As you explore the captivating city of Istanbul, the striking silhouette of the Süleymaniye Mosque is hard to miss. A masterpiece of Ottoman architecture, this magnificent mosque is a must-visit destination for any traveler. This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to make the most of your visit to the Süleymaniye Mosque.

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The Grandeur of Süleymaniye Mosque: A Historical Overview

The Süleymaniye Mosque, an iconic symbol of Istanbul’s skyline, was built between 1550 and 1557 by the renowned Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. Commissioned by Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, the mosque was designed to be the largest and most impressive of its time, reflecting the height of the Ottoman Empire’s power and influence.

The mosque’s construction was a massive undertaking, requiring the labor of over 10,000 workers and craftsmen. Mimar Sinan utilized innovative architectural techniques and drew inspiration from both Byzantine and Islamic architectural styles to create a harmonious and elegant structure.

The Süleymaniye Mosque was not just a place of worship, but also an extensive complex (külliye) that housed a variety of social and educational institutions. These included a madrasa (Islamic theological school), a hospital, a library, a soup kitchen for the poor, and several bathhouses. This integration of religious, educational, and charitable functions in one complex demonstrated the progressive spirit of the Ottoman Empire.

Unfortunately, the mosque suffered significant damage during a series of disasters, including the Great Fire of 1660 and an earthquake in 1766. The complex was subsequently restored multiple times, with the most extensive restoration taking place in the mid-20th century. During this period, the mosque was closed to the public for over a decade while painstaking efforts were made to return the structure to its original splendor.

Süleymaniye Mosque Today

Today, the Süleymaniye Mosque stands as a testament to the remarkable architectural skill of Mimar Sinan and the grandeur of the Ottoman Empire. It continues to serve as a place of worship for Istanbul’s Muslim community while also attracting millions of tourists each year who come to admire its stunning design and learn about its rich history.

Discover the Süleymaniye Mosque with Guided Tours

The Architectural Marvels of the Süleymaniye Mosque

The Süleymaniye Mosque showcases an exceptional blend of Islamic and Byzantine architectural elements. Its main dome soars to a height of 50 meters and is supported by two large arches on the north and south sides. These arches are held up by four colossal red granite columns.

Minarets and Courtyard

The mosque is adorned with four minarets, each featuring a unique number of balconies. The number of balconies symbolizes Suleiman as the fourth sultan after the Conquest of Constantinople and the tenth sultan of the Ottoman Empire. The forecourt, surrounded by 24 pillars and 28 domes, is an impressive sight to behold.

Interior Design and Decorations

Upon entering the mosque, you’ll be struck by its simplicity and vastness. The walls are adorned with exquisite Iznik faïence, and the stunning stained-glass windows fill the interior with light. The mosque’s acoustics are remarkably sharp, and the beautiful calligraphy from the Koran adds to the spiritual atmosphere.

The Süleymaniye Complex: More Than Just a Mosque

The Süleymaniye Mosque is part of a larger complex, which includes a hospital, madrasa, library, soup kitchen, shelter for the poor, hamam, and shops. The library, in particular, houses the world’s largest and most important collection of Islamic manuscripts.

Royal Mausoleums and Tombs

The complex also features a cemetery with the mausoleums of Sultan Suleiman, his wife Hürrem, his daughter Mihrimah, and the two Ottoman rulers Ahmet II and Suleiman II. Mimar Sinan’s mausoleum is located in the north-western corner of the complex.

Free Walking Tour of the Süleymaniye Mosque with the Istanbul Tourist Pass

Explore Istanbul with ease and save money with the Istanbul Tourist Pass, which includes free access to over 80 attraction, museums, landmarks, and activities. Pass grants the free walking tour of the stunning Süleymaniye Mosque, led by knowledgeable local guides who will share the history and architectural features of this iconic landmark. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to experience the beauty of the Süleymaniye Mosque and other top attractions in Istanbul with the Istanbul Tourist Pass.

Planning Your Visit: Practical Tips and Tours

Visiting Hours and Tips

The Süleymaniye Mosque is open daily, except during prayer times. Don’t forget to check prayers times.

Visiting hours are from 8:30 to 16:45. Opens on Friday at 13:30.

Admission is free.

Don’t forget to dress modestly.

How to Get to the Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul

Getting to the Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul is fairly easy, as it is located in the historical district of the city and is well-connected by public transport. Here are some ways to get there:

  • By Metro: You can take the M2 line and get off at the Vezneciler station. From there, it’s just a 10-15 minute walk to the mosque.
  • By Tram: If you’re coming from the Sultanahmet area, you can take the T1 line and get off at the Beyazıt-Kapalıçarşı station. From there, it’s about a 10-15 minute walk to the mosque.
  • By Bus: There are several bus lines that stop near the mosque, including the 38, 81B, and 87. Check with your hotel or a local tourist information center for the best bus route to take.

