Best Mosques In Istanbul

Istanbul, a city steeped in history and culture, is a magnet for both local and international tourists. The city’s landscape is dotted with magnificent mosques, each telling a story of its own, especially from the time when the Ottoman Empire sculpted its architectural legacy on the city after the Byzantine era. These mosques, whether through painstaking restoration or the addition of new structures, continue to captivate visitors with their beauty and grandeur. Here are 8 best mosques in Istanbul that stand as testaments to the city’s rich Islamic heritage and are a must-visit for anyone keen to explore the spiritual and architectural wonders of Istanbul.

1. Suleymaniye Mosque

 Suleymaniye Mosque

Nestled in the bustling Fatih district, the Süleymaniye Mosque is a masterpiece that emerged between 1551 and 1557, crafted under the orders of Suleiman the Magnificent by the legendary architect Mimar Sinan. This grand mosque, often referred to as the “eternal mosque” by locals, served not just as a place of worship but also as a center for learning and social welfare in its prime.

The mosque’s design includes four minarets, symbolizing the four sultans from the conquest of Istanbul until its construction. The 10 balconies on these minarets highlight Suleiman the Magnificent’s position as the 10th sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Beyond its modest exterior, the mosque houses an interior filled with splendor and intricacy.

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Key Features:

Getting There:

A walk from Eminönü or a tram ride to the Grand Bazaar, followed by a short walk from the Beyazıt-Grand Bazaar tram stop, will get you there.

Visiting Information:

The mosque is open to visitors outside prayer times from 08.00 to 21.30 and offers free entry. As an active mosque, it’s closed during prayers.

2. Fatih Mosque

Fatih Mosque

In the heart of Istanbul’s historic Fatih district lies the Fatih Mosque, a symbol of deep-rooted traditions and a rich past. Commissioned by the legendary conqueror Fatih Sultan Mehmet in the mid-15th century, this architectural gem was the brainchild of the esteemed Atik Sinan, also known by his real name, Sinaüddin Yusuf bin Abdullah. Over the years, the mosque has weathered numerous earthquakes and has been rejuvenated through several restoration efforts, though some of its original structures like the dormitory, hospital, bazaar, and baths no longer stand. Present-day visitors are treated to a serene complex that includes madrasahs, libraries, tombs, and almshouses, reflecting the mosque’s historical significance.

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Getting There:

Reaching the Fatih Mosque is straightforward from anywhere in Istanbul. Those coming from the Asian side can take a ferry to Eminönü and then a bus straight to the mosque. Alternatively, a scenic 30-minute walk from Eminönü offers a different perspective of the city.

Key Features:

Visiting Information:

Open for visitors outside prayer hours without an entry fee, the Fatih Mosque invites you to experience the spiritual essence and traditional beauty of Istanbul’s bygone eras.

3. The Hagia Sophia Mosque

Hagia Sophia Mosque

Nestled in the Sultanahmet district of Fatih, Hagia Sophia, often hailed as the 8th wonder of the world, showcases a rich tapestry of history and architectural grandeur. Originally erected as a cathedral between 532 and 537 under Byzantine Emperor Justinian I’s directive, this monument has seen transformations across centuries – from a cathedral to a mosque following the Ottoman siege of Istanbul, later becoming a museum in 1935, and reverting to a mosque in July 2020 after 85 years.

So impressive is its construction that it is said to have evoked envy in Mimar Sinan, the illustrious Ottoman architect, who aspired to match its grandeur with his own creation, the Selimiye Mosque, which he called his “masterwork.”

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Key Features:

Getting There:

Getting to Hagia Sophia Mosque is effortless. Located in the bustling Sultanahmet Square, it’s accessible via the Bağcılar-Kabataş tram line, alighting at Sultanahmet stop.

Visiting Information:

Visiting Hagia Sophia Mosque is an open invitation to everyone, free of charge, outside prayer times. This allows visitors to explore the mosque’s awe-inspiring architecture and delve into its rich historical past at their leisure.

4. Sultan Ahmet Mosque

Blue Mosque

In the heart of Istanbul’s historic peninsula, the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, often referred to as the “Blue Mosque” by travelers, stands as a captivating masterpiece of Islamic architecture. Initiated by Ahmed I in 1609 and completed in 1617, this mosque was a grand project designed by Architect Sedefkâr Mehmed Ağa, a pupil of the legendary Mimar Sinan. Despite Ahmed I’s less remarkable military achievements, he aspired to construct a mosque that would outshine the revered Hagia Sophia in both magnitude and splendor, leading to its strategic positioning right across from Hagia Sophia. This setting offers visitors a unique opportunity to compare the grandeur of both iconic structures.

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Key Features

Getting There:
Conveniently located opposite Hagia Sophia, the mosque is easily accessible via the Bağcılar-Kabataş tram line, with the Sultanahmet stop being your gateway to this architectural marvel.

Visiting Details:
The Sultan Ahmet Mosque warmly welcomes visitors for free from 09.00 to 19.00, allowing them to experience its active spiritual life and intricate beauty up close.

5. Eyüp Sultan Mosque

Eyüp Sultan Mosque

In the heart of Istanbul’s Eyüpsultan district lies a mosque not just made of stone and mortar, but of faith and history. The Eyüp Sultan Mosque, where Eyüp Sultan, a close companion of Prophet Muhammad, is laid to rest, was first built in 1458. Fast forward to 1800, after a significant restoration, it stands as a sign of religious significance and architectural marvel, crafted by the hands and minds of three distinct architects.
This mosque isn’t just another dot on the map of Istanbul. It’s a pilgrimage destination, drawing Muslims from all corners of the earth, especially during religious festivals. Though it might get crowded and visiting could be restricted during these times, the mosque holds a special place in the hearts of believers.

