Located in Galata, Arab Mosque (Arap Camii) is the only mosque in Istanbul that was converted from a Roman Catholic Church. Originally it was built in the fourteenth century and its name was the Church of San Domenico (Saint Dominic), since it was commissioned by Dominican monks. There are tens of Byzantine Orthodox churches in Istanbul that were converted into mosque such as Hagia Sophia, Chora Museum, and Zeyrek Mosque; however, Arab Mosque is the only Roman Catholic church converted into a mosque in the city of Istanbul.
Before the construction of the church there was a small chapel built during the Latin Occupation of Constantinople (1204 - 1261) and dedicated to San Paolo (Saint Paul). In the first half of the fourteenth century, small chapel was expanded and became a church with the name of the Church of San Domenico. The church functioned until the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453. After the conquest of Constantinople, the church was converted into a mosque and its name was Galata Mosque (Galata Camii).
However, at the end of the fifteenth century Ottoman sultan Bayezid II settled Andalusian Arabs -who were deported from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition- around the mosque. Therefore, the mosque began to known as “Arab Mosque”. After the Great Galata Fire in 1731, the mosque was partly damaged and during the restoration of the mosque some Gothic architectural elements were replaced with Ottoman architectural elements. Accordingly, Arab Mosque is a unique structure containing both Italian Gothic and Ottoman architectural features. Today, the structure is in good condition and functioning as a mosque.
Gothic style bell tower of the Arab Mosque is functioning as a mosque minaret.
During the restorations in the first half of the twentieth century, several Genoese tombstones were found underneath the structure, and now they are exhibited at the Istanbul Archaeological Museums.
Located in Galata, the easiest way to get to the Arab Mosque is to take a tram and get off at Karaköy Tram Station. Arab Mosque is only ten minutes walking distance from Karaköy Tram Station onto northwest direction. You can also take Tunnel (Tünel) from Şişhane and get off at Karaköy station. Arab Mosque is only five minutes walking distance from Karaköy Tünel.
The Arab Mosque is open from 9am-6pm every day, but closed at prayer times. There is no ticket price of the mosque, but donations are welcome.