Thursday, November 27, 2014

Fatih Mosque - The Conqueror's Mosque

Fatih is thought of as one of Istanbul's most conservative districts. Its focal point is the fortress-like Fatih Mosque, which was built in celebration of the Sultan Mehmed II, the great Ottoman leader who aged 21, wrested control of Constantinople from the Byzantines and was accordingly nicknamed "Fatih" (The Conqueror). 

Fatih Mosque courtyard.

To get there you can take a bus No. 31E, 336E or 38E from Eminonu, or No. 87 or 32 from Taksim.  At first glance it may strike casual visitors as more obsessed with weddings than religion since its main street, Fevzi Pasa Caddesi, is lined with shops selling alarmingly over the top wedding dresses.

Wedding dresses at Fevzi Pasa Caddesi.

The Fatih Mosque was constructed immediately after the conquest of the city in 1453 over the ruins of what had been the enormous church of the Holy Apostles where many of the Byzantine emperors and their families had been buried. It was designed bu an architect called Atik Sinan who should not be confuse with the 16th century genius generally known as Koca Mimar (Architect) Sinan and the sturdy walls surrounding medreses make it look almost as fortified as a castle.

Fatih Mosque complex.

An earthquake in 1766 badly damaged the original mosque, which was reconstructed in baroque style by Mehmed Tahir Aga between 1767 and 1771; of the original building little remains bar the courtier the entrance gateway, the mihrab and the lower parts of the minarets.

Fatih Mosque's entrance gateway.

Since then some parts of the complex have also been torn down although the eight medreses still survive, along with the 18th century Carulah Efendi Library. At one time the complex may have been able to accommodate almost 1,000 students.

20 domes supported on columns. 

One of the more unusual features of the mosque complex is the restored tabhane, or dervish inn, whose 20 domes are supported on columns that may have been taken form the Church of the Holy Apostles.  

Fatih Mehmed's Tomb.

Fatih Mehmed himself is buried in a superb tom to the rear of the mosque where the reverent can always be found reciting passages from the Koran. It was the custom for newly crowned sultans to come here immediately after visiting the mosque at Eyup in the hope that they would soak up some of the Conqueror's greatness for themselves.  Fatih Mehmed's wife Gulbahar Sultan is buried more modestly nearby.

Visitors standing on the walls of Fatih Mosque.

As with other imperial mosques in Istanbul, the Fatih Mosque was designed as a kulliye, or complex with adjacent structures to service both religious and cultural needs.



The first Fatih mosque had one central dome supported by a single semi-dome of the same diameter on each side and suspended on four arches, its dome was 26 meter in diameter. The second mosque which was built (1771) by Sultan Mustafa III after the 1766 earthquake, was built on a square plan. It has one central dome supported by four semi-domes.

Interior's view of Fatih Mosque.

The present interior of the Fatih Mosque is essentially a copy of earlier designs invented by Sinan re-used repeatedly by himself and his successors throughout Istanbul (this technique is emulative of the Hagia Sophia). 

Marble columns and main chandelier.

The 26 meter diameter center dome is supported by four semi-domes on each axis supported by four large marble columns. There are two minarets each with twin galleries. 

Main Dome.

The calligraphy within the mosque and the mimbar exhibit a Baroque influence, but the white tiles of inferior quality are a poor comparison with the İznik tiled splendor of mosques such as the Rüstem Pasha Mosque. 

Semi domes.

Upper level view of the semi domes.

Mimar and Mirhab of Fatih Mosque.

Mihrab (prayer niche) and side of minbar (pulpit) of Fatih Mosque.  The mihrab dates from the original construction.

Mimar and Mirhab of Fatih Mosque.


"Fatih Mosque imposes a feeling of physical, as well as religious, humility on the faithful" Constantitnople- City of the World's desire by  Phillip Mansek, 1995.

Side view of the Mosque.

Sultan's prayer area.

Main chandelier.

Upper view of side gallery.

Main entrance/exit door's view.



 The courtyard, main entrance portal and lower portions of the minarets remain from the original construction, with the remainder consisting of the 1771 Baroque reconstruction.

View of the courtyard of Fatih Mosque with ablution fountain at center.

Courtyard Fountain.

Visitors sitting on halls of the courtyard.

Tiles adorning the doors to the Mosque.

Abolution fountain.

On their way to the Market.



To see real religious conservatism in action you need to exit the Fatih Mosque on the north side and explore the district of Carsamba.

Fatih neighborhood.

Every Wednesday there is a market where you can find fruits, vegetables, fish, and different cloths and supplies for the Turkish families.

Wednesday Fatih Street Market.

Vendor outside the mosque.

Fruits and vegetables.


Fish vendor.


Fevzi Pasa Caddesi restaurant's view of Fatih Mosque.

I couldn't get a complete picture of the mosque since there are still many construction around it but I hope to at least give you and idea of what Fatih Mosque is all about.   

