June 14th, 2014
The Suleyman Mosque was built on the order of sultan Suleyman the Magnificent and constructed by the great Ottoman architect Sinan. The construction work began in 1550 and the mosque was finished in 1557.
The mosque is modeled in part on the style of a Byzantine basilica, particularly the Hagia Sophia, which was perhaps a conscious move on the part of the sultan to create a continuity and a symbolic connection with the city's past.
The Mosque of Suleyman has four minarets, a number only allowable to mosques endowed by a sultan (princes and princesses could construct two minarets; others only one). The minarets have a total of 10 galleries which by tradition indicates that Suleiman I was the 10th Ottoman sultan.
As with other imperial mosques in Istanbul, the Suleiman Mosque was designed as a complex with adjacent structures to service both religious and cultural needs. The original complex consisted of the mosque itself, a hospital, primary school, public baths (hamam),four Qur'an schools (medrese), a specialized school for the learning of hadith, a medical college, and a public kitchen, which served food to the poor. I thought that this was a wonderful function of a church in meeting the needs of its people.
Here, men use the washing station outside of the mosque to prepare for prayer.
As we did visiting the Blue Mosque, we observed proper dress, removing our shoes and covering our heads. This is Fred with our guide, Senem. I was embarrassed when I realized that I had not gotten more pictures of our lovely guide. Senem was wonderful….sharing her life and her faith, as well as her knowledge of the sights of Istanbul. She was a real jewel…….
Inside, the Mosque of Suleyman is simply breathtaking in its expanse. “Süleyman—and his genius architect, Sinan—attempted to rival the spaciousness of Hagia Sophia by hiding the massive buttresses that support the dome, incorporating the buttresses into the walls. Although not as large as the Hagia Sophia, the Mosque of Suleyman exceeds it in feelings of light and openness.”
As we entered the Suleiman Mosque, we were struck by how different this interior was from the Blue Mosque.
There were fewer people visiting at this time, and everything about this mosque seemed to breath simplicity.
The interior decoration is subtle, with very restrained use of Iznik tiles.
Stained glass provided natural light and beauty.
Our visits to the Mosques left us with a real feeling of connectedness with other religions. While Turkey is predominately Muslim (95 percent), it is a secular state, meaning that the country of Turkey does not enforce religious law and that people are free to worship as they like. This religious tolerance is a longstanding tradition that the Turkish people are proud of. We, as American tourists and Christians were treated with respect, and we tried to observe and respect the Islamic traditions (though we were not expected to heed the ‘call to prayer’ or even pause our activities at prayer times.)
We are all, at our core, people who recognize the wonder and majesty of a creator God, or a creative force in the universe. And we want similar things……freedom, prosperity, and the right to live in peace.