movies.] and the experience of standing on the terrace outside the Süleymaniye Mosque while the call rang out across the Golden Horn, echoing on the Bosphorous... well, that gave me goosebumps. it was a moment.

the Süleymaniye Mosque was possibly the most beautiful thing we saw in Istanbul.

[I wrote you a fantastic and heartfelt post about it. and then somehow between finishing my draft and the final proofread before publishing... my post deleted itself. except for that one sentence above. what you're reading now is my best recollection, hastily retyped.]

the Süleymaniye Mosque was possibly the most beautiful thing we saw in Istanbul. it's a bold statement to make about a city full of wonders. but something about the the Süleymaniye just got me. the symmetry of everything, the light pouring through arched windows, the lofty domes and shining marble, the fact I was standing inside a 500 year old masterpiece -- it was incredible.

the mosque was commissioned by Süleyman I, also known as the Süleyman the Magnificent. I'd have to say that the monument lives up to the adjective.

in addition to gorgeous tilework, calligraphy, and painstaking detail -- you will notice the lack of tourists. we encountered a handful, but nothing like the swarms elsewhere. though my visit to the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque was special [and still something I recommend to any visitors to Istanbul] it was the the Süleymaniye that stole my heart.

fun fact: in ye olden days, they used to hang ostrich eggs from the chandeliers to keep away spiders. you can see one [or a modern replica] in the above photo. I have no idea if it was actually effective. but, I kindof love that they still keep up the tradition.

also... how amazing are those huge chandeliers?

the Süleymaniye Mosque is the most famous work of an extremely important Ottoman architect, Mimar Sinan. he was one of the world's most influential designers -- and bear in mind that he was a contemporary of both Michelangelo and DiVinci. I mean, his apprentices designed the Taj Mahal. kindof a big deal.

but what really gets me is that as incredible as the Süleymaniye is, there is an even more stunning mosque out there that Sinan considered his ultimate masterpiece. [the Selimiye Mosque, in Edirne]

Sinan was buried in a tomb near the Süleymaniye, in a garden to the north of the terrace. the Sultan Süleyman and his wife are also entombed there. I suggest taking an extra few minutes to explore the garden, and enjoy the views of the city from the terrace.

visiting the mosque

the Süleymaniye is located near the Grand Bazaar, and would make an excellent addition to a visit there. while there is usually appropriate clothing to rent or borrow, you might consider dressing for the occasion. all visitors will need to remove their shoes and have shoulders and knees covered to enter the mosque, while women also are required to cover their heads. we wore slip-on shoes or sandals and brought light scarves to wrap around our heads and shoulders to make things easy.

I would suggest timing your visit to arrive in between prayer times. this will help you avoid both the crowds, and disturbing those at prayer. when at the mosque, please be quiet and respectful, as you would in any place of worship.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...