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The Suleymaniye Mosque

The Suleymaniye Mosque

The Suleymaniye Mosque rarely appears in the catalog of tours offered by tourist agencies. No doubt because it is outside the classic places of visitation of Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi etc. which they grouped together. Yet this is one is of the most beautiful mosques in Istanbul. From the top of one of the 7 hills of Constantinople, the mosque overlooks the entire Golden Horn. Suleymaniye Mosque is a Külliye. That is to say a real complex of life that revolved around the mosque, on 70 hectares. It consisted of a Koranic school (or Mederesa), a theological college, a library, a hammam, a restaurant (asevi), a caravanserai for travelers, as well as a hospital, hospice, shops …

The Suleymaniye Mosque
The Suleymaniye Mosque

History of the construction of the Suleymaniye Mosque:

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage since 1985, the construction of the mosque obeys the number 7 rule: the Suleyman The Great Mosque was built between 1550 and 1557, i.e. Its architect SINAN still rests in tomb below the mosque.


It is a mosque of imposing dimensions: 69 meters long and 63 m wide, on an area of ​​4,347 square meters.

  • 138 windows let in the light
  • The main dome, 27 meters in diameter and 48 m high, is supported by 2 half-domes. It has 32 windows. The esplanade of the Soliman Mosque is surrounded by a portico surmounted by 28 domes and supported by 24 ancient columns, in Porphyry, white marble and granite.

In the center, a sadirvan (fountain) in marble. The mosque, with its 4 minarets and 10 balconies, reminds us that Soliman the Magnificent was the 4th Ottoman Sultan after the conquest of Istanbul and the 10th of the Ottoman dynasty.

Unique construction techniques:

The acoustics of the Suleymaniye mosque

Half-domes placed according to the path of the sound as well as hollowed-out cubes of 50 cm located at the base of the half-domes, provide the mosque with perfect acoustics by solving the problem of echo.

Ventilation in the Suleymaniye mosque

The ventilation is done on 3 levels: a first level on 20 cm, almost without drafts for the feet. A second level, between 20 cm and the height of the chandeliers, dissipates odors. The third level, from the chandeliers, directs the smoke from the oil lamps to 2 holes located above the main door. The architect Sinan took the secret of this ventilation technique to his tomb: no written record remains.

Suleymaniye Mosque Drainage System

In the foundations of the mosque Sinan has integrated a network of terracotta pipes that allows drainage from the basement to the Golden Horn. On these pipes, wooden plates provide insulation and thereby a pleasant temperature for the mosque: cool in summer, warmer in winter.

Mosque water filtering

A filtering center in the middle of the courtyard made it possible to make the water drinkable and then redistribute it to all the fountains of the mosque.

An anti-seismic construction

For more than 450 years, the mosque has suffered from numerous earthquakes. To date no cracks are visible and a team of Japanese experts said the mosque could withstand an earthquake greater than 8 on the Richter scale. It is possible to visit the cemetery where several Pashas and notables rest, before admiring the exterior of the tombs of Suleiman and the Sultana Roxolane (better known as Hürrem). To read about other monuments in İstanbul click here.

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