The captivating city of Istanbul is dotted with ornate mosques. Their domes and minarets lend an exotic yet calming quality to a bustling city.
On our recent trip to Istanbul, I was shocked when our local guide told us that there were more than 4,000 mosques in Istanbul. The city has been home to Muslim communities for centuries, and mosques have been an important part of the cityscape for just as long.
Many of the mosques of Istanbul are quite old, with some dating back to the 16th century. The oldest mosque in Istanbul is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, better known as the Blue Mosque, which was built in the early 1600s and is currently under renovation.
Today, mosques continue to play an important role in the lives of Muslims in Istanbul. They are not only places of worship but also serve as community centers and gathering places for social and cultural events.
As there are so many beautiful architecture and religious histories to enjoy, choosing just a few can be challenging. To help you choose the best mosques in Istanbul, we have narrowed it down to just a handful for you below.
Hagia Sophia Mosque In Istanbul
One of the best mosques to visit without question! So much history!
The Hagia Sophia Mosque, also known as the Aya Sofya, is one of Istanbul’s most iconic and well-known buildings. It was initially built as a Christian cathedral in the 6th century AD. Still, it was converted into a mosque after the city fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 when they added the minarets.
From 1935 to 2020, Hagia Sofia was a museum before being converted into a mosque once again. It is currently one of the most popular tourist destinations in Istanbul. The Hagia Sophia mosque is renowned for its massive size and impressive architecture. It is one of Turkiye’s largest and most beautiful buildings ever constructed.
It was here that Mehmet II declared himself Sultan after defeating Constantinople in 1453. And it was here that Ataturk proclaimed Turkey to be a secular republic in 1931. If you’re interested in learning more about this extraordinary building, be sure to visit the Hagia Sophia Mosque when you’re in Istanbul! Entry is free, of course, but be warned the lines are HUGE.
Sultan Ahmed Mosque – Blue Mosque Of Istanbul
Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque, is a historic mosque located in Istanbul, Turkey. This mosque was built in 1616 and is one of the oldest mosques in the city. The Blue Mosque is another one of the best Mosques in Istanbul.
It was built in the early 1600s during the reign of Sultan Ahmed I. The mosque is well-known for its blue tile work, which gives it its name. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque has a large central dome, six minarets, and eight secondary domes. The interior of the mosque is decorated with more than 20,000 blue tiles.
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is one of Istanbul’s most popular tourist attractions. It receives millions of visitors each year from all over the world. The main prayer hall can accommodate up to 10,000 people.
Kariye Camii – Chora Mosque
The Kariye Camii, also known as the Chora Mosque, is a Byzantine-era mosque in Istanbul. The mosque is famed for its beautiful mosaics and frescoes, which date back to the 14th century. The Kariye Camii is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions and is considered by many to be one of the finest examples of Byzantine art.
Yeni Cami – New Mosque
The Yeni Cami Mosque, also known as the New Mosque, is located in the Eminönü district of Istanbul. It was built between 1597 and 1663 during the reign of Sultan Murad III.
The New Mosque is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Istanbul and is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. The Yeni Cami Mosque is considered one of the finest examples of Ottoman architecture.
Mimar Sinan, the chief architect of the Ottoman Empire, designed the Yeni Cami mosque. The mosque is situated on a high platform overlooking the Golden Horn. It has two minarets and a large central dome with smaller domes surrounding it. The mosque’s interior is decorated with Iznik tiles and features a grand chandelier.
The Yeni Cami Mosque is open to visitors year-round, and entrance is free. Visitors can explore the mosque at their own pace or take a guided tour.
The Fatih Mosque is a beautiful and historic landmark located in the middle of the historical peninsula of Istanbul. The mosque was commissioned in 1463 by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II and took seven years to complete.
It is one of the most important mosques in the city and contains several other structures within its complex, including madrasas, a library, a hospice, and tombs. The cemetery at the Fatih Mosque in Istanbul contains four important tombs, including the tomb of Mehmed the Conqueror.
The courtyard of the Fatih Mosque Complex is one of the largest mosque patios, so important funeral ceremonies are held there. Also, there is the largest street market in Istanbul, Fatih Pazarı, held on Wednesdays.
The Fatih Mosque is a beautiful example of Ottoman architecture and is definitely worth a visit adding to your list of the best mosques to visit in Istanbul.
