Süleymaniye Camii

Located on the Third Hill, Süleymaniye Camii is the largest mosque and one of the most distinctive sights in Istanbul.

TravelCurious Tip

Look out for the tomb of Mimar Sinan, Istanbul’s Michelangelo and the architect of this mosque: he is buried near the Sultan in a cemetery just to the north, across a street named Mimar Sinan Caddesi in his honour.

The Magnificent

Süleymaniye Camii was built on the orders of Sultan Süleyman from 1550 to 1558: he was known as The Magnificent, and his mosque is no less impressive. It is an exceptionally grand religious complex.

Most striking on first sight of the exterior is the distinctive profile of its enormous dome, 53 metres high and 27.5 metres in diameter, and at its construction the highest dome in the Ottoman Empire. In front of the mosque is an imperial courtyard surrounded by four minarets, which was an honour allowed only to sultan-endowed mosques (princes and princesses were permitted just two, and other mosques only had a single minaret). The columns of its peristyle colonnade are made of granite, marble and porphyry.

Second Solomon

The mosque itself is a grandiose statement: the Sultan styled himself as a ‘second Solomon,’ referencing in the mosque’s design the Dome of the Rock which was built on the site of Solomon’s tomb, and recalling Justinian’s boast on completing the Hagia Sophia - ‘Solomon, I have surpassed thee!’ Nonetheless, the interior is quietly elegant. It makes restrained use of Istanbul’s characteristic İznik tiles, which find much more elaborate expression in Rüstem Pasha Mosque and elsewhere; its minbar and mihrab are of plain white marble, and the woodwork is subtly decorated with inlaid ivory and pearl.

Originally the mosque formed part of a vast complex including a hospital, public baths, a primary school and public kitchen or imaret; many of these structures are still in existence today, the imaret having become a well-regarded restaurant and the hospital a printing factory. The tomb of the Sultan himself can be found in the garden behind the mosque.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Istanbul
Grand Bazaar
One of the world’s oldest and largest covered markets, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is the ultimate shopping spot.
Spice Bazaar
An indoor market built in the 17th century, famous for its fantastic herbs and spices.
The Bosphorus
Separating East and West, the dramatic Bosphorus strait is perfect for a fabulous cruise.
Turkish Han
Ottoman structures built as urban hotels, stables, and wholesale marketplaces.
Sehzade Camii
Dedicated to Sultan Süleyman's son, this peaceful place showcases the early talents of Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan.
Galata Köprüsü
The famous bridge over the Golden Horn, with wonderful views of old Istanbul.

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