The illuminated mosques of Istanbul, gleaming at night like jewels of a crown are sure to catch your attention. This section outlines the historical mosques of Istanbul still standing from 15th century and open to worship. Muslims perform prayers (namaz) five times a day -morning, noon, afternoon, evening and night – either at mosques or at home. However the Friday noon prayer, called Cuma namazý, is especially for men and all Muslim men are encouraged to perform the prayer at a mosque. If you would like to visit a mosque, it is best to do so outside of prayer times, so as not to disturb worshippers. All visitors are asked to remove their shoes and women are expected to cover their heads before entering. Since namaz (prayer) takes place on the ground, the floors are covered with carpets and to walk on the carpets with your shoes on is out of the question. There are shelves at the entrance of the mosques in which to place your shoes.
Basilica of Holy Peace
Hagia Eirene stands on what is thought to be the oldest place of Christian worship in Istanbul. Today it is located within the Topkapi Palace complex, close to the Hagia Sophia.
The cascading domes and six slender minarets of the Sultanahmet Mosque (popularly known as the Blue Mosque) dominate the skyline of Istanbul. In the 17th century, Sultan Ahmet I wished to build an Islamic place of worship to rival the Hagia Sophia, and the mosque named for him is the impressive result. The two great architectural achievements stand next to each other in Istanbul’s main square, and it is up to visitors to decide which is more impressive.
Church of the Holy Wisdom
Aya Sofya Sq.
+90 (212) 522-1750
A former Byzantine church and former Ottoman mosque in Istanbul. Now a museum, Hagia Sophia is universally acknowledged as one of the great buildings of the world. Hagia Sophia was rebuilt in her present form between 532 and 537 under the personal supervision of Emperor Justinian I. It is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture, rich with mosaics and marble pillars and coverings.
The Eyüp Sultan Mosque is the holiest site in Istanbul and one of the most sacred places in the Islamic world.
The Fatih Mosque that stands today has similarities to the classical mosques of the 16th century, with its tall central dome held by semi-domes on all four sides. The decorative painting of the interior reflects the baroque influence on 18th century Ottoman architecture.
Yerebatan Caddesi 13
+90 (212) 522-1259
Yerebatan Sarayi translates as ‘Sunken Palace’. It’s Istanbul’s largest underground cistern and the only one renovated and opened for public viewing. Today Yerebatan Sarayi is a major tourist attraction and offers cool respite from Istanbul’s searing summer heat. Pulsing lights, water dripping from the ceiling and eerie music played over strategically placed speakers add an air of mystery to the place.