Suleymaniye Mosque

This mosque is the single best example of classic Ottoman Architecture of the 16th century, dedicated to Suleyman the Magnificent. The domes, the delicate minarets, and the relaxed decoration convey the character of the person for whom it was named: Suleiman the Magnificent (Kanuni Sultan Suleyman)—noble, brave, righteous, and (unfortunately) full with love for a dangerous lady, Hurrem Sultan. Suleiman the Magnificent shares many similarities with Byzantine Emperor Justinian, who built the Hagia Sophia. First, both of them enabled the creation of great temples dominating the Istanbul silhouette. Both men loved one lady and stayed loyal to her, even they though had the right to choose many more, and both ladies were ‘femmes fatale’. And both men expanded their kingdom’s border. Yet for both, their time signaled the beginning of their empire’s decline.

The architect, Mimar Sinan, the genius of Ottoman architecture, used his great skill to build such a fascinating building on the hillside. The mosque is located in the middle of the Old City and is today surrounded by public buildings that include a hospital, a soup kitchen, a dormitory, Turkish baths, a library, and a school. All parts of this magnificent building are still in use today.

The view across the Bosphorus makes the garden one of the best corners in the mosque, as well as the legendry tomb. Suleiman the Magnificent was so loved by his citizens, including Mimar Sinan. And it was for this reason the architect added stars to the dome of his sultan’s tomb, with crystals inlayed into the dome ceiling to reflect the light from the candles.