Mosque Of Nuruosmaniye
The Mosque of Nuruosmaniye is one of the most iconic landmarks in Istanbul. It’s a beautiful example of Ottoman architecture, and it’s also one of the largest mosques in the city. Built in the 18th century, the mosque is named after Sultan Mahmud I’s son, Nuruosman.
It’s a popular spot for tourists and locals alike; it is located close to the Grand Bazaar and is very easy to find. The Mosque Of Nuruosmaniye is open to visitors daily, and guided tours are available.
Şehzade Mosque- Prince’s Mosque
Şehzade Mosque is one of the most iconic and popular mosques in Istanbul. It was built by Süleyman the Magnificent in memory of his beloved son, Prince Mehmed, who died at a young age.
This Istanbul mosque was built in 1548 and took seven years to complete, and along with many of the mosques in Istanbul, it is one of the finest examples of Ottoman architecture.
The mosque has stunning city views and is known for its beautiful architecture. Şehzade Mosque has four minarets and a large central dome, while the inside is decorated with beautiful tiles and calligraphy.
Çamlıca Mosque is one of the most iconic landmarks in Istanbul, and it’s no surprise that it’s also one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. The mosque is situated on a hilltop in the Üsküdar district and offers sweeping views of the Bosphorus strait and the city skyline. But there’s more to Çamlıca Mosque than just its stunning location. Here are some facts and details about this incredible place of worship:
- The mosque was designed by Turkish architect Hayati Tabanlioğlu and completed in 1987
- This new mosque is currently the largest in Istanbul and, indeed, in Turkey
- It has six minarets and can accommodate more than 60,000 worshippers at any one time
- The main prayer hall is decorated with beautiful Islamic calligraphy and intricate tilework.
- There is also a library, a conference hall, and an exhibition space on site
- Çamlıca Mosque is open to visitors daily from 9 am to 5 pm (except during prayer times).
Kılıç Ali Pasha Mosque
Kılıç Ali Pasha Mosque is one of Istanbul’s most iconic and well-known mosques. It was built in the early 16th century by the order of Kılıç Ali Pasha, a powerful Ottoman admiral and Grand Vizier.
The mosque is located in the Beyazit district of Istanbul and is easily recognizable due to its massive size and beautiful architecture. The mosque is constructed from stone and brick, and its main dome is nearly 50 meters high. The exterior of the mosque is decorated with intricate patterns and calligraphy.
This Istanbul mosque is open to visitors daily except during prayer times, where you can enjoy the large prayer hall adorned with chandeliers and stained glass windows.
Mosque Of Süleymaniye
The Mosque of Süleymaniye is one of the most iconic buildings in Istanbul. Situated on a hill overlooking the Golden Horn, the distinguished Ottoman architect Sinan built the mosque in the 16th century. It is considered one of his finest works and one of the largest and most complex mosques in Istanbul. It was named after Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, who commissioned its construction.
The main prayer hall can accommodate up to 4,000 worshippers and is decorated with beautiful İznik tiles and stained glass windows. Several smaller prayer rooms, a library, a hospital, and a school are also on site.
Visitors are welcome to enter the Mosque of Süleymaniye and explore its grounds. However, as it is still an active place of worship, please respect those praying and refrain from taking photos inside the prayer halls.
Eyüp Sultan Mosque
The Eyüp Sultan Mosque was built in the Eyüp district in the early 16th century. The mosque is named after Eyüp Sultan, who was a close companion of the Prophet Muhammad.
The mosque complex includes several other buildings, including a tomb containing Eyüp Sultan’s remains, a school, a library, and a hospital.
The complex is situated in a beautiful park, and visitors can enjoy views of the city from the mosque’s minarets. The mosque is open to visitors all year round, and there are guided tours available in several languages.
Ortaköy Mosque – Büyük Mecidiye Camii
Ortaköy Mosque – Büyük Mecidiye Camii is one of the most historical and significant mosques in Istanbul. Sultan Mahmud, I ordered its construction, and it was completed in 1754 and was designed by architect Mehmet Tahir Ağa. It is notable for its size, grandeur, and location overlooking the Bosphorus strait. The Ortaköy Mosque features intricate Ottoman architecture, with its large size, tall minarets, and ornate exterior.
The mosque is situated in the Ortaköy district, which was once a cosmopolitan area with a diverse population of Muslims, Christians, and Jews. The Ortaköy Mosque is one of the largest mosques in Istanbul, with a capacity of over 10,000 worshippers. The mosque complex includes a library, a school, and an ablution fountain.
