Friday, September 26, 2014

New Mosque - Yeni Camii

Today's photo trek is taking place in Eminönü's waterfront were it stands the Yeni Camii, the new Mosque.  Its imposible not to see it. Is one of the last largest buildings that dominates the water front and it stands next to the Spice Market.  

The new mosque's view from Galata bridge.

The large mosque's name "New Mosque (Yeni Camii)" has nothing to do with time.  It dates back to 1591, which makes it in fact very old.  The work on the mosque was started by Safiye Sultan (1550-1605) at a time when this was a predominantly Jewish neighborhood occupied by tall wooden apartment blocks called Jeweries.  The Jews were relocated to Haskoy on the far side of the Golden Horn, but progress on the mosque was slow because Safiye Sultan lost her power on the death of her son Sultan Mehmed III in 1603. 

Water front of Eminönü .

Like so many buildings in Turkey, the mosque was left incomplete and eventually caught fire.  It was only completed in 1633 bu which time Hatice Turhan Sultan, the mother of Sultan Mehmet IV had taken charge of things.  Her architect Mustafa Aga, completed the work in 1663 using the plants drawn up by the original architect, a pupil of Sinan's called Davud Aga.



The exterior of the mosque itself boasts 66 domes and semi domes in a pyramidal arrangement, as well as two minarets. The main dome measures 36 meters in height, and is supported by four flanking semi-domes. The dome plan of the New Mosque is based on the earlier Şehzade Mosque designed by Mimar Sinan, and on Sedefkar Mehmed Agha's Sultan Ahmed Mosque.

66 Domes and 2 Minarets.

Entrance door from the square.

Doves at the front gate.

As with other imperial mosques in Istanbul, the mosque itself is preceded by a monumental courtyard (avlu) on its west side. The courtyard of the New Mosque is 39 meters on a side, bordered on its inner side by a colonnadedperistyle covered by 24 small domes. 

Ablution fountain.

An elegant şadırvan (ablution fountain) stands in the center, but is only ornamental. The actual ritual purifications are performed with water taps on the south wall of the mosque. The façade of the mosque under the porch is decorated with İznik tiles. Stone blocks supplied from the island of Rhodes were used in the construction of the mosque.

Interior of ablution fountain.

Iznik Tiles decorating the façade of the mosque.

Tiles and calligraphic inscriptions decorate the courtyard walls.  Unusually, the mosque has open galleries on each side of the exterior while the minarets each boast triple balconies which meant that in the days before loudspeakers half dozen muezzins could give the call to prayer at the same time.

Galleries on each side of the mosque.

Minarets with triple balconies.

Domes of side galleries.


Entrance decoration.

Entrance door with nacar incrustation.



The interior of the mosque is square shaped and measures 41 meters on each side.  The central area is defined by four large piers which are the main support for the dome. On the sides and rear of the central area are colonnades of slender marble columns connected by arches in a variety of styles. 

Interior's view from the front entrance.

The dome is 17.5 meters in diameter and has a height of 36 meters. Like many other Ottoman imperial mosques, on the 4 corners where the dome meets the pillars holding it up, are calligraphic plates with the names of the first four khalifahs, Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali.

Main dome and semi domes.

 The interior space is extended with semi-domes along the east-west axis of the building, with smaller domes above each corner of the nave and even smaller domes above the corners of the galleries.

Interior's view from the upper floor.

The interior of the mosque is decorated with blue, green and white İznik tiles, which are considered somewhat inferior in quality to tiles in earlier imperial mosques. The mihrab is decorated with gilded stalactites and the minbar had a conical canopy with slender marble columns.

Mihrab i Mimbar with conical canopy.

Internally the mosque is very elegant, its walls covered with tiles that while not of the finest quality, are nevertheless very pretty, its windows filled with richly colored gained glass.  The mimer (pulpit) and muezzin mahfili (muezzin's pew) are marble, and the kursu (Imam's prayer seat) is of wood inlaid with mother of pearl.   

Main chandelier.

Above the windows verses from the Koran were beautifully inscribed by Mustafa Celebi.  

Verses of the Koran.

View of the back of the mosque.

Carpet decoration.

Upper floor view of the arches.

Side view from the upper floor.

Side Gallery.

Gallerie's window.

Visitors are not only tourists but locals that come for prayers.


The Royal Pavilion (Upper floor)

The northeast corner of the gallery has a gilded screen, behind which members of the imperial court could attend services. This Royal Loge is connected by a long elevated passageway to a Royal Pavilion in the northeast corner of the mosque complex.

The royal pavilion at the New Mosque's northeast corner.

Sultan's royal lodge dome.

Iznik Tiles and carpet decoration.

Sultan's lodge view of the Mihrab and Minbar.

Iznik tiles decoration.

Royal pavilion's window to the Mirhab.

Nacar and mother pearl window's decoration.

Ceiling paints and decoration.

Main chandelier.

Royal pavilion's wall.



As with other imperial mosques in Istanbul, the New 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, primary school, public baths, a türbe, two public fountains and a market. To this complex was added a library during the reign of Sultan Ahmed III.

The large L-shaped market survives today as the Spice Bazaar (also known as the Egyptian Bazaar), a well-known Istanbul tourist attraction.

The mausoleum (türbe) holds the graves of the Valide Sultan Turhan Hatice, her son Mehmed IV as well as five later sultans (Mustafa II, Ahmed II, Mahmud I, Osman III and Murad V) and various members of the court.
Ongoing restoration and maintenance works are implemented by the Turkish General Directorate of Foundations.



The New Mosque's view from the Ferry boat at Eminönü Iskelesi.

View of New  Mosque and Galata Bridge  from a ferry boat. 

