Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and holds over 3000 mosques! The mosques are famous for its Ottoman and Byzantine influenced Architecture, and take my word for it when I say they will take your breath away.
With 3000 mosques it’d be fair to ask “But which ones should I go for?” and I’m here to answer that for you.
I’ve chosen these specific mosques purely because of their background and historical context. All of them have a story behind them. Also all the mosques are free to enter, be mindful if it is prayer times, you may need to wait til prayers are over before given access.
Modest clothing for both men and women that cover the full body and women should also have their hair covered. Caps are also seen as disrespectful, so should be removed.
If you are not fully dressed- do not panic. Most mosques have a bank where you can pick up a shawl or cover up to borrow.
So here’s my 6 Top mosques to visit in Istanbul. You ready?
1. Sultan Ahmet Camii- The Blue Mosque
The first of my top mosques to visit in Istanbul has to be The Blue mosque. It is still under construction yet they do allow certain hours in the day where you can have access inside to a small section.
Sitting directly outside The Hagia Sophia it is a direct competition. Famous for its Blue interior (hence the name), the 20000 tiles inside make the mosque a thing of beauty. This mosque is the biggest and the last mosque constructed in the Ottoman Era.
2. Hagia Sophia
A quick history lesson: The Hagia Sophia was Initially built as a church in 532. In the 1400’s it was converted to a Mosque. After WW1 it was then a museum where for access there was charge.
This was one of the most visited tourist Locations in Istanbul, where you had a mixture of Christians and Muslims wanting to see the awe that is Hagia Sophia with its Byzantine and later ottoman influenced architect and design.
In 2020 President Erdogan replaced it back as a mosque. Although a Mosque at its current state, the Hagia Sophia can still be seen as all three. A mosque for the Muslims, A Church for the visitors who are free to pray, and also a museum for the tourists. All at no cost.
Entering this place with absolutely take your breath away- that’s a promise I make to you.
3. The Grand Camlica Mosque
Built in 2019, the newest mosque on the block and its just as stunningly beautiful. The Turk’s know one thing in life and that is how to build the most beautiful mosques. And this one had to be in my list of top mosques to visit in Istanbul.
Now this one is a little different and reflecting of modern times. Designed and built under the observations of 2 female architect’s (yes I said females!) This mosque is the largest in Istanbul by far holding 63000 people both inside and out.
Commissioned by President Erdogan himself the symbols and ideology behind the mosque is what makes it even more powerful.
Both the female architects wanted this mosque to be a safe space for females, and a place of positive discrimination for women.
4. Ortokoy Mosque
Juxtoposition between the Old and the new.
The Ortokoy mosque was built in 1855 on the Ortokoy Pier. It took 2 years to build and its really small as compared to the other mosques ive mentioned before, but its still as magnificent.
Being such a small mosque the large interior windows bring the light in and flood it with brightness. The colours used inside the mosque are pink and nudes, all further enhance the light into the mosque.
The reason why this mosque is one to visit is because it sits on the pier with the Bhosphorus bridge right behind it, such a photographic moment showing the contrast in the old and the new
5. Eyup Sultan Mosque
As well as beauty this mosque holds a special story too. Eyup Sultan Mosque in the area of Eyup Sultan is a very special mosque and holds a history of its own.
The area in which its sits has a sense of calmness you will not feel anywhere else. Its such a peaceful and soft environment, so different for the crazy of ‘Sultanahmet’ . I also feel like the people here are different too( have you ever felt that In places you have visited?)
The mosque is beautiful, both inside and out, with its high domes, dropping chandeliers and also its the first mosque Iwent to with underfloor heating!!! I could stay here all day and night!
6. Sulemaniye Mosque
Sulemaniye Mosque built after ‘Suleyman the Magnificent’ who was not just a sultan but rather a ‘peace keeper’ and by far the most giving of all the Sultans.
This mosque was not just a mosque- it was a soup kitchen, hospital, library, resting lodge for travellers, library and bazaar, and from the size of the mosque and the courtyard you will see how it all fit in.
Suleyman the Magnificent built this as a place of worship as well as a charitable foundation to house and feed the poor and needy regardless of faith.
So these have to be my top 6 mosques to visit in Istanbul, so if your there for a short stay, make sure you fit in a couple. With over 3000 mosques I’m sure on my next visit I will be going to more and learning more.
Are their any mosques you would recommend to me for my next visit?
Have you been to any of these? How did you find it?
Love and regards