Suleymaniye Mosque- A fantastic figure in Istanbul

Suleymaniye Mosque- A fantastic figure in Istanbul

Suleymaniye Mosque

You know that it is impossible to talk everything about Istanbul. But, there are many major places worth to be explained such as Hagia Sophia, Sultanahmet, Topkapi Palace, Dolmabahce Palace, Kadikoy, Uskudar and more on. Also, we can’t miss the Suleymaniye Mosque.

You know Istanbul has many great mosques. So, we agree that the Blue Mosque is the greatest among all, but we can still say that the Suleymaniye Mosque is the second best.

When you are at the Eminonu Pier, just raise your head and look around. OK, you notice that, right? The fantastic one standing on the top of the hill. The structure is definitely splendid and inspiring. When we visit those structures, we are always amazed. Even the mosque has been restorated a couple of times, it stands for 500 years. Is it fantastic, isn’t it? But, this is the signature of one of the top architects in the Ottoman Empire- Mimar Sinan, so this is normal.

Suleymaniye mosque on the hill
The mosque on the hill

Additionally, if you can come here during Ramadan, you can definitely feel the spiritual atmosphere. A lot of people enjoy every square meter of the complex. Some people pray inside the mosque, some of them visit the tombs, some of them enjoy the balcony or roof view and some of them sit on the meadow grass and read religious books.

Especially, we love visiting Suleymaniye Mosque at nights. The reason is the lighting is very good. Moreover, you can simply see the colorful bridge and enjoy the view.

Suleymaniye Mosque a view at night
Suleymaniye Mosque at night

We think that you are also planning to eat beans and rice at restaurants just outside of the complex. Please don’t miss this combination, because this is one of the best in Istanbul.

Suleymaniye Mosque- History

Standing on the top of the third hill of Istanbul and overlooking Golden Horn. The mosque was designed by the legend Ottoman architect (mimar in Turkish) Sinan and commissioned by Sultan Suleyman- the Magnificent. And, it simply represents the simplicity and magnificence. Even Mimar Sinan stated that Selimiye Mosque was his masterpiece, Suleymaniye is also fantastic. Based on some resources, he spent a very long time to arrange the mosque acoustically in order to make every prayer to listen to the sermon clearly.

Magnificent Suleyman ruled the empire for 46 years (1520-1566) and it was definitely “golden-age” of the empire. And, the mosque was built between 1550 (some resources show as 1549 and we wrote as 1549 in the comparison table below, it is normal :))-1557 [1]. So, it looks like this is the best architecture completed in his period.

Sultan Suleyman ordered to construct the complex to show the empire strength to other empires or kingdoms after the victories in Balkans.

Moreover, it had some big troubles in the past. There was a big fire severely damaged the mosque in 1660. And then, it was restored and the architect- Fossati changed the original design little bit. Another one, the courtyard was used as a weapons depot during World War I and there was another fire damaged it.  It was restored after a while. Moreover, the mosque had a big three-year restoration and re-opened in 2010. We hope there will be no such a long period in the near future. We are lucky that this fantastic mosque is still standing after these problems.

Additionally, Suleymaniye Conservation Area is in Unesco’s World Heritage list.

Suleymaniye Mosque- What does the complex contain?

The mosque is part of the complex. At those times, mosques were constructed as consisting of a hospital, hammam (Turkish bath), soup kitchen, library, and madrasah. This one also contains these places. Additionally, there is a cemetery around Sultan Suleyman’s and Hurrem Sultan’s tombs.

The tomb
Suleymaniye Mosque- the tomb

The mosque itself contains four minarets. Two of them have two serefes (balconies) and two of them have three serefes. The reason of these numbers, total four balconies on two minarets represents Suleyman the Magnificent is the fourth emperor after the conquest of Constantinople and the total number of balconies ten represents Suleyman the Magnificent is the tenth emperor after the empire’s foundation.

Additionally, there are a total of three entrances to the mosque. It has an inner courtyard having a fountain for the ablution.

There is a great view of Suleymaniye you will definitely enjoy it.

Bridge view
View from Suleymaniye

Suleymaniye Mosque- Interior design

The capacity is 27,000 [2], not the biggest but still one of the top mosques. Camlica Mosque in Istanbul has just been opened and it can serve up to 63k people.

The mosque’s simplicity is definitely amazing. There are some calligraphies on the walls containing quotes from Qur’an, a few tiles and stained glasses. The columns carrying central dome were brought from Afyon (a city in Turkey) and Baalbek (a region between Lebanon and Egypt).

