The Süleymaniye Mosque is an Ottoman imperial mosque located on the Third Hill of Istanbul. It is the second biggest mosque in the city and one of the most-known sights of Istanbul. Built on under the rule of Sultan Süleyman in 1550, it blended Islamic and Byzantine architectural elements. It combines tall, slender minarets with large domed buildings supported by half domes in the style of the Byzantine church Hagia Sophia.
Süleymaniye Mosque may not get the attention given to Hagia Sophia or the Blue Mosque but it is nevertheless an essential part of the Istanbul skyline. Suleyman became Emperor in 1520 and ruled for nearly half a century, rightly earning the title ‘’Magnificent’’ as the Empire flourished and Suleyman earned the respect of his citizens for his wisdom. He had ruled for over 30 years by the time this mosque was completed. It was the architect Mimar Sinan who was charged by Suleyman with the task of designing this mosque and it took 7 years to complete. The complex involved not just the main prayer area; there was a library, hospital and hospice, madrasa and kitchen, hamam and shops. It was the most significant Ottoman structure at that time even though it was perhaps less ornate than some other mosques of the period. That mattered not.
Süleymaniye Mosque is part of one of the most recognizable skylines in the world. Even modern building has failed to damage the view over the Bosphorus towards Europe and the many buildings that have so much history to tell. The Mosque was completed in the middle of the 16th Century when the Ottomans has ruled the city for around a century. Suleyman was the 10th Ottoman Sultan, ruling for 46 years until his death in 1576. He had been Sultan for some years when he asked the architect Mimar Sinan to build a mosque on the Third Hill of Istanbul overlooking the Golden Horn. Only Hagia Sophia is larger. It may not receive the number of visitors that go to Hagia Sophia or the Blue Mosque but it is a shame if visitors to Istanbul don’t go to see it close up. There is an outer courtyard and once visitors enter the inner courtyard, they will see four minarets in the corners, two 74 meters high and two 56 meters. The former two have three balconies, the latter two. Four notes Suleyman as the 4th Sultan since the taking of Constantinople and the 10 balconies that Suleyman was the 10th Sultan overall. There is a small portico and domes to shade people from the sun in the summer and rain in the winter. A fountain is in the middle for visitors to wash but it is not in use today. There are three entrances to the mosque itself which is covered in carpets with low chandeliers offering dim lighting to show how it might have appeared when all the candles were lit. There are 138 windows and the dome has a diameter of 27 meters with the ceiling 53 meters above the carpeted floor. The arches are massive with large columns supporting the main dome and smaller half domes. There is a simplicity about the place with lovely floral design, patterns and calligraphy from the Koran. There is an old cemetery outside and Suleyman, his wife and Sinan all have mausoleums in the compound. The Mosque closed for renovation in 2007 and reopened three years later to once again be enjoyed by all. The entrance is from the inner courtyard with visitors taking their shoes off before entry. Camera with flash is allowed and that is not always the case elsewhere in Istanbul.