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Key Features:

Getting There:
Whether you’re coming from within Istanbul or across the world, reaching the Eyüp Sultan Mosque is straightforward. Buses 39, 39D, and 39K drop you at its doorstep, while Metrobus users can disembark at Ayvansaray-Eyüp and take a scenic walk towards the Golden Horn.

Visiting Details:
The doors of the Eyüp Sultan Mosque are open to visitors every day, free of charge. For those interested in exploring deeper, the Eyüp Sultan Tomb within the mosque complex is accessible from Monday to Sunday, 09.30 to 16.00, offering a peaceful retreat into the mosque’s spiritual essence.

6. Camlica Mosque

Camlica Mosque

The Çamlıca Mosque in Üsküdar, Istanbul, merges Ottoman and Seljuk styles into a new architectural marvel, making it a fresh emblem of the city. This grand mosque, the largest built in the Republic’s history, opened its doors on March 7, 2019. It’s designed to accommodate up to 63,000 worshippers across its 15,000 square meters, including both its 10,000 square meter indoor area and 5,000 square meter outdoor space.

Each aspect of Çamlıca Mosque’s design carries symbolic weight: the main dome stretches 72 meters high, representing the 72 nations residing in Turkey, while its 34-meter diameter honors Istanbul’s city code. The dome features 16 of Allah’s 99 names, each one reflecting one of the 16 Turkish states throughout history. Its six minarets signify the six pillars of Islamic faith, and their heights of 107.1 meters nod to the pivotal 1071 Battle of Manzikert, marking the Turks’ entrance into Anatolia.

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Key Features:

Getting There:
Catch bus lines 14F, 14FD, 15C, 15CA, or 320, or take a minibus to Çamlıca Hill from the Altunizade Metrobus stop.

Visiting Details:
Feel free to visit Çamlıca Mosque anytime, as entry is completely free.

7. Ortaköy Mosque (Great Mecidiye Mosque)

Ortaköy Mosque

Ortaköy Mosque, officially known as Great Mecidiye Mosque, sits in Istanbul’s Beşiktaş district, showcasing stunning Ottoman Baroque architecture. It’s particularly noted for its aesthetically pleasing dome, embraced by four corner towers, and two gracefully tall minarets. Positioned right by the Bosphorus Bridge, it offers a captivating sight.

The mosque’s origins trace back to the 1700s but faced destruction due to a riot, leading to its rebuild in 1853 by Sultan Abdülmecid, with Armenian architect Nigoğos Balyan at the helm. The Ortaköy Mosque stands out for the elaborate exterior decorations, including carvings and reliefs that breathe life into its facade.

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Key Features:

Getting There:
To visit, hop on bus lines 22, DT1, DT2, 40T, or 42T, disembarking at the Kabataş Boys’ High School stop. From the Anatolian side, the Kadıköy-Ortaköy ferries offer a direct route.

Visiting Details:
Entrance is free, with visiting hours from 04.00 to 22.00 daily. An evening visit is highly recommended to experience the mesmerizing Bosphorus view under the night sky.

8. Yeni Cami Mosque

Yeni Cami Mosque

Yeni Cami Mosque,  also known as Valide Sultan Mosque , is located in the Eminönü district of Fatih district .

Even though it’s called the New Mosque, it’s truly an emblem of history. Its construction kicked off in 1597 under the directive of Sultan Mehmet III’s mother, Safiye Sultan, but came to a halt upon the Sultan’s demise and Safiye Sultan’s decline in influence. It was eventually completed in 1665, thanks to Sultan Mehmet IV’s mother, Hatice Turhan Sultan, whose tomb resides within the mosque’s complex.

Key Features:

Getting There:
To visit, catch any of the bus lines 28, 30D, 32, 46Ç, 47E, 54E, 66, 78, 93, EM1 to the Eminönü stop. For those journeying from the Anatolian side, the Kadıköy-Eminönü ferry offers a scenic route.

Visiting Information:
Admission to the New Mosque is free, welcoming visitors outside prayer times to explore its rich history and architectural beauty.

Other Mosques Worth Seeing in Istanbul

Teşvikiye MosqueTeşvikiye, Şişli
Nuruosmaniye MosqueMollafenari, Fatih
Underground MosqueKemankeş Kara Mustafa Pasha, Beyoğlu
Laleli MosqueKemal Pasha, Fatih
Little Hagia SophiaKüçükayasofya, Fatih
Pertevniyal Valide Sultan MosqueIskenderpasa, Fatih
Molla Zeyrek MosqueZeyrek, Fatih
Beyazıt MosqueBeyazıt, Fatih
Dolmabahçe MosqueÖmer Avni, Beyoğlu
Şehzade MosqueKalenderhane, Fatih
Mihrimah Sultan MosqueMimar Sinan, Üsküdar
Beylerbeyi MosqueBeylerbeyi, Üsküdar
Rustem Pasha MosqueRustem Pasha, Fatih
Sokullu Mehmet Pasha MosqueKüçükayasofya, Fatih
Tiled MosqueValidei Atik, Üsküdar
Taksim MosqueGumussuyu, Beyoglu
Hırka-i Şerif MosqueAtikali, Fatih
Arab MosqueGalata, Beyoglu
Kalenderhane MosqueKalenderhane, Fatih
Kılıç Ali Pasha MosqueKemankeş Karamustafa Pasha, Beyoğlu
Valide-i Cedid Mosque