Dome of the mosque
Suleymaniye Mosque- the dome

The chandelier is low such as other mosques. You will be seeing Minbar (Imams use for sermons) and Mihrab (indicating the direction of Mecca) on the forward side. Additionally, this one has also Sultan lodge.

Mihrab, Minbar and calligraphy
Suleymaniye Mosque- interior

Suleymaniye Mosque- Who is buried?

There is a cemetery around the tombs who were significant people in history. Considering the tomb of Kanuni (the Lawgiver- another nickname of Sultan Suleyman) also known as Great Turk, there are seven sarcophaguses which belong to Suleyman II., Ahmad II, Sultan Suleyman, the daughter of Sultan Suleyman- Mihrimah Sultan, Suleyman II.’s mother- Saliha Dilasub Sultan, Ahmed II.’s Haseki- Rabia Sultan and his daughter Asiye Sultan.

The tomb of Sultan Suleyman
Sultan Suleyman’s tomb

Hurrem Sultan passed away before Suleyman the Magnificent’s death. There are three sarcophaguses which belong to Suleyman’s wife- Roxelana is known as Hurrem Sultan, the son of Sultan II. Selim or the nephew of Sultan Suleyman and the daughter- Hanim Sultan of Hatice Sultan who was the sister of Sultan Suleyman.  

The tomb of Hurrem Sultan
Hurrem Sultan’s tomb

Prayer times

This is six times per day. Basically, each of them is calling the prayers at different times during the day starting from midnight (Fajr in Arabic), morning (Tulu in Arabic), noon (Zuhr in Arabic), afternoon (Asr in Arabic), evening (Maghrib in Arabic) and night(Isha in Arabic).  

Visiting hours

This is a mosque, so it never closes unless there is a restoration. They should be open all the times to welcome prayers. The critical point is you should avoid visiting the mosque at prayer times. Basically, we would recommend not to go there before and after 30 minutes each of prayer times. So, check this link out to see the timetable [3].

We recommend you to check the complex between morning-noon or noon-afternoon.

Fridays are also different. People are always together to pray for noon. So, it is mainly very crowded but not much like the Blue Mosque. The sermon takes more time and it lasts around 1.5 hours for a full praying. So, be careful with your timing and avoid to go there till 2 p.m. But, since the complex contains some other places, we are sure that you will spend the time with another activity if you are there during the praying.

Suleymaniye Mosque- Ramadan

Suleymaniye area in the Ramadan is definitely different than the ordinary months. So, if you can come in the Ramadan period, you can feel the spirit since the area is fascinating and inspiring. Believe that your religion doesn’t really matter.

People are waiting for call of the prayer to break fast
Suleymaniye Mosque- a Ramadan evening

As quick info, the Muslims mostly fast in this month which means eating and drinking nothing from sunrise till sunset and breaking the fast at the evening call to prayers. So, the Ramadan month really directs those people to religious activities such as spending time around these spiritual places. Please note that the Ramadan month depends on Hijri or Islamic calendar which also means every year it shifts based on the Gregorian calendar. You can check this link to find out Ramadan period in Gregorian calendar up to 2030 [4].

Another point we should mention that Ramadan month is in spring and summertime right now. We assume the weather is also affecting crowdedness. We are curious during wintertime and the Ramadan will definitely be cold in Istanbul after 2025 :).

In conclusion, our best time to visit Istanbul post is also valid for Suleymaniye, however, Ramadan is very different.

Dress code

Check this figure out. As info, we published this figure in our Blue Mosque’s post, but this is still valid for every mosque. As you know, the mosque continues to serve as a mosque. So, the environment itself is still dynamic. Due to being still used as a mosque, you should be careful about your dress. It is simple, you should cover yourself a little bit and that is all. Basically, as a man, you should wear at least shorts to cover your knee. Of course, you need a sweater or t-shirt to cover your upper body :). If you are a woman, you also need something to cover your legs. And your upper section should not be exposed. Make sure you are good to go based on this figure.

Suleymaniye mosque dress code
Dress code

Entrance fee

There is no ticket sold to enter the complex. It is totally free, so there is no admission fee. Please note that if you can pray in any mosque, they can’t charge you. So, it is donation based. The museum pass question is not valid for this one.

One of the best thing about Suleymaniye mosque is cleanliness. Inside of the mosque is super clean, even better than the Blue Mosque. We visited a couple of times, every time we are surprised about the cleanliness. So, we hope you feel the same when you visit it. So, it deserves a donation :).

