Ottoman Empire was established in the north west of Anatolia in the land of Bilecik province of Republic of Turkey today. The nomads of Central Asia traveled a long distance from their mother land to Near Asia and founded one of the most powerfull empires in the late middle ages. During their reign, they have used Bursa, Edirne and Istanbul as their capitals. For many historians, the middle ages terminate with the fall of Constantinopolis in 1453. The architects of Istanbul started to ger inspired from the architecture of the Byzantiums and erected marvellous mosques in their former and present capitals. Here is my top 5 Ottoman Mosques in Republic of Turkey.
Edirne is located in the north west of Turkey. The city is neighbors two provinces of Turkey along with Greece and Bulgaria. It was conquered by the Ottomans in the 14th Century and was the capital of the Ottomans for a century until Constantinopolis was conquered by Fatih Sultan Mehmet. Selimiye however, was built by Sultan Selim II, who is the successor of Soliman the Magnificent. He wanted to get Selimiye built in the former capital of the empire. The most famous architect of the Ottomans; Grand Sinan started the construction in 1568. Even though they were planning to open the mosque to public in 1574, they have delayed the grand opening to March 14, 1575 as Selim II passed away in December 15, 1574. For me, the most impressive part of the mosque is the dome which is 141 feet above the floor and 102 feet in diameter. The minarets of the structre are 275 feet and greet every passenger arriving to Edirne city from miles away. The architect Sinan considers the mosque as his masterpiece as well. For the last 444 years, Selimiye still flashes in the world of architecture and registered to UNESCO in 2011.
As well as building beautiful structures throughout the land of the Ottomans, Grand Sinan raised a great number of architects. Sedefkar Mehmed is just one of them and I am sure made Sinan proud with his great work in the Blue Mosque. Turkish people call it Sultanahmet as it was funded by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I. It took 8 years to finish the construction which worth every day spent. The tiles are so flashy that visitors of the capital of the Ottomans gave him the 'Blue Mosque' nickname which is very well deserved. All details of the high Turkish engineering can be seen in Sultanahmet mosque. It is always beautiful to watch Sultanahmet bidding farewell to the sun from the Asian part of Istanbul. The dome stands just a foot lower than Selimiye which is considered a salute from the apprentice to his master. It is the first mosque with 6 minarets reflecting the power of the Ottomans in the beginning of 17th Century. Sultanahmet became the main mosque of Istanbul in 1935 when Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum. For the last 402 years, Sultanahmet Mosque proudly embellishes the skyline of Istanbul.
The mosque of Suleymaniye was built by the architect Grand Sinan in between 1550 and 1557. The dome of the structure stands 173 feet above the floor and hold the record of classical period of Ottoman Architecture. 90 feet wide dome covers an area of more than 13000 feet praying area and among the biggest mosques of the Ottomans. Even though its architect does not consider it as his masterpiece, Sinan is buried in a small modest tomb in the construction site. Soup kitchen, hospital, library, madrassah, shops and a Turkish Bath encircles the mosque creating a center of pray, education, foundation and a social center. Soliman the Magnificent is the financier of the structure which is located on a higher hill behind the world famous Grand Bazaar. A half day is recommended to visit the mosque and the surrounding structures which will take anyone into a journey to the flashy oriental times of the Ottomans.
4. Rustem Pasa
Even though it is claimed that the mosque was finished in 1562, the architect Sinan was still browsing for an area for the construction of this little modest Ottoman Mosque. The son in law of Soliman the Magnificent, Rustem Pasa asked Sinan to build this mosque and sponsored the project. The mosque was built in the second floor of a few shops as the area was very close to the Spice market. This was a way to protect the mosque from humidty as the mosque has impressive tiles. May be it is because you are closer ot the tiles in this small work of art but the details in the tiles are so amazing that it is this blue making the sky jealous. Recently restored, Rustem Pasa Mosque await its visitors exploring the Eminonu area and the Spice Market.
5. Buyuk Mecidiye
Ortakoy is among the most popular recreational spot for the locals and tourists of Istanbul. Small shops vending street food, tea houses, water pipe cafes are attracting thousands everyday to come and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Bosporus of Istanbul. Every traveler has Buyuk Mecidiye Mosque in their frame. It is among the few mosues located by the water in Istanbul. The structure is a beautiful elegant example of the baroque style. It was built in 3 years by the famous family of architects; Balyans. It was first opened to the public in 1856 by Sultan Abdulmecid I. There are beautiful calligraphy works of the Sultan inside the mosque as well. The mosque is located a few steps away from the famous Dolmabahce palace which was also built by the same family.
You can visit Rustem Pasa and Suleymaniye mosque during our 4 day Istanbul package. Besides, you can see the Buyuk Mecidiye Mosque while you cruise in the bosporus or ask our guide to pay a visit to it as well.