The new mosque view from Eminönü's square.

The new mosque's view from the Spice bazar.

I was planning of doing also the Spice Bazar but as I was lucky enough to see the upper floor of the mosque and the royal pavilion I have to leave the spice Bazar for some other time.  It is in restoration so I really hope to see it finished and be able to document it.

As of now, I hope you enjoy the views.

Soreya Reyes

Twitter:  @street_photos_

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Rüstem Paşa Mosque and Tahtakale

Built in 1561 for Rustem Paşa, son in law and grand vizier of Suleyman the Magnificent, the Rustem Pasa Mosque is one of the Mimar Sinan's most widely admired small mosques, and is adorned with wonderful collection of Iznik tiles.  It stands right in the heart of Tahtkale, the tight knit network of market streets that sprawls to the south-west of the Spice Market.  This is a great place to while away a few hours, shopping  for the sort of items desired by locals rather than tourists.

Rustem Paşa from Eminönü

It is easier to spot the Rustem Pasa Mosque from the water that when you are closer to it because it's almost completely buried amid the chaos of surrounding Tahtakale. Unlike most of his mosques Sinan decided to build this one on a raised platform, which mien that you actually approach it form underneath, making its exquisite perfection all the more of a surprise when you finally pop up in front of it. 

Rustem Paşa from Galata Bridge.

Entrance to Rustem Paşa from the Tahtakale street.

The mosque was probably paid by Rustem Pasa's widow Mihrimah, the daughter of the famous Roxelana, in memory of her recently deceased husband. Although it has only one minaret seem relatively insignificant in a city where at least two minarets are de rigueur, this mosque is renowned for its wonderful galleried interior with tiles covering everything from the walls to the mirharb and mimer. Particularly beautiful are the designs of tulips and carnations which make delightful use of the slightly raised coral -red glaze for which Iznik tiles were framed.

Entrance to Rustem Paşa from Mahkeme Sk street.



The mosque was built on a high terrace over a complex of vaulted shops, whose rents were intended to financially support the mosque complex. Narrow, twisting interior flights of steps in the corners give access to a spacious courtyard. The mosque has a double porch with five domed bays, from which projects a deep and low roof supported by a row of columns.

Façade of the porch.

Although the Iznik tiles that line the walls inside are especially beautiful, even the exterior is encased in tiles that you will be able to appreciate if you arrive at a time when the mosque is closed.

Tile depicting the Kaaba in Mecca. 

Façade of the porch.

Cealing chandelier outside of the mosque.


As is the case of Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, the inscription is lacking over the entry of the Rüstem Paşa Mosque. The octagonal fountain of the mosque is placed in a courtyard located on the street. An archway surrounds the high-walled courtyard of the mosque in three directions.

Side entrance for tourists.


The interior

The Rüstem Pasha Mosque is famous for its large quantities of exquisite İznik tiles, set in a very wide variety of beautiful floral and geometric designs, which cover not only the façade of the porch but also the mihrab, minbar, walls, columns and on the façade of the porch outside. These tiles exhibit the early use of a tomato-red color that would become characteristic of İznik pottery. Some of the tiles, particularly those in a large panel under the portico to the left main entrance, are decorated with sage green and dark manganese purple that are characteristic of the earlier 'Damascus ware' coloring scheme. No other mosque in Istanbul makes such a lavish use of these tiles.

Mihrab and Minbar.

The plan of the building is basically that of an octagon inscribed in a rectangle. The main dome rests on four semi-domes; not on the axes but in the diagonals of the building. The arches of the dome spring from four octagonal pillars— two on the north, two on the south— and from piers projecting from the east and west walls. To the north and south are galleries supported by pillars and by small marble columns between them.

Arches of the dome and small marble columns.

Presently, the location of the mosque is in the middle of a congested area. It was built on the former site of Hacı Halil Mescid with a size of 40 meters by 40 meters square. The ceiling of the mosque contains a central dome, the diameter of which is 15.50 meters and is surrounded by full and half-domes that provide support to the central dome.


Central dome.

Rüstem Paşa Mosque suffered damage in a fire in 1660. After the big earthquake of Istanbul in 1776, both the minaret and the dome of the mosque came to the ground.  It was renovated in the reign of the Mustafa II. (1664 –1703), but, during the renovation, the ruined dome and minaret fell short of the reality of the structure of Sinan the Architect.


Right side gallery.

İznik tiles were commonly used in the interior design of the mosque that was situated on the silhouette of the historical peninsula.  They have caused visitors to transform a minor image into a great artwork

 Right side gallery.

Marbel Archades.

Main chandelier.

Tile inscrptions from the Quoran.

Women's gallery.

Ceiling of women's gallery.


İnscritions from the Quoran.


Iznik Tiles

Turkey has a long history of tile-making dating back to c. 7000 BC, but the most valued of all its tiles were those produced in the small town of Iznik in the 16th century after the conquest of Tabiz in 1514 resulted in the resettlement there of many highly skilled Persian tile makers.

It was in Iznik that ceramicists firs worked out how to make the rare and valuable coral-red gel called Armenian bole that was so useful for depicting tulips and carnations, but by the 17th Century the torch was already passing to Kuthya.

İznik tiles from Rüstem Paşa İnterior Mosque.

Carnetion  Iznik Tiles

İznik tiles from Rüstem Paşa İnterior Mosque.

İznik tiles from Rüstem Paşa İnterior Mosque.

İznik tiles from Rüstem Paşa İnterior Mosque.

İznik tiles from Rüstem Paşa Exterior Mosque.

İznik tiles from Rüstem Paşa Exterior Mosque.

I hope you enjoyed the views!

Soreya Reyes

Twitter:  @street_photos_