Saturday, October 5, 2013

Vefa and Sülemaniye Mosque Photo Trek

Photo Trek Istanbul is a blog to share some insights about the routes around İstanbul to take great photos while you enjoy the city. Today we are giong to walk from the Vefa district to the Süleymaniye  Mosque. This trek will take about three hours and will end at a tea shop with great views of the golden horn.

Süleymaniye Mosque.

This first trek starts at the Vefa District  where mostly aristocratic families, and members close to the Sultan’s Palace had their private houses and residences.   At this very districte you can find the Bozasıcı Vefa a little shop where the original Boza veberage is created.

This very special Turkish beverage, which carries with it a very long history of its own, in the year 1870, when Hadji Sadik Bey, the great, great grandfather of the family, immigrated from Albania to Istanbul, and settled in Vefa.

The man that runs the store is very kind and encourages you to take the best photos of him and his store.
Don't loose the great opportunity to taste the flavors of BOZA:

"Boza is a fermented bulgur refreshment with addition of water and sugar. It contains vitamin A and four types of vitamin B as well as vitamins C and E. During fermentation, Boza produces lactic acid. This type of acid which is rarely found in food products helps digestion and also recommended for its milk-producing property for pregnant women and for sportsman as a valuable
source of vitamin. It is very effective in the cholera treatment." Boza store

Once you leave the Vefa caddesi you continue to walk towards the Süleymaniye Mosque thru the backstreets where you can find cemeteries and buildings that are tearing apart.


The great thing about othoman cemeteries is that you always find beautiful greave stones with arabic letters and figures such as the one below:

"These stones bear neither names nor dates of birth or death. Most times, it’s not even very clear that they are stones meant to mark gravesites. Many people walk right by these stones, assuming they are just ordinary stones sticking out of the earth." ESRA KESKİN


İf you continue to walk to the Süleymaniye camii you will find little shops of tipical turkish souvenirs:

This is a view of old buildings that are being tearing apart to be replace by new ones.  Here are some of the examples of things you can find on our way to the Süleymaniye mosque.


No matter where you are there is always a tea shop where you can enjoy the flavors of turkish tea. This are the leftovers or ordinary workers after having a morning tea break before conginuing with their labors.  Some of them are bread makers some others pottery makers you can find all kinds of shops in the backstreets of Süleymaniye mosque.


The peştemal, a gift from Anatolian culture to the world, is defined as a rectangular woven cloth used for covering the body in traditional Turkish baths. The peshtemal tradition, which has stood the test of time and survives today with its delicate texture, high absorbency, fast drying and lightness, comes together with the Buldans' concept of production and design which brings authenticity to a universal platform. 


"A nazar (Turkish: nazar boncuğu Old Turkic: gökçe munçuk) is an eye-shaped amulet believed to protect against the evil eye ("evil eye", from nazar and "amulet" from boncuğu). The word "nazar" is derived from the Arabic نظر, "sight" or "seeing". In Turkish, it is called Munçuk." Wikipedia

The 'munçuk' is seen in every sight of İstanbul and in different objects weather ornaments, keyrings, necklace, etc but the must popular one is the one you can hang.


"Shisha or sheesha may refer to: A hookah (hukkā or huqqah[1][2]), (هوكة), also known as a waterpipe,[3] narghile, arghila, or qalyān, or Shisha (which refers specifically to Egyptian hookahs) is a single- or multi-stemmed instrument for vaporizing and smoking flavored tobacco called shisha in which the vapor or smoke is passed through a water basin (often glass-based) before inhalation." Wikipidia 

There are tons of them and you can find them in different colors, decorating in so many different ways.   This picture was taken in one of the shops, the tender didn't mind to let me in and just take a shot of them.

POMEGRANATE juice is very popular in Istanbul. You can enjoy a glass of this delicious fruit while you find your way to the top of the mosque.


Mimar Sinan's Thumb  (c. 1489/1490 – July 17, 1588 was the chief Ottoman architect (Turkish: "Mimar") and civil engineer for sultans Suleiman the Magnificent, Selim II, and Murad III. He was responsible for the construction of more than three hundred major structures and other more modest projects, such as his Islamic primary schools (sibyan mektebs). His apprentices would later design the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul, Stari Most in Mostar and help design the Taj Mahal in the Mughal Empire.  His masterpiece is the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, although his most famous work is the Suleiman Mosque in Istanbul."  Wikipedia

This is his grave, the bigger the thurband is the more importance of the person who is buried.  As you can see his thumb has a special place besides the Süleymaniye mosque and this thurband may not be as big as one of a Sultan but his is defenetly a man loved by his country and their people.

