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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
Blue Mosque
A beautiful and elaborate place of worship, the Blue Mosque is the most important legacy of a roguish Ottoman Sultan.
Topkapi Palace
The Sultans’ royal residence for four centuries, today Topkapi Palace is a spectacular museum.
The Bosphorus
Separating East and West, the dramatic Bosphorus strait is perfect for a fabulous cruise.
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.
Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum
Once the palace of Ibrahim Pasha, this museum houses a unique collection of calligraphy, tiles and rugs.

Related Tours

Explore the Bosphorus Tour
A cruise along the Bosphorus allows visitors to see Istanbul's beautiful sights from the comfort of a boat.

  • Learn about the European and Asian cultures, which merge to make Istanbul unique
  • Cruise along the Bosphorus in a group cruise tour (1.5 hrs)
  • Photograph the beautiful architecture as you pass

Unique View of Istanbul

Explore the great city of Istanbul from the comfort and convenience of an extensive cruise on the Bosphorus. You will have the pleasure of learning about the famous stretch of water that straddles both the Asian and European continents as you cruise past some of the best sights Istanbul has to offer. Look out for the stunning Dolmabahçe Palace with its ostentatious façade as well as the 15th century Rumeli Hisarı Fortress and Beylerbeyi Palace where Ottoman sultans spent their summers.  Make yourself comfortable on deck and take in the beauty of the Bosphorus.

Melting Pot of Cultures

During the cruise you will get the chance to truly experience the meeting of East and West, focused in the great city of Istanbul, as well as learning more about the important historical effects of the meeting of diverse cultures and traditions. While differences have been rooted within Turkish history, and have at times resulted in tension, the mix of different cultures and faiths in Istanbul has indeed fuelled the creation of the amazing, and utterly unique city that you see today.

Travel Curious Tip: Visit the Grand Bazaar before your cruise slot, and pick up some authentic Turkish snacks.

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