Discovering the Best Istanbul Mosques: A Journey of Faith and Architecture

Have you ever stopped to think about those big, peaceful buildings in Istanbul that have been around for a really, really long time? Well, guess what? They’re not just regular buildings – they’re like super special places filled with stories of faith and incredible designs. So, let’s take a cool journey together and discover the best mosques in Istanbul!

Imagine Istanbul as this city where people from different parts of the world come together. Now, right in the middle of all the action, there are these amazing mosques. They are not just places to pray; they are like time machines that show us how people here have been doing this prayer thing for a really, really long time.

As we walk around the city, we’ll check out some really famous mosques. There’s one called the Blue Mosque, and it’s kind of like a big, beautiful castle. Then there’s the Suleymaniye Mosque, which sits on the highest hill and feels like it’s looking over the whole city. Each mosque has its own story, like a special movie playing on its walls, and we’re going to find out all about it – the history, the cool designs, and everything!

This blog isn’t just about looking at pictures. It’s like an awesome invitation for you to feel the heart and soul of Istanbul. We’re going to use easy words, cool stories, and lots of pictures to make you feel like you’re right there with us. Whether you’re into cool buildings, stories from the past, or just want to know more about Istanbul, this trip is going to be so much fun.

Table of Contents

Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii)

Capturing the grandeur of Istanbul's Blue Mosque, a masterpiece of Ottoman architecture and historical sanctuary adorned with intricate blue tiles, soaring minarets, and a rich cultural legacy.

Officially known as Sultan Ahmet Camii, the Blue Mosque was constructed between 1609 and 1617 by Sultan Ahmed I. It is also known as the Blue Mosque due to its stunning interior, which is decorated with over 20,000 hand-painted Iznik tiles in mesmerizing shades of blue, green, and purple.

The Blue Mosque is an architectural marvel, with its graceful silhouette dominating the Istanbul skyline. It has six soaring minarets and a cascade of cascading domes. The Blue Mosque is not just a feast for the eyes, it is also a functioning place of worship, welcoming Muslims and non-Muslims alike (during designated times).

Beyond the Blue:

Step inside the Blue Mosque and be awestruck by the dazzling kaleidoscope of light filtering through 260 windows and reflecting off the intricate tile work. Look up to admire the central dome, which is 23.5 meters in diameter, and the four semi-domes surrounding it. The domes create a harmonious symphony of curves.

Explore the spacious prayer hall, which is a sea of plush red carpets illuminated by hundreds of hanging lamps. Wander the serene courtyard, which is lined with traditional Ottoman ablution fountains. The courtyard offers a moment of tranquility amidst the city’s buzz.

A Legacy of Faith and Beauty:

The Blue Mosque stands as a testament to Ottoman architectural prowess and Sultan Ahmed I’s devotion to his faith. It continues to be a cultural and spiritual center, drawing millions of visitors every year. Whether you are a spiritual seeker, an architecture enthusiast, or simply a curious traveler, the Blue Mosque promises an unforgettable experience.

Hagia Sophia Mosque (Ayasofya Camii)

hagia sophia mosque, hagia sophia istanbul turkey, aya sofya mosque, aya sofya cami

Hagia Sophia Mosque (Ayasofya Camii) in Istanbul, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stands as one of the city’s foremost tourist attractions. With a multifaceted history, it has transitioned from an Orthodox church to a mosque and, at one point, served as a museum.


Originally commissioned as a church in the 6th century AD by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, Hagia Sophia held the title of the world’s largest church for nearly a millennium, symbolizing Byzantine power. Following the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, it was transformed into a mosque, undergoing alterations such as the addition of four minarets. In 1934, as part of Turkey’s secularization efforts, it was converted into a museum.


A marvel of Byzantine architecture, Hagia Sophia features a domed structure supported by four semi-domes. The central dome boasts a diameter of 55 meters and a height of 33 meters. The interior is adorned with intricate mosaics depicting religious scenes and figures, while marble columns and capitals, sourced from ancient Rome and Greece, enhance its grandeur.

Religious Significance:

Hagia Sophia holds profound significance for both Muslims and Christians. For Muslims, it is a revered site of spiritual importance, while Christians view it as a symbol of their faith.

Chora Mosque (Kariye Camii)

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The Chora Mosque, also known as the Kariye Camii, stands as a captivating landmark in Istanbul, seamlessly blending history and art. This introduction delves into the intriguing story of this cultural gem.