Comparisons

Suleymaniye Mosque vs Blue Mosque

This is a good comparison. They both have big domes and these big domes are supported by smaller ones. While constructing the Blue Mosque, basically they were influenced by the Suleymaniye Mosque. So, we can say that the structure is similar. But, when you check the inside, you can understand that Suleymaniye represents simplicity while the other one represents splendor. Even it has some tiles and stained glasses, it is not in large quantities such as the Blue Mosque. However, they both have calligraphies and sultan’s lodges.

Suleymaniye Mosque vs Hagia Sophia

We think that the Blue Mosque is the top in Istanbul, however, Suleymaniye is the second best and definitely worth visiting.

This is not a good comparison. Because, comparing Hagia Sophia with any cathedral, mosque, etc. doesn’t make sense. Hagia Sophia stands for 1500 years, it was a church, after the conquest of Constantinople, the Ottomans added minarets and it has been used as a mosque for a long time. And then, after the Turkish Republic foundation, it was converted to a museum. So, you can understand that Hagia Sophia’s story is totally different.

Hagia Sophia is in another segment, it was one of the finalists of world wonders competition because of its interesting story and amazing structure.

For these reasons, we will not directly compare the Hagia Sophia and this mosque. But you can see some comparisons regarding their features. [2]

Feature comparison
Hagia Sophia, Suleymaniye and Blue Mosque comparison

Where is the Suleymaniye Mosque?

The mosque is in Fatih district and historical peninsula. The official address is Suleymaniye Mah, Prof. Siddik Sami Onar Cd. No:1, 34116 Fatih/Istanbul.

How to reach Suleymaniye Mosque- Transportation Guide

Here are some tips about how to get to the Suleymaniye mosque from other tourist attraction places. Please note that there is no specific metro station around the area. Minibusses are an option but we don’t think it is necessary.

Eminonu/Grand bazaar/Spice bazaar to Suleymaniye

We recommend you to walk from the pier or grand bazaar or spice bazaar till Suleymaniye. It is not far away. Since the complex is on the hill, this means you will feel hot and exude if you walk from the pier :). So, it will take around 20 minutes. But from Suleymaniye to these locations, walking thru the streets and down to the sea level, you will really enjoy it.

Otherwise, if you are lucky enough you can catch a taxi and go there in 5 minutes. But it is only 1.5 km or 1 mile, so we believe this is achievable.

Taksim to Suleymaniye

You can take a taxi to go there. It is not a big deal and close. However, we recommend you to catch M2 metro line and go till Yenikapi stop and then walk around 10 minutes right after you get off from the train.

Sultanahmet or Topkapi Palace to Suleymaniye

Since they are both in the historical peninsula, they are close to each other. You can come from Topkapi, Sultanahmet or Blue mosque to Suleymaniye around 20 minutes by walking.

The taxi option is still valid. If you feel tired, you can catch T1 to Bagcilar direction and get off from the train at the Beyazit-Kapalicarsi/Grand Bazaar station. But, you still should walk around 10 minutes.

Kadikoy/Uskudar to Suleymaniye

From Kadikoy or Uskudar, you should come to Eminonu by city line ferries or Turyol ferries. And then you know what to do as explained in Eminonu to Suleymaniye section.

Suleymaniye Mosque restaurant-cafe

You are in Suleymaniye area and you know what to eat. There are a couple of good restaurants serving beans and rice. They also have some kebaps but don’t prefer it. This is one of the best locations to eat bean and rice combination. You can order bean, rice, pickles, and cacik- tzatziki (a kind of cold soup made of yogurt and cucumber). If your stomach is still good to have a dessert, you can order Kemalpasa or pumpkin dessert.

Ali Baba Kanaat and Erzincanli Ali Baba, they are both good. You can prefer one of them, Kanaat is slightly better, but you will not regret Erzincanli.

Restaurants around the complex
Kanaat Restaurant

There are some good cafes around Suleymaniye where you can enjoy the view on a rooftop. We suggest you check Mimar Sinan Teras Cafe, but you can try any of them around this are. But please note that those cafes mostly do not serve alcohols.

Conclusion

The külliye (complex) does not only contain a mosque. It has tombs of fantastic figures in the Ottoman empire. The roof or balcony is great that you can take a look at the bridge and the Golden Horn.

It is totally worth visiting. Don’t forget to eat bean and rice, be careful about prayer times.

References

  1. http://www.istanbulkulturturizm.gov.tr/EN-174345/suleymaniye-mosque.html
  2. http://wowturkey.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=1378402
  3. http://www.namazvakti.com/Main.php?WSLanguage=EN
  4. https://www.infoplease.com/calendar-holidays/major-holidays/islamic-holidays
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