Istanbul is the capital of a secular state, Turkey, which changed recently its name to Türkiye internationally. Despite its secular tradition, the Ottoman history and the country’s Muslim culture have bequeathed it an incredible heritage in the form of mosques. In this article you will find our top ten mosques in Istanbul, to offer the best information for those who love architecture, culture and real local vibe.
Most of them are of beautiful architecture and look impressive in strategic locations in the city. Many mosques are on hills and they are visible from afar. At the same time, from many of them you have panoramic views of the city and the Bosphorus.
How the Istanbul mosques are?
The architecture, in many cases in the Ottoman or Turkish neoclassical style, is usually impressive. Similarly, the interior decoration is delicate, with bright but harmonious colors. The most modern tend to function as authentic agoras full of life, being a meeting place for families and groups, integrating modern cultural uses such as libraries, exhibition spaces and even restaurants.
Since Mustafa Kemal, or Ataturk (Father of the Turks), founded the Republic of Turkey as a secular and modern state inspired by Western powers, the resistance of some sectors of civil society and some political parties has kept the flame of Islam alive. linked to Turkish politics. President Erdogan is the last link in a process of re-Islamization of Turkish society. In rural areas and among the Kurdish population, Islam has always been very present. However, in Istanbul, it seemed more like an exotic item from the past. At least compared to the current moment.
The Islamization of Istanbul
My first visit to Istanbul was about ten years ago. Most of the women were uncovered, in tight clothing, some wearing headscarves over which they sported stylishly fashionable sunglasses. Shisha bars were to be seen in the streets and beer could be consumed in practically any restaurant in the city. Now, street fashion is much more in line with that of a country where Islam is the center of culture. Beer is mostly only available in tourist areas.
The Byzantine mosaics in the Church of Chora and Hagia Sophia are being restored despite the fact that no one seems to be in a great hurry to restore them. However, in Istanbul there are endless mosques, very much alive, open to all kinds of public for free. Take the occasion, visit them!
Top ten mosques in Istanbul
The Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque in Istanbul is one of the most iconic sites in Turkey. It is a stunning example of Ottoman architecture and Islamic art, and it stands as a testament to the city’s rich history. The mosque started to work in 1616 during Sultan Ahmed I period. It is known for its six minarets, its blue Iznik tiles, and its majestic dome.
Currently, the interior is closed for renovation. Unfortunately, too many things are in renovation at the same time this 2023 in Istanbul. In normal circumstances, visitors can freely explore the interior of the mosque to admire its intricate designs. If you are muslim you can just take part in one of the daily prayers held inside. Even just from outside, with its grandeur and beauty, The Blue Mosque is an unforgettable experience for any traveler to Istanbul.
Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is one of the most iconic and awe-inspiring structures in the world. It is a symbol of both religious and cultural heritage, having served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral, a Roman Catholic cathedral. Ataturk turned it into a museum in 1935 to emphasize the laic character of the new republic but Erdogan turned it back to be a mosque again in 2020. Located in the heart of Istanbul, it has been an important part of Turkish history for over 1500 years.
This structure has been witness to many historical events throughout its long life, from the coronations of Byzantine emperors to Ottoman sultans, to military invasions and more. It also contains some of the most exquisite Islamic art and architecture in existence today. Unfortunately, the upper floor mosaics are not visible anymore, since they are officially under renovation. Hagia Sophia Istanbul stands as a testament to the power of faith and culture, making it one of the most visited tourist destinations in Turkey. Good news is that currently there is free entrance.
Yeni Cami Mosque
Yeni Cami Mosque, also the New Mosque, is a historic mosque in the opposite side of the Galata Bridge in Eminönü, Istanbul. The mosque is a building of Sultan Ahmet I period. The works started in 1597 and it is one of the most impressive mosques in Istanbul. The architecture of the Yeni Cami is a blend of Ottoman, Byzantine, and Baroque styles. It has a large central dome, four smaller domes, and two tall minarets. The mosque’s interior is decorated with beautiful floral tilework, calligraphy, and intricate carvings.
The mosque has undergone several renovations and restorations over the years, but it still remains a popular religious and tourist destination in Istanbul. Visitors can explore the mosque’s interior and take in its beautiful architecture and stunning artwork.
The location of the mosque cannot be better. We visited after a walk around the Sultanahmet area when we arrived at the Bosphorus. The views from it to the famous estuary and Galata Bridge and the tower on the other side are simply one more must-do in Istanbul.
The Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. Built by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century, this grand mosque stands as a testament to Ottoman architecture and design. Its four minarets, intricate tile work, and massive dome make it a sight to behold. Visitors can explore its many courtyards, gardens, and fountains while admiring its grandeur.
The Suleymaniye Mosque is a must-see for anyone visiting Istanbul, offering a unique glimpse into the city’s history and culture. It is outside the limits of the tourist area so you can understand what a real funcioning mosque looks like. It is incredibly big, symmetric and perfect, either architecture and social working wise. Its location is the perfect view point on Galata quartier. Only for that would be worth visiting. In addition it has a very beautiful visitable cemetery and mausoleum next to the mosque building.
Nalli Mescid is a small mosque located in the historic district of Eminönü, Istanbul. It was built during the Ottoman period in the 17th century and has a distinctive architectural style with its square-shaped base and dome. The mosque is named after the person who commissioned its construction, Nalli İbrahim Efendi, who was a high-ranking official in the Ottoman court. The interior of the mosque features intricate tile work and calligraphy, and it is used for daily prayers by local residents.
Wandering around the golden horn in Istanbul you may casually find this mosque. You probably will stop to take a look since the reddish building is cute, small and very iconic on a trafficked street down to the Bosphorus. Nalli Mescid Mosque is a significant historical and cultural landmark in Istanbul, reminding visitors of the city’s Ottoman past and Islamic heritage. It is also a popular destination for tourists who are interested in exploring Istanbul’s many mosques and religious sites.
Ortakoy Mosque is one of the most iconic landmarks in Istanbul. Located in the Ortakoy district, this mosque is a stunning example of Ottoman architecture and Islamic art. Built in the 19th century, the Ortakoy Mosque stands out with its large dome and two minarets that can be seen from afar. It is also known for its intricate decorations and colorful tiles that make it a sight to behold.
Ortakoy Mosque became clearly our favorite because of its delicate decoration insides, its location facing the Bosphorus and the spectacular views from the interior to the estuary.
Fatih Mosque is one of the most iconic landmarks in Turkey. Built in 1463 by Sultan Mehmed II, it is a symbol of Ottoman architecture and culture. The mosque is a design of Atik Sinan and features four minarets, three domes and a large courtyard. Inside, visitors can admire its intricate decorations, colorful tiles, and beautiful calligraphy. It is also home to several tombs of important figures from the Ottoman Empire. The Fatih Mosque is a living reminder of Istanbul’s rich cultural heritage and an important place for locals to come together to worship.
Yavuz Sultan Semil Mosque
Yavuz Sultan Semil Mosque is a stunning example of Ottoman architecture and one of the most iconic mosques in the city. Built in 1597 by Yavuz Sultan Selim, this mosque was designed to be a symbol of grandeur and power. The mosque features a large central dome surrounded by four smaller domes and four minarets that reach up to the sky. Inside, visitors can admire the intricate details of its interior design, which includes beautiful tilework, frescoes and calligraphy. As well as being an important religious site for Muslims, Mosque Yavuz Sultan Mosque is also a popular tourist attraction for visitors from all over the world who come to marvel at its beauty and grandeur.
Dolmabahce Mosque is a beautiful and historically significant mosque located in Istanbul, Turkey. It is a work of the 19th century and is one of the most important mosques in the city. The mosque is an iconic symbol of Istanbul’s Ottoman heritage, and it features stunning architecture with intricate details. Dolmabahce Mosque has become a popular tourist destination for visitors from around the world who come to marvel at its grandeur and beauty. Its impressive minarets, domes, courtyards and gardens make it an unforgettable sight that will stay with you for years to come.
Grand Çamlıca Mosque
The Grand Çamlıca Mosque is a stunning religious structure. Built in 2019, the mosque is one of the largest mosques in the world and can accommodate up to 65,000 worshippers. It is an architectural marvel, boasting an impressive dome and four minarets that stand at a height of over 200 feet. The mosque also features intricate patterns on its walls and ceilings on traditional Islamic art. As one of the most iconic landmarks in Istanbul, the Grand Çamlıca Mosque attracts thousands of visitors each year who come to admire its beauty and learn about its history.
This mosque was very surprising to us since it is built as a modern agora. It has a library, a nice restaurant, an exhibition center, a museum and a intergenerational community life that will grow when the metro works are finished.
Enjoy our discounts in Istanbul
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