His thumb is decorated with the same arquitectural stones and figures of the great Süleymaniye mosque.  This beautiful star you wıll see over and over again as you walk inside the mosque.



"The Süleymaniye Mosque, built on the order of Sultan Süleyman (Süleyman the Magnificent), "was fortunate to be able to draw on the talents of the architectural genius of Mimar Sinan" (481 Traditions and Encounters: Brief Global History). The construction work began in 1550 and the mosque was finished in 1558.

Süleymaniye Mosque

This "vast religious complex called the Süleymaniye...blended Islamic and Byzantine architectural elements. It combines tall, slender minarets with large domed buildings supported by half domes in the style of the Byzantine church Hagia Sophia (which the Ottomans converted into the mosque of Aya Sofya)" (481 Traditions and Encounters: Brief Global History)." Wikipedia



We finally arrive to this beautiful mosque, which is my favorite mosque, You can always find the ottoman cemetery in a big mosque and this is found just besides the great building.

"In the garden behind the main mosque there are two mausoleums (türbe) including the tombs of sultan Suleiman I, his wife Roxelana (Haseki Hürrem), his daughter Mihrimah, his mother Dilaşub Saliha and his sister Asiye. The sultans Suleiman II, Ahmed II and Safiye (died in 1777), the daughter of Mustafa II, are also buried here."  Wikipedia


Suleyman I Mausoleum.

 Tombs of sultan Suleiman I, his wife Roxelana, his daughter Mihrimah

ABDEST  (Ablution)

Turkish: abdest  is the Islamic procedure for washing parts of the body using water, typically in preparation for formal prayers (salah). 

The ablution is absolutley beautiful. Thıs is one of the nicest shots of the trek.

"As with other imperial mosques in Istanbul, the Süleymaniye Mosque was designed as a külliye, or complex with adjacent structures to service both religious and cultural needs. The original complex consisted of the mosque itself, a hospital (darüşşifa), primary school, public baths (hamam), a Caravanserai, four Qur'an schools (medrese), a specialized school for the learning of hadith, a medical college, and a public kitchen (imaret) which served food to the poor. Many of these structures are still in existence, and the former imaret is now a noted restaurant. The former hospital is now a printing factory owned by the Turkish Army." Wikipedia



İnternal Patio.


İnterıor of the fountain at Sülemaniye Mosque



This are the garden's that sorround the mosque where you can seat and enjoy the views or read more about the story and the importance of this architectural beauty.

You can find little cats all over the place, they are feed by the people who work in the mosque. This little one was found besides the lavatories. 



"The interior of the mosque is almost a square, 59 meters in length and 58 meters in width, forming a single vast space. The dome is flanked by semi-domes, and to the north and south arches with tympana-filled windows, supported by enormous porphyry monoliths. Sinan decided to make a radical architectural innovation to mask the huge north-south buttresses needed to support these central piers. He incorporated the buttresses into the walls of the building, with half projecting inside and half projecting outside, and then hid the projections by building colonnaded galleries. There is a single gallery inside the structure, and a two-story gallery outside." Wikipedia

 The interior decoration is subtle, with very restrained use of Iznik tiles. The white marble mihrab and mimbar are also simple in design, and woodwork is restrained, with simple designs in ivory and mother of pearl." Wikipedia

The main dome

"The main dome is 53 meters high and has a diameter of 27.5 meters. At the time it was built, the dome was the highest in the Ottoman Empire, when measured from sea level, but still lower from its base and smaller in diameter than that of Hagia Sophia." Wikipedia


Tho finish the photo trek we can enjoy a lunch in one of the caffes nearby the Süleymaniye mosque with great views to the golden horn.

 Views of the Golden Horn

This one is my last shot while I was leaving Eminonu ferry. The light was great so this last shot was a gift to my eyes.

I absolutely love this picture!

Soreya Reyes

Twitter:  @street_photos_

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