The truly staggering size of the Süleymaniye Camii (Suleymaniye Mosque) is one of its most distinctive features – built by the legendary architect, Mimar Sinan, it is known as one of his masterpieces, and his largest design. It is not just the awe-inspiring size that is impressive (the central dome stands 47m high), but also the elegantly decorated interior. The sense of space and light is emphasized in the supporting semi-domes to the northwest and southeast and the monumental arched spaces to the southwest and northeast.
Interior of Suleymaniye Mosque (Süleymaniye Camii) of Istanbul
It took eight years to build and was completed in 1557, a tribute to Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent. The beautiful Suleymaniye Mosque is a fitting tribute to both the sultan and the architect. Suleyman was the longest-reigning sultan of the Ottoman Empire (1520-1566) and is regarded by some as a “Second Solomon” because of the harmony and justice under his rule. You can book our "Magnificent Ottomans Tour" to get more information on Süleymaniye Mosque and visit it with a professional tour guide.
The history of the Suleymaniye Mosque hasn’t always been easy. It was ravaged by fire in 1660, and when it was restored by architect, Fossati (under the command of Sultan Mehmet IV) it was changed into a more baroque style, damaging the original design. During World War I, the courtyard was used as a weapons depot, which led to another fire when some of the munitions ignited. It wasn’t fully restored until 1956.
The main dome of Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul
Also in the Sülemaniye Külliyesi (mosque complex), there is a medrese (religious school), soup kitchen, hospital, caravanserai, library, bazaar and several tombs. Some of these facilities are still in use today. Notable are the tombs of Süleyman the Magnificent and his wife, Haseki Hürrem, (also known as Roxelana). Both are impressive; inlaid with precious metals, stones and stained glass. The tomb of the architect, Mimar Sinan, is also located here, in the north-western corner.
Sulemaniye Mosque complex library section (Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi)
As it is located in the historic old peninsula, it is close to a number of other sights including the Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Rustem Pasha Mosque, and New Mosque. It is even in walking distance to the Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque.
The easiest way is to take a tram to Beyazit-Grand Bazaar or Laleli-University, from where it is a short walk.
The mosque is open daily between 9am and 6pm, but closed during prayer times. There is no Suleymaniye ticket price, but donations are welcomed.