Originally constructed in the 11th century as the Church of the Holy Savior in Chora, the site served as a Byzantine monastery, becoming a repository of Late Byzantine art and architecture. Post the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, it underwent conversion into a mosque, earning the name Kariye Camii, meaning “Mosque of the Outside.” In 1945, it transformed into a museum, allowing visitors to marvel at its preserved Byzantine mosaics and frescoes. However, in 2020, it underwent re-conversion into a mosque.

Süleymaniye Mosque

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The Süleymaniye Mosque, situated in Istanbul, Turkey, stands as an iconic masterpiece, crafted by the renowned Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan between 1550 and 1557. This architectural gem is revered for its grandeur, historical significance, and stunning views of the city.

Key Features:

  • Location: Perched on the Third Hill of Istanbul, one of the city’s highest points, Süleymaniye Mosque provides breathtaking panoramic views of Istanbul and the Golden Horn. Its strategic position enhances its allure and captivates visitors.
  • Size: The mosque boasts an imposing size, with a central dome towering at 47 meters high. Among the largest mosques in Istanbul, Süleymaniye Mosque’s sheer magnitude contributes to its architectural splendor.
  • Architecture: Designed by the illustrious Mimar Sinan, considered one of the greatest Ottoman architects, the Süleymaniye Mosque is a prime example of Ottoman and Islamic architecture. Its meticulous design and execution underline its significance in architectural history.
  • Decoration: The interior of the mosque is a testament to intricate craftsmanship, adorned with colorful tiles and elaborate mosaics. Beyond its architectural marvel, the mosque serves as the final resting place for Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent and his wife, Hürrem Sultan, adding historical depth to its beauty.

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Acknowledged for its cultural and historical importance, the Süleymaniye Mosque holds the prestigious status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This recognition underscores its role as a global symbol of Ottoman architecture and Islamic history.

New Mosque (Yeni Camii)

The New Mosque (Yeni Camii) is an Ottoman mosque located in the Eminönü district of Istanbul

The New Mosque, or Yeni Camii, stands as an emblematic Ottoman mosque nestled in the heart of Istanbul’s Eminönü district. With a rich history and stunning architecture, it has become a cherished destination for locals and tourists alike.

Key Features:

  • Location: Situated in the bustling Eminönü district, a major transportation hub, the New Mosque is conveniently accessible to visitors, adding to its popularity. Its strategic location enhances its role as a cultural and historical landmark.
  • Size: The mosque presents an imposing structure, featuring a central dome that soars to a height of 34 meters. Among the largest mosques in Istanbul, the New Mosque’s size contributes to its visual grandeur and significance.
  • Architecture: Designed by Davut Ağa, a notable apprentice of the esteemed Mimar Sinan, the New Mosque stands as a classic example of Ottoman architecture. Boasting a central dome and four minarets, it reflects the architectural brilliance of the Ottoman era.
  • Decoration: The interior of the mosque is a feast for the eyes, adorned with vibrant tiles and intricate mosaics. Beyond its architectural splendor, the New Mosque houses the tombs of Saliha Sultan and Tirimüjgan Kadınefendi, adding historical depth to its cultural significance.

Historical Significance: Commissioned by Safiye Sultan and later completed by Turhan Hatice Sultan, the New Mosque’s construction spans from 1597 to 1663. Its history intertwines with the legacy of the Ottoman Empire, serving as a testament to the power and influence of this historical era.

Rüstem Pasha Mosque

The Rüstem Pasha Mosque is an Ottoman mosque located in the Hasırcılar Çarşısı

Nestled in the heart of Istanbul’s Tahtakale neighborhood, near the Spice Bazaar, the Rüstem Pasha Mosque stands as a testament to Ottoman grandeur. Named after the distinguished Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasha, it was crafted by the renowned imperial architect Mimar Sinan and completed around 1563.

  • Location: Situated in the Hasırcılar Çarşısı (Strawmat Weavers Market), the Rüstem Pasha Mosque occupies a vibrant corner of the Fatih district. Its proximity to the Spice Bazaar enhances its appeal, making it a convenient stop for visitors exploring Istanbul’s historical markets.

  • Architecture: Designed with meticulous care by Mimar Sinan, the mosque is a testament to Ottoman architectural brilliance. Though modest in size, its octagonal plan, central dome, and four supporting half-domes showcase a harmonious blend of form and proportion.

