Suleymaniye Mosque complex Istanbul

Suleymaniye Mosque complex Istanbul

Suleymaniye Mosque complex Istanbul is the biggest mosque which is located in Istanbul city of Turkey and built in the 16th century with the order of Sultan Süleyman I. Suleymaniye Mosque complex is a versatile complex that represents the peck of Ottoman imperial architecture and exceptional beauty in terms of visual aspect and size.  

Suleymaniye Mosque is the most remarkable mosque in Istanbul, which is also remembered as the mosque of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. Istanbul is known as the city built on seven hills. During the Ottoman and Byzantine periods, monumental holy buildings were built on each one of the hills.

Encompassed by Golden Horn, Suleymaniye Mosque completes on the third hill and dominates Istanbul’s flamboyance with its four minarets and massive domes.

Undoubtedly, this Ottoman grand mosque is one of the greatest and largest mosques in Istanbul. It is built in between 1550-1557 years by Mimar Sinan, the most renowned and legendary architect of the Ottoman Empire.

It’s truly a masterpiece created by the chief architect of the Ottoman Empire. Like the other royal mosques of that period, The Suleymaniye mosque was built as a segment of a greater religious complex, known as a külliye.

Suleymaniye Mosque complex pictures, especially, in the past, the core of holy life for the Muslim community. Latterly, the  Suleymaniye complex sets the graves of Sultan Suleyman and the fabulous architect himself, Mimar Sinan.

Mimar Sinan is called as the “father of traditional Turkish architecture,” because of his unmatched designs, which can absolutely be seen in the Suleymaniye mosque features. He was accountable for the striking construction of more than 300 higher structures and other lots of significant projects like schools, madrassas.

The construction of the Suleymaniye Mosque was an enormous project. According to the archival records, soldiers from the military, open paid laborers, enslaved people, and all areas of people contributed to the construction work.

Almost half of the laborers were Christian and another half Muslims. It encompasses the religious diversity of the-then Ottoman Empire.

Outstanding engravings and decorative architectural geometry, and continuous flow of the natural daylight streaming produce a peaceful environment for prayer and meditation. The environment of the mosque supplements much tranquility when the Imam starts emotional recitation of the Holy Quran.

Some similarities may come up between the formation of Suleymaniye and Hagia Sophia in terms of design. The Suleymaniye mosque complex was built with one massive dome that is carried by two smaller half-domes like the Hagia Sophia.

It is presumed that the four minarets of the mosque and their ten stunning balconies signify that Suleyman was the fourth sultan to govern the city and the tenth sultan in the records of the Ottoman empire.

The mosque is full of exceptional details that reflect the brilliance of architect Mimar Sinan. The interior design of the Suleymaniye Mosque complex is breathtaking, and the interior domes stand on 53 m high magnificently.

Exterior Architecture (Suleymaniye Mosque complex Istanbul)

Suleymaniye Mosque complex Istanbul

The Suleymaniye mosque has the entrance, which is foregone by a forecourt with a focal fountain like the other majestic mosques in Istanbul.

The courtyard of the grand mosque comes up with unique beauty with columns of granite, marble, and porphyry. The northwest side of the mosque adorns spectacular beauty with rectangular Iznik tile window lunettes.

It’s the first building where the Iznik tiles cover the radiantly colored tomato red slip under the finish. There are four minarets on the four corners of the courtyard. The two taller minarets look incredibly attractive with having three galleries.

The galleries are higher of 76 m (249 ft) with the lead caps, and without the lead caps, it is  63.8 m (209 ft). These four minarets were used for mosque organized by a sultan.

All the minarets have a total of ten galleries, and that represents Suleiman I was the 10th Ottoman sultan. The central dome has a height of 53 meters (174 feet) and has an of 26.5 meters (86.9 feet), which are equal to half of the height.

During it was building, the dome was the highest in the Ottoman Empire. But it was lower in terms of its center and also smaller in diameter than the Hagia Sophia. Seems from a distance the mosque has four minarets.

At that time, if a prince built a mosque, he could use two minarets. If the ordinary people built a mosque, they could use one minaret. But the Sultan could only use four minarets. At the base of the minarets, the mosque has ten hanging balconies.

These ten porches also encompass that the Sultan Suleyman I was the tenth sultan of the empire. There is a large open spot near the mosque. Many families visit here and spend their time. The shrine of Sultan Suleyman and his wife Hurram Sultan is located on the west side of the mosque.

A large courtyard lies in the middle of the four minarets of the mosque. There is a fountain in the right middle of the courtyard that provides three sorts of water for drinking: hot, cold, and cold sweat.

