Suleiman Mosque, the largest in Ottoman Istanbul (Süleymaniye)

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The Suleiman Mosque (Süleymaniye) was the largest in Istanbul until 2019 when a new mosque (built by Erdogan) surpasses it in size.

The Imperial Mosque of Suleiman was the masterpiece made under the most glorious sultanate (in terms of expansion and apogee) of the Ottoman Empire. I’m talking about Süleyman I (aka the Magnificent, because it’s not that you can go with little nicknames of sultans, although in this case in several aspects very deserved).

(Istanbul’s largest mosque for almost five centuries) (*) Images Matthias Callone


Why do you have to see this mosque?

The Süleymaniye mosque is one of the most beautiful in its exterior and interior, is one of the largest and most visited in Istanbul. And although it is famous and visited it is not as “overcrowded” as the Blue Mosque or the Hagia Sophia Museum (at least when I was able to visit it on my 30-day trip through Istanbul).

Like many other imperial mosques, more than a simple temple are a complex of buildings with different functions. Therefore we will see that the mosque has in addition to huge courtyards, several annex buildings (which were hospitals, Koranic schools, public kitchen that served food to the poor). What is most surprising about this mosque are its dimensions, but also the balance between simplicity and decorative beauty.


In the four corners of the courtyard there are minarets. Mosques with four minarets were only allowed in that number to constructions of the sultan, so every time you see a mosque with four minarets you will be in front of an imperial mosque (the exception is the Blue Mosque which has six and when built generated a controversy, subject for another post). At the same time, there are more features that allow data to be extracted: for example the serifs (or galleries) of the minarets indicate that the sultan was the “x” number of the dynasty. In this case the minarets have ten serifs, corresponding to the tenth sultan of the Ottoman dynasty.

Brief history of the Suleiman Mosque.

Every splendid building in a former imperial capital tells a story. First we must situate ourselves: we are in the sultanate of

The construction of the

On the outside you can also visit the cemetery, mausoleums and the back of the mosque with the mirador space.


Upon entering the mosque (if we are not Muslim believers you can still visit and access the interior to the part that is indicated for visiting tourists). The curiosity of this construction lies in the structure, to which the architect gives a constructive solution that simulates the support of the enormous space.

Moreover, the decoration we see today is the result of a restoration that restores the mosque to its original appearance after changes and various reconstructions (the building was affected by earthquakes, fires and all kinds of damage over centuries). There is a very remarkable use of decorative tiles and without overloading the space: a subtle beauty in every detail.

A viewpoint to Istanbul

Another of the attractions of this mosque are the views in one of its rear courtyards. It is to my understanding and as I told them in

Timetables and how to get there

It is open every day from 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. Although you can walk the outdoors for a while longer. The visit is free as it is not an attractive museum but an active place of worship. It is very close to the main ferry stations in the Eminönü district or the Galata bridge. And in my case I simply walked after getting off at the tram station “Eminönü”. It will be about ten minutes walking but for me in Istanbul everything is a walk that is worthwhile.

Traslados en Estambul > By the way, to move in Istanbul you have this option of private transfers, or you can even use the tourist bus of Istanbul.

Is it worth a visit?

Definitely yes (and a huge yes). It is historical, it is monumental, it is a precious example of Islamic religious art. And tourists visit it but it also has an air of authenticity in terms of its cult because it is not so crowded. Walking its interiors and exteriors is a comforting experience to appreciate the beauty and splendor of the period in which it was built. In addition, it has the plus of the views of the city from one of its patios that are beautiful and no less impressive.

Don’t forget you have the detail of my visits in Istanbul in this post:

(*) All images belong to Matías Callone

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