  • Decoration: The exterior, constructed from red brick and white stone, is adorned with exquisite Iznik tiles, reflecting the artistry of the period. The interior continues this visual feast, featuring Iznik tiles alongside marble and stucco embellishments, creating an ambiance of opulence and beauty.

Fatih Mosque

The Fatih Mosque, also known as Fatih Sultan Mehmed Camii, stands as an enduring testament to the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. Commissioned by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror and built between 1463 and 1470, this landmark mosque has played a pivotal role in Istanbul’s cultural and religious landscape.

The Fatih Mosque, also known as Fatih Sultan Mehmed Camii, stands as an enduring testament to the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. Commissioned by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror and built between 1463 and 1470, this landmark mosque has played a pivotal role in Istanbul’s cultural and religious landscape.

History and Significance:

  • Construction: Erected shortly after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, the mosque, named after Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, was built between 1463 and 1470. Its creation commemorates the victory and signals the establishment of the new Ottoman capital.

  • Original Grandeur: Once among the largest mosques in the city, the Fatih Mosque served as a multifaceted center, featuring madrasas, a hospital, a soup kitchen, and more. It played a crucial role in the social and religious life of the community.

  • Reconstruction: Devastated by a significant earthquake in 1766, the mosque underwent reconstruction in 1771. While rebuilt, some design modifications were introduced to the architectural layout.

Architectural Features:

  • Design: Exemplifying classical Ottoman architecture, the mosque boasts a central dome accompanied by four smaller domes, four towering minarets, and a spacious courtyard. Its grandeur speaks to the architectural prowess of the Ottoman era.

  • Interior Splendor: The interior is a feast for the senses, adorned with intricate Iznik tiles, calligraphic inscriptions, and stained glass. The majestic mihrab and mimbar, carved from white marble, add to the mosque’s artistic richness.

  • Tomb of Sultan Mehmed: Within the mosque complex lies the tomb of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, adding a profound historical dimension to the site.

Current Status and Impact:

  • Functionality: The Fatih Mosque continues to serve its original purpose as a functioning mosque, open for prayers and welcoming visitors. Guided tours offer insight into its historical and cultural significance.

  • UNESCO Recognition: Acknowledged as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the mosque stands as a living heritage, recognized for its cultural and historical importance.

  • Tourist Attraction: Welcoming tourists from around the world, the Fatih Mosque provides a captivating window into Ottoman history and architectural magnificence. Its status as a popular tourist destination underscores its enduring impact.

Ortaköy Mosque (Büyük Mecidiye Camii)

Nestled along the picturesque Bosphorus in Istanbul, the Ortaköy Mosque, also known as Büyük Mecidiye Camii, stands as a testament to the evolving cultural and political landscape of the Ottoman Empire. Built between 1853 and 1856 by Sultan Abdülmecid I, it is celebrated as a prominent example of Ottoman architecture, uniquely infused with Neo-Baroque influences.


  • Foundation: Constructed on the grounds of an earlier 18th-century mosque, Ortaköy Mosque was commissioned by Sultan Abdülmecid I. The purpose was to create a mosque that mirrored the changing dynamics of the Ottoman Empire.

  • Architectural Vision: Designed by the accomplished Armenian architect Nikoğos Balyan, responsible for the design of Dolmabahçe Palace, the mosque’s architecture bears the influence of European Neo-Baroque trends that were in vogue during the 19th century.


  • Design Elements: Ortaköy Mosque presents a single-domed structure flanked by two minarets. The exterior, crafted from white marble, is adorned with intricate carvings, reflecting the melding of Ottoman and European design sensibilities.

  • Interior Splendor: The spacious interior is illuminated by large windows offering panoramic views of the Bosphorus. Iznik tiles, calligraphic inscriptions, and stained glass further embellish the interior, creating a harmonious blend of aesthetics.


  • Location: Situated in the Ortaköy neighborhood, the mosque graces the shores of the Bosphorus, providing a stunning backdrop for worshippers and visitors alike.

  • Size: With dimensions of 32 meters in width and 36 meters in length, Ortaköy Mosque stands as an elegant and well-proportioned architectural marvel.

  • Religious Significance: Functioning as an active mosque, Ortaköy welcomes worshipers, offering a serene space for prayer and reflection.