Interior Architecture (Suleymaniye Mosque complex Istanbul)

The interior of the mosque is like a square area, which is 59 meters (194 feet) in length and 58 meters (190 feet) in width. The dome is decorated with the semi-domes and the south and north arches with tympana-filled windows, which is incorporated by immense porphyry monoliths.

Most probably, the great architect Sinan decided to make a comprehensive architectural innovation to hide the enormous north-south buttresses to help these central piers. Sinan structured a single gallery inside and a Two stories gallery outside as well.

The central decoration is bound to the qibla wall, which is stick to stained-glass windows. Iznik tile revetments have been used around the mihrab. These constant rectangular tiles look like a floral pattern on a white ground.

The colors of the flowers are magnificently red, black, and blue with turquoise. But the green color has not been used. On each side of the mihrab, large Iznik tile calligraphic roundly placed with text from the Al-Fatiha surah of the Holy Quran.

Generally speaking, the mihrab and mimbar are simple in design with white marble. The woodworks bear simple designs with the mother of pearl and ivory. The inside design of the grand Suleymaniye mosque is really eye-catching as each portion of the interior space highly decorated.  

The interior dooms are marvelous in design, and they all attract tourists and worshipper’s eyes. The mosque is particularly based on various domes. After all, any edges of the mosque are built-in with many domes.

Any sounds in the interior of the mosque can echo, and the reflection of the words comes up with waves that feel so sweet. The idea of the dome of the Suleymaniye Mosque complex basically came from Hajia Sofia. The design of Hajia Sofia was so marvelous, and that inspired many countries in Turkey to the Middle East.

Hajia Sofia worked as a pioneer to build many more mosques in Turkey. The dome of Hajia Sophia convinced the majority of the Ottoman mosques like the Suleymaniye Mosque complex Istanbul and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, and Muhammad Ali mosque in Egypt.

It means that most of the mosque in Turkey had built with the influence of Hajia Sofia. But they are not looking like the ancient mosque in patterns, definitely gorgeous in design and modern in prospect.

The best example is the Suleymaniye mosque, an impressive and stylish in its structure. The interior part of the mosque is in 194 feet length and 190 feet width that makes it so open to embracing the sunshine.

Also, it’s Islamic design of the round and semi-round dome inside the mosque provides another excellence. At the top of the dome, there is a hole to enter the light of the sun. A lot of chandeliers are hanging inside the mosque.

The names of Allah and his prophet have been added to the design of the dome and the pillars. The carpet of the interior part of the mosque is taken from the city of Usak in Turkey and Cairo in Egypt.

The form of the carpet points to the Kaba. There is a special place for women’s prayer on the right. The place of women’s prayer has been surrounded by with impressive background. The wife of the Sultan and other women of the imperial family were used to pray at this place.

In front of the Imam’s Member, there is a two-storied house inner side of the mosque. The sultan and the high ranked royal employes used to sit on the top floor, and Sultan’s guards used to sit on the bottom floor.

The Member and Mihrab inside of the mosque were built in a very engaging way. The Mihrab has been carved with the Surah Al-Fathia.

Sulemaniye Complex

Like typical other Ottoman complexes, the Suleymaniye Mosque complex is a complex of various buildings. The mosque also designed as a külliye, which has been installed for both religious and cultural demands.

The Suleymaniye Mosque complex includes a mosque, a Quran school, a hospital, a medical school, a hospice, five madrasas, a public kitchen, and most importantly, the graves of Sultan Süleyman the magnificent and his wife Haseki Hürrem Sultan, and fountains.

Many of the buildings of the Suleymaniye Mosque complex Istanbul are still now in existence. The former imaret is now a famous restaurant. The previous hospital is now a well-known printing factory maintained by the Turkish Army.


There are separate tombs of Sultan Suleiman I and his wife Hurrem Sultan (Roxelana) in the back of the qibla wall of the mosque. The octagonal mausoleum of Hurrem Sultan is in the year of her death in 1558.

With Iznik tiles, the sixteen-sided interior of the tomb has been decorated. The greater octagonal mausoleum of Suleiman the Magnificent covers his death year, 1556. But it was fully completed until the next year.

Furthermore, the Mausoleums houses the monuments of his daughter Mihrimah Sultan and those of two following sultans: Suleiman II and Ahmed II.

Visiting the Suleymaniye Mosque

The mosque opens daily between 09:00-18:00. But it closes in prayer times. The best attractive tourist spot is the tomb of the Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent and his favorite wife Hurrem Sultan, which is next to the mosque!

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