Rüstem Paşa Mosque
Rüstem Paşa Mosque is one of the most iconic mosques in Istanbul. It’s located in the heart of the city, and it’s easily recognizable with its twin minarets and large central dome.
The mosque was built in the 16th century by the famed Ottoman architect Sinan, and it’s named after Rüstem Pasha, who was a grand vizier to Süleyman the Magnificent. Visitors to the mosque can’t help but be impressed by its size and grandeur. The main prayer hall is huge, and it’s adorned with beautiful Iznik tiles and an intricate marble mihrab. The courtyard is also lovely, with a fountain at its center.
You can take a guided tour or explore on your own. Either way, you’ll come away with a greater appreciation for this architectural masterpiece in Istanbul.
Mihrimah Sultan Mosque
The Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, located in Üsküdar on the Asian side of Istanbul, is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. The mosque was commissioned by Mihrimah Sultan, the daughter of Süleyman the Magnificent, and was designed by the great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan.
Construction of the mosque began in 1562 and was completed in 1565. The mosque is built on a high platform with four massive iwan halls that open onto a central courtyard. The main prayer hall is on the second floor and is flanked by two smaller prayer halls.
This impressive mosque in Istanbul is decorated with the famous Iznik tiles and has a unique exterior facade adorned with calligraphy.
Sancaklar Mosque is one of the most unique and exciting mosques in Istanbul. Built in the 1990s, it is entirely underground, with only its prayer hall and minaret visible from the surface. This makes it a truly unique place of worship and an unforgettable sight to behold.
The mosque was built on the site of an old Byzantine church, which was destroyed during the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul. The architect took inspiration from both traditional Islamic architecture and modernist design, creating a genuinely original building. The main prayer hall is decorated with beautiful Islamic calligraphy and stunning stained glass windows, while the minaret is a sleek, modernistic structure.
Despite its unusual design, Sancaklar Mosque is a fully functioning place of worship and is open to all Muslims. It is a popular spot for tourists to visit because of its uniqueness and beautiful setting. If you’re ever in Istanbul, be sure to check out this one-of-a-kind mosque in Istanbul!
Şakirin Mosque, located in Istanbul, is one of the world’s most beautiful and unique mosques. The mosque was built in 2010, and its design was inspired by both traditional Islamic architecture and modern Turkish architecture.
The mosque’s exterior is covered in white marble, and the interior is decorated with beautiful Islamic calligraphy and mosaics. One of the most striking features of the mosque is its massive dome, which is adorned with a beautiful chandelier. The Şakirin Mosque is truly a sight to behold, and it’s one of the must-see mosques in Istanbul.
Yıldız Hamidiye Mosque
Yıldız Hamidiye Mosque is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Istanbul. Located in the Beyazit district, the mosque was built in 1877 by Sultan Abdülaziz.
The mosque is named after Hamidullah Bey, who was the governor of Istanbul at the time. The mosque has a unique design, with four minarets and a large central dome. The interior of the mosque is decorated with intricate patterns and calligraphy. Visitors to the mosque can also enjoy views of the city from its rooftop terrace.
What You Need To Know About Visiting Mosques In Istanbul
There are a few things to remember when visiting a mosque; after all, it is a place of worship, so it is important to respect the mosque and those who worship there.
- Remove your shoes before entering
- Being quiet and not taking photos without permission
- Dress modestly, covering your arms and legs. Women may need to cover their heads with a scarf
- It is important to be aware of your own culture and customs. Muslims come from all over the world, and there may be slight variations in how they practice their religion. For example, some mosques will have separate areas for men and women to pray. As a visitor, it is important to respect these customs
- Mosques are closed to tourists during prayer times
There are five prayer times for Muslims throughout the day when you can not enter the mosque unless you are praying. Muslim prayer times are Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, and Isha, and you will hear the call to prayer ring through the city of Istanbul.
- The first prayer, Fajr, is performed before dawn
- Dhuhr is performed at noon
- Asr is the afternoon prayer and is performed in the late afternoon
- Maghrib is the evening prayer and is performed just after sunset
- Isha is the final prayer of the day and is performed at night
By following these simple guidelines, you can ensure that your visit is enjoyable and respectful.
Now that you have an idea of the best mosques in Istanbul, tell us which of these Istanbul mosques will you visit.