The Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent is not only Istanbul’s largest mosque, but it has also been voted as one of the city’s most striking landmarks. You can expect to this this incredible mosque feature in several of our Egypt and Turkey tours.
While most travel publications and most western tour operators refer to this architectural masterpiece as the Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent, the vast majority of Turks know it as the Suleymaniya Mosque.
Regardless of what name you favor, it is one of the most important attractions in Turkey that you really don’t want to miss. It well and truly is a sight to behold, which of course is why it’s considered to be one of Istanbul’s most striking landmarks. It is also the city’s biggest mosque. In fact, it is so vast is size, that it qualifies as being one of only a few Ottoman Imperial Mosques.
A Brief History Of The Mosque Complex Suleiman the Magnificent
Construction of the Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent began in 1550 on orders from Sultan Suleiman and was only completed eight years later in 1558. From an architectural point of view, the mosque is a fantastically elaborate blend of Islamic and Byzantine architecture. In fact, it’s this distinguishing quality which has attracted the attention of the world.
A prime example can be seen in the minarets which are unusually tall and slender, and also in the use of domes which are supported by half domes. Many historians actually believe that the architect, Mimar Sinan, was inspired by Hagia Sophia, an ancient Byzantine church that also features large domes supported by smaller half domes.
It is known that Sultan Suleiman, to a certain extent, believed he was a second Solomon, and some design features are reminiscent of the “Dome Of The Rock” which was later built on the site of Solomon’s Temple.
The Partial Destruction Of The Mosque Complex
The Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent was severely damaged by a massive fire in 1660 but was soon restored to its former glory by Sultan Mehmed IV. Disaster struck once again in 1766, but this time it was a major earthquake that caused the main dome to collapse.
Disaster struck for a third time during the First World War. The forecourt was being used for storing ammunition, when another major fire broke out. This time however, the mosque was left as is for several years, before it was eventually restored in 1956.
At Egypt Tours Plus, we try to include as many top attraction as we can in our various Egypt and Turkey tours, including sites such as this mosque. We can also amend any and all of our tours to include this site if you don’t see it featured in your preferred tour itinerary.
A Mosque Of Grandeur
The Sultan wanted a mosque so grand that countless generations would be inspired by its grandeur, and that is exactly what he got. Like most other imperial mosques, it has an immense courtyard, complete with a colonnade supported by pillars crafted from marble; granite and etc.
The Mosque also has four minarets, a feature which was quite rare at the time since only a sultan could commission a mosque with more than two minarets. However, even a sultan couldn’t request more than four minarets.
Another striking feature is the 53 meter height of the central dome with its large diameter of nearly 28 meters. Some historians have speculated that the sultan wanted a complex equal to, or greater than Solomon’s Temple. Justinian who ordered the building of the Hagia Sophia had the same ambition, and on completion of the Hagia Sophia, declared that he was greater than Solomon.
Other historians argue that if the sultan had wanted to, he could have ordered for the mosque to be bigger than it actually is, given that it is smaller than the Hagia Sophia church, which incidentally was converted into a mosque when the Ottoman Turks invaded. Regardless of its size, the complex is fantastically exquisite and certainly worth a visit.
To explore the Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent, along with countless other world famous historical attractions, including underground cisterns; underground cities and long forgotten cave churches, please visit our Egypt and Turkey Tours page now.