Visiting a mosque is certainly the most enjoyable free activity of all things to do in Istanbul. In this article, discover the 12 most beautiful and impressive mosques in istanbul. We will also list tips for your visits as well as historical and practical information about which public transport in Istanbul you should use to get there.
We start with the most mythical mosque in Istanbul, but before that, how should you dress to enter a mosque in Istanbul?
How to dress to enter a mosque in Istanbul?
The dress code for entering a mosque in Turkey is as follows:
As a general rule: To enter a mosque, your hair, shoulders and legs must be covered.
Legs and arms: Pants and t-shirts covering up to the elbows are accepted.
Veil: Light head scarves are accepted. You do not have to wear a veil strictly. You can simply place it on your head.
The official rule is that all skin between the navel and the knees must be covered. After that, I still advise you to wear a t-shirt. Long shorts and t-shirts accepted.
If you are not dressed appropriately for the occasion, they will lend you free long skirts at the entrance, but I still advise you to have your own headgear for hygiene reasons…
1. The Sainte-Sophie Mosque
The Hagia Sophia Mosque, otherwise known as “The Divine Wisdom“, has served as a church and museum throughout history as well. It is a patriarchal cathedral commissioned by Emperor Justinian between 532 and 537, to rival the Temple of Solomon. It is in this huge cathedral that the Eastern Roman emperors were crowned. In accordance with the Ottoman habits and customs, with the conquest of Istanbul in 1453, it was transformed into a mosque. Converted into a museum in 1935, it became a mosque again in 2020.
Located in the Fatih district of Istanbul, Sultanahmet Square, it is opposite the Blue Mosque. It is one of the best toutiest-attraction mosques in istanbul.
2. The Blue Mosque Sultanahmet
The Sultanahmet Mosque, known as the Blue Mosque, a color due to the 21,000 Iznik tiles that line its walls, was built under the order of Sultan Ahmet I between 1609 and 1616 by Mehmet Aga, known as Sedefkâr, a disciple of the architect Sinan. It is today the largest complex of Turkey with mausoleum, hammam and hospital, and has its place in the UNESCO. Its 6 minarets that attract millions of local and foreign tourists every year were worth the seventh minaret of the Kaaba!
The Blue Mosque is located in Sultanahmet Square opposite Hagia Sophia. It is one of the best toutiest-attraction mosques in istanbul .
3. Suleymaniye Mosque
The Suleymaniye Mosque is the work of the famous architect Sinan, under the orders of Suleyman the Magnificent (1551-1558), and is a magnificent reflection of Ottoman architecture. The complex includes hammams, madrasas, libraries, hospitals and soup kitchens. The imperial mosque whose dome is 53 meters high is flanked by 4 minarets whose sizes vary slightly, which gives it a characteristic.
Suleymaniye Mosque is located in the Suleymaniye district of Istanbul, not far from the Grand Bazaar. It is easily accessible after a short walk when you get off at the Laleli University stop of the Kabatas – Bagcilar streetcar line.
4. The Mecidiye Mosque in Ortaköy
The Ortaköy Mosque, whose main characteristic is the Baroque architectural style, which was in full swing in the French and Italian palaces in the 18th century, was completed in 1854 under Abdulmecid. The exterior was given a unique appearance by using carved stones as ornaments. The interior, which is illuminated on four sides by daylight, is dominated by the floral motifs and marble-plated surfaces of the mihrab. The building flanked by two minarets offers a superb view of the Istanbul Strait.
Ortaköy Mosque is easily accessible by public transportation from Beşiktaş.
5. The Eyüpsultan Mosque in Eyüp
Eyüp Sultan reflects perfectly the Ottoman architecture in Istanbul. It dates back to 1458, taking its final form in 1800. It is located on the banks of the Golden Horn, near the tomb of Eyup Sultan, one of the first companions of Muhammad, hence the name of the mosque which explains why thousands of Muslims come here to seek peace. One is amazed by the magnificent tiles which decorate the interior walls. In the garden, the old plane tree is surrounded by fountains.
The mosque can be reached by bus from the Ayvansaray-Eyüp stop, or by streetcar.
6. Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in Üsküdar
It is the architect Sinan, who in 1548 built the mosque of Mihrimah and one of the amazing mosques in istanbul, in honor of the daughter of Suleiman the Magnificent, whom he was madly in love say some. He endowed it with elegance and simplicity in the image of the daughter of a sultan. There are no lavish decorations in the interior, whose beauty lies only in the harmony of proportions. Of the complex that included many outbuildings, only the madrasa and the Sibyan school remain today.
The mosque in Üsküdar, on the Asian side of Istanbul, on the bank of the Bosphorus, is accessible by the Marmaray.
7. The Mosque of Fatih
The mosque of Fatih is in the list of mosques in Istanbul. Fatih is the first imperial mosque of the Ottoman Empire after the conquest of Istanbul. The huge complex of 1470 includes 16 madrasas, hammam, kitchen, library, guest house and hospital as well as 2 minarets. In addition, there are 409 tombstones inside. The central dome rests on four columns called elephant feet and is surrounded by a half-dome. Overall, it has a structural characteristic that combines classical architecture with baroque architecture.
To get to the mosque by public transport you can take the bus from Eminonu and Yavuz Selim stops. From Taksim, take line 87.
8. Rustem Pasha Mosque in Eminönü
The Rüstem Pasha Mosque was built by Mihrimah, daughter of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, for her late husband, the Grand Vizier Rüstem in 1961. The Mosque, which looks simple from the outside, captivates its visitors, giving them the impression of being in a tile museum. The dome is supported by four elephant legs and columns with arches embellish the place of worship. It is one of the most attractive mosques in Istanbul.
Not far from the Egyptian Bazaar in Istanbul, it is surrounded by shops and you have to look for the entrance. It is easy to get there by public transportation such as bus, streetcar, and metro.
9. The Beyazit Mosque in the Grand Bazaar
The Beyazit Mosque, named after its sponsor Beyazit II, was part of a complex serving the needs of the community. Located in the center of the historical peninsula, it is one of the oldest imperial mosques in Istanbul with its original form. Surrounded by 24 domes on 20 pillars, the inner courtyard is paved with marble and red porphyry. The main dome, about 17 meters in diameter, rests on four large elephant legs and is supported by 2 half-domes.
Public transportation makes it easy to access: take the streetcar line and get off at the Beyazit or Çemberlitaş stop.
10. The mosque of Taksim
The Taksim Mosque is a mosque complex located in Taksim Square, Istanbul. It was designed by two Turkish architects in the art deco style, and the three-story mosque can accommodate up to 3,000 worshippers at a time.
Construction began on February 17, 2017 and took four years. So it is one of the new mosques in Istanbul, located in the heart of the modern district of Istanbul.
To get there, you just have to reach Taksim Square with the Metro (Taksim stop).