As of now I hope you enjoy the views!

Soreya Reyes

Twitter:  @street_photos_

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Yildiz Park and Pavilions.

Yildiz park is a wonderful place to while away a few hours. Many of the trees and shrubs are labeled to help you identify them, and you'll see squirrels foraging for nuts, and hear green parakeets screeching overhead.

Walls sorrownding the Park and connecting to Cirgan Palace.

The best way to reach the Park is to take a bus along the shore road from Kabatas (the end of the tram line from Sultanahmet) or up Barbaros Bulvari from Besiktas.  The Yildiz site falls into two separate parts.  The palace buildings are separated from the park and Chalet by a high wall and it's not possible to pass directly between the two sections; visitors are forced to divert all the way around the exterior of the park.  The main imperial complex and the museums are best accessed from Barbaros Bulvari in Besiktas, just after the Conrad Hotel, while the Yildiz Chalet and the surrounding park are accesible from the main entrance across the road from Cirgan Palace. 

Malta Pavilion.

The park contains two beautiful pavilions, both deigned by the ubiquitous Balyan brothers.  The finer of the two, the lovely Malta Pavilion was built during the reign of Sultan Abdulaziz and became a prision for Sultan Murad V ad his mother after Murad was deposed in 1876.  It now houses a restaurant with stunning painted ceilings and great views over the Bosphorus. 

View's of the Bosphorus from Malta Pavilion upper floor.

The Sultan's Last Retreat

First there was the Esky Saray (Old Palace) on the Third Hill, near Beyazit Square.  Then came Topkapi Sarayi at Sarayburnu (Seraglio Point).  Then there was Domabahce Palace on the Bosphorus waterfront.   Finally the Ottoman sultans withdrew to the Yildiz (star) Palace as their empire gradually slipped away from them. 

Today Yildiz Park acts as one of the lungs of the city, a vast open space adorned with mature trees and shrubs, and dotted with historic buildings in an otherwise very built-up area.

Yildiz Park.

The wooded slopes of Besiktas Hill were left untouched well into Ottoman times when Sultan Ahmed I finally had a jasbahce (royal park) laid out around a small hunting lodge here. Covering 500,000 square meters of hillside, what is now Yildiz Park was originally laid out in the wary 19th century for Mirhrisah Sultan, the mother of Sultan Selim III, on land that originally formed the grades of the Cirgan Palace.

Yildiz Park park with picnic areas.

 Over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries the park was slowly developed until it consisted of a complex of buildings and gardens on varying dates and styles more reminiscent of the layout of the Topkapi Palace than the Domabahce.

Buildings inside the park.

 Several of the buildings are now open to the public, who can, in any case, come here to explore the many paths and driveways, an to walk around a lake where wild animals were once kept on the island.  In 1980's the park was rescued and restored by the tireless Turkish Touring and Automobile Association although to has nous passed back into municipality hands.

Malta Pavilion

 The last  Ottoman sultan to wield absolute power, Abdulhamid II was nonetheless terrified of everyone and retreated to Yildiz Palace from the waterside palaces fearing an track from the Bosphorus.  Even then he was unable to relax.   The men who carried out the building work on the palace were not allowed to discuss the plans with each other, and the Sultan had some of the corridors blocked with stones to slow the progress of intruders.  Finally we has deposed in 1909 and exiled to Salonica whereupon the palace was plundered of many of its values.

Central fountain inside Malta Pavilion.

Centerpiece of the ground floor is what would once have been a magnificent indoor pool, its central fountain adorned with marble fish and swans; two more fountains against the wall have matching swan motifs.   Even the ladies' restroom is impressive as it retains the original marble washbasin; you can also examine, although not use, the original marble toilet.

Fountain agains the wall with swan motifs.

Stairs inside Malta Pavilion.

Painted ceilings inside  Malta Pavilion.

Ground floor salon of Malta Pavilion.

Main Salons upper floor Malta Pavilion.

Self portrait.

Upper floor salon of Malta Pavilion. 

Gardens and outdoor restaurant.

Garden resturant.

Views of the Bosphorus.

Woods of Yildiz Park.

The Yildiz Woods are the perfect place for a photo sessions.  During our visit we had the opportunity to see three couples photo sessions.  The outfits are really different and its just a sample of the variety of Turkey's people and traditions.

Wedding photo session.

Wedding photo session.

Wedding Photo Session.

Unfortunately the Yildiz Palace main building was under restoration and we could not see the imperial complex.  The Chalet and museums are all closed on Mondays and Thursdays but you can always enjoy a walk on the Park and even a brunch at the restaurants.  On Sundays the Malta Pavilion is a great place to come for a brunch with a view and not too scary prices.   

"Wednesday in Istanbul" Group.  

 So there is always a good reason to come back to this beautiful park.   As of now I hope you enjoy the views!

Soreya Reyes

Twitter:  @street_photos_