  • Cultural and Tourism Significance: Recognized as one of Istanbul’s pivotal Ottoman architectural landmarks, Ortaköy Mosque attracts tourists and locals alike. Its popularity extends beyond architectural admiration, as it serves as a backdrop for weddings and various celebrations.

Eyüp Sultan Mosque

1 + Eyüp Sultan Mosque is a mosque complex located in the Eyüp district of Istanbul

The Eyüp Sultan Mosque, nestled in the Eyüp district of Istanbul, Turkey, stands as a revered symbol of Islamic heritage and a testament to the deep historical roots of the Ottoman Empire.

History and Significance:

  • Namesake: Named after Ebu Eyyub al-Ansari, a companion and trusted friend of Prophet Muhammad, believed to have passed away during the first Arab siege of Constantinople in the 670s.

  • Construction: The mosque complex, or külliye, was commissioned by Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in 1458, a mere five years after the conquest of Constantinople. The inspiration behind the mosque’s construction is tied to a dream of Mehmed II’s teacher, Akşemseddin, envisioning a mosque at the burial site of al-Ayyub al-Ansari.

  • Components: The extensive mosque complex includes the mosque itself, a tomb for al-Ansari, an Islamic school (medrese), a hospital, and a soup kitchen, reflecting the holistic nature of Ottoman architectural planning.

Architectural Features:

  • Design: The mosque, an imposing structure, features a central dome and four minarets, capturing the grandeur and architectural finesse characteristic of Ottoman mosque design.

  • Interior Splendor: Adorned with Iznik tiles and intricate calligraphy, the interior of Eyüp Sultan Mosque is a visual feast, providing a tranquil space for worship and reflection.

Historical Context:

  • Origin Story: Constructed at the burial site of al-Ayyub al-Ansari, the mosque complex holds historical significance, intertwining the conquest of Constantinople and the reverence for the companions of Prophet Muhammad.

  • Rapid Construction: The swift construction of the mosque complex in 1458, following the discovery of al-Ansari’s tomb, exemplifies the immediate response to the visionary dream of Akşemseddin.

Arab Mosque

Arap Mosque: A Piece of History in Istanbul's Galata

Perched atop a hill in Istanbul’s Galata district, the Arap Mosque emerges as a captivating relic, narrating tales of Istanbul’s intricate history. Originally the Church of St. Paul or St. Dominic, this distinguished structure stands as the lone surviving Gothic church in Istanbul, predating the Ottoman conquest of 1453.

A Contested History:

  • Origins: Arap Mosque’s history is shrouded in two narratives. One proposes its construction in 717 as the city’s first mosque by Mesleme bin Abdülmelik, an Arab commander. The other, widely accepted, places its creation in 1325 by Dominican friars dedicated to Saints Paul and Dominic, with its conversion to a mosque following the Ottoman conquest.

  • Transformation: The mosque’s evolution from a church to a mosque embodies Istanbul’s historical and religious shifts, reflecting the ebb and flow of cultural influences.

Gothic Splendor:

  • Architectural Features: Arap Mosque’s distinctive square plan and pointed spire, reminiscent of Gothic architecture, defy the conventional Ottoman mosque design. Two minarets, echoing the Gothic style with tapering spires, contribute to its unique charm.

  • Interior Marvels: Stepping inside, visitors encounter the hallmarks of Gothic architecture – intricately carved stone walls and columns, a graceful mihrab, and an ornate minbar. The fusion of Gothic elements with Islamic design creates a harmonious blend.

An Enduring Legacy:

  • Cultural Tapestry: Beyond its role as a functioning mosque, Arap Mosque weaves into Istanbul’s cultural tapestry, standing as a testament to the city’s pre-Ottoman history.

  • Survival as a Gem: Its survival as a pre-Ottoman architectural gem accentuates Istanbul’s diverse narrative, resonating with the echoes of centuries past while remaining relevant in the contemporary context.

Yıldız Hamidiye Mosque

Yıldız Hamidiye Mosque is an Ottoman imperial mosque located in the Yıldız neighborhood of Beşiktaş district in Istanbul, Turkey, on the way to Yıldız Palace. The mosque was commissioned by the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II, and constructed between 1884 and 1886. The mosque was built on a rectangular plan and has one minaret. The architecture of the mosque is a combination of Neo-Gothic style and classical Ottoman motifs.