Comparing Blue Mosque and Süleymaniye Mosque

Architectural Style

Both the Blue Mosque and the Süleymaniye Mosque feature a blend of Byzantine and Islamic architectural styles, but the latter is considered Mimar Sinan’s crowning achievement. The Süleymaniye Mosque showcases Sinan’s innovative techniques, such as the use of a central dome flanked by smaller semi-domes, which created a more spacious and well-lit interior.

Size and Layout

The Süleymaniye Mosque is larger and more imposing than the Blue Mosque, with its massive central dome and four towering minarets. The Blue Mosque, on the other hand, has six minarets, which was a controversial feature at the time of its construction as it equaled the number of minarets at the Kaaba in Mecca.

Interior Decoration

The Blue Mosque gets its name from the over 20,000 handmade blue Iznik tiles that adorn its interior walls. In contrast, the Süleymaniye Mosque features a simpler and more understated interior with a focus on elegant calligraphy and minimal ornamentation.

Complex Functions

While both mosques were built with accompanying külliyes, the Süleymaniye Mosque’s complex is more extensive and multifunctional, housing a madrasa, a hospital, a library, a soup kitchen, and bathhouses. The Blue Mosque’s complex primarily includes a madrasa and a tomb for Sultan Ahmed I.

Exploring the Surroundings

The Süleymaniye Mosque is situated in a vibrant neighborhood that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and local life. As you walk through the winding streets, you’ll come across numerous sites and experiences worth exploring.

Grand Bazaar

A short walk away from the mosque, the Grand Bazaar is a must-visit for those interested in shopping and experiencing Istanbul’s vibrant market scene. With over 4,000 shops, the bazaar offers a wide variety of items, from traditional Turkish carpets and ceramics to spices and jewelry. Read more…

Spice Bazaar

Also known as the Egyptian Bazaar, this market is famous for its selection of exotic spices, teas, dried fruits, and nuts. It’s a great place to immerse yourself in the colors, smells, and flavors of Istanbul. Read more…

Istanbul University

Established in 1453, Istanbul University is one of the oldest universities in the world. The university’s main campus, located near Beyazıt Square, features beautiful gardens and historic buildings that are worth a visit.

The Valens Aqueduct

Built by the Romans in the 4th century, this impressive structure provided water to the city for centuries. The aqueduct is a testament to the engineering prowess of the Roman Empire and is a fascinating site to explore.


In conclusion, visiting the Süleymaniye Mosque is a must for any traveler to Istanbul. This architectural masterpiece, designed by the renowned Mimar Sinan, not only showcases the brilliance of Ottoman architecture but also provides a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the city. While exploring the mosque, make sure to appreciate its stunning interior, learn about its fascinating history, and immerse yourself in the vibrant surroundings. Don’t forget to compare the Süleymaniye Mosque with the equally magnificent Blue Mosque to gain a deeper understanding of the evolution of Ottoman architecture and the nuances that make each of these structures unique. Enjoy your time in Istanbul and cherish the unforgettable memories you will create while discovering these iconic landmarks.

Visitor Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I get to the Süleymaniye Mosque?

A: The mosque is located in the Vefa district. You can reach it on foot from Eminönü Square or Beyazıt Square, or take the tram to Eminönü station and walk for 5 minutes.

Q: Is photography allowed inside the mosque?

A: Yes, photography and flash are allowed inside the mosque.

Q: What is the best time to visit the Süleymaniye Mosque?**

A: The best time to visit the Süleymaniye Mosque is during the non-prayer times, as the mosque is an active place of worship. Morning hours, preferably between 9:00 am and 11:30 am, are a good choice to avoid crowds. Additionally, the mosque is closed to non-worshippers during the five daily prayer times and on Fridays for the noon prayer. Make sure to check the prayer timings in advance.

Q: Is there an entrance fee for the Süleymaniye Mosque?

A: No, there is no entrance fee for the Süleymaniye Mosque. Visitors can enter for free. However, donations are appreciated to help with the maintenance of the mosque.

Q: Is there a dress code for visiting the mosque?

A: Yes, visitors are required to follow a modest dress code when entering the mosque. For men, shorts and sleeveless shirts are not allowed. Women must cover their heads with a scarf, and wear long-sleeved shirts and pants or skirts that cover their legs. If you don’t have appropriate clothing, there are often scarves and long skirts available for use at the entrance of the mosque.

Q: Can I visit the mosque during Ramadan?

A: Yes, the Süleymaniye Mosque remains open to visitors during Ramadan. However, it may be busier during this time, and visitors should be respectful of those who are fasting and praying. It is important to avoid visiting during prayer times, especially during the evenings when the breaking of the fast (iftar) takes place.

Q: Are there guided tours available for the Süleymaniye Mosque?

A: Yes, there are guided tours available for the Süleymaniye Mosque. You can either join a guided tour offered by various tourism companies or hire a licensed local tour guide. Some of these guided tours may also include visits to other nearby attractions, such as the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace.

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