The Yıldız Hamidiye Mosque was built after Abdul Hamid II moved his court to the Yıldız Palace in 1876. The mosque was built to serve as a place of worship for the sultan and his court. The mosque was designed by the Armenian architect Sarkis Balyan, who was also responsible for the design of many other important Ottoman buildings, including the Dolmabahçe Palace and the Beylerbeyi Palace.


The Yıldız Hamidiye Mosque is a rectangular building with a central dome. The dome is supported by four pillars. The mosque has one minaret, which is located on the right side of the building. The exterior of the mosque is made of red brick and white stone. The façade is decorated with pointed arches and other Gothic motifs. The interior of the mosque is decorated with Iznik tiles, calligraphy, and stained glass. The mihrab and minbar are made of marble.

Nuruosmaniye Mosque

Nuruosmaniye Mosque: An Ottoman Jewel Bathed in Light

Nestled amidst Istanbul’s bustling streets, the Nuruosmaniye Mosque rises as a majestic testament to Ottoman artistry. Built between 1748 and 1755, this architectural marvel blends Baroque elegance with traditional Ottoman elements, creating a truly unique masterpiece.

Born from Light:

Commissioned by Sultan Mahmud I and completed by his successor Osman III, the mosque’s name, “Nuruosmaniye,” translates to “Light of Osman.” This aptly reflects the abundance of windows adorning its facade, bathing the interior in a warm, inviting glow.

A Symphony of Stone and Sky:

Standing tall on a rectangular base, the Nuruosmaniye Mosque boasts a single, awe-inspiring dome. Soaring 43 meters above the prayer hall, this majestic dome symbolizes divine grandeur and offers breathtaking views of the city. Four slender minarets pierce the sky, their balconies delicately adorned with intricate Baroque flourishes.

Stepping into a Baroque Wonderland:

Inside, prepare to be captivated by a symphony of light and color. Walls shimmer with a mosaic of hand-painted Iznik tiles, their vibrant hues dancing in the sunbeams. The mihrab, a prayer niche symbolizing the direction of Mecca, is carved from gleaming white marble, while the minbar, the pulpit from which sermons are delivered, echoes its elegance.

Gazing upwards, your eyes meet the grand chandelier, a glittering masterpiece brought from France in the early 19th century. Its cascading crystals fill the cavernous space with a dazzling spectacle of light and reflection.

Çamlıca Mosque

Çamlıca Mosque is the largest mosque in Turkey and one of the largest mosques in the world

Çamlıca Mosque is the largest mosque in Turkey and one of the largest mosques in the world. It is located in the Üsküdar district of Istanbul, Turkey. The mosque was completed and opened in 2019.


The construction of the Çamlıca Mosque was first proposed in 2009 by the then-mayor of Üsküdar, Mustafa Kara. The project was approved by the Turkish government in 2013. The mosque was designed by two female architects, Bahar Mızrak and Hayriye Gül Totu.


The Çamlıca Mosque is a large and imposing structure. It has a central dome that is 72 meters high and 34 meters in diameter. The dome is supported by four minarets that are each 107.1 meters high. The mosque can accommodate up to 63,000 worshippers.

The mosque is built in a traditional Ottoman architectural style. The exterior of the mosque is made of white marble and blue Iznik tiles. The interior of the mosque is decorated with calligraphy, stained glass, and chandeliers.

Mihrimah Sultan Mosque

Perched on the Asian shores of Istanbul, Mihrimah Sultan Mosque stands as a testament to both love and architectural brilliance. Built between 1543 and 1548 by the legendary Mimar Sinan, this mosque whispers tales of a princess and her father’s affection.

Love Concretized:

More than just a place of worship, Mihrimah Sultan Mosque embodies a father’s devotion. Commissioned by none other than Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, it celebrates the births of his beloved daughter Mihrimah’s two daughters. Every stone, every curve, breathes a silent ode to his paternal love.

Ode to Ottoman Elegance:

Step into the embrace of classic Ottoman architecture. The mosque follows a rectangular plan, crowned by a majestic dome soaring 43 meters above the prayer hall. Four slender minarets pierce the sky, their graceful silhouettes mirroring the Bosphorus waves.

A Dazzling Interior:

Inside, prepare to be mesmerized by a symphony of light and color. Walls adorned with vibrant Iznik tiles come alive in the sunbeams, creating a kaleidoscope of patterns. The mihrab, a prayer niche pointing towards Mecca, gleams with polished marble, while the exquisite minbar echoes its elegance.