Ottoman Imperial Mosques – Istanbul (part 2)
Sane Mind Turkey

Ottoman Imperial Mosques – Istanbul (part 2)

The Ottoman army conquered Constantinople in 1453. The Ottoman sultanate was abolished in 1922. The city of Constantinople or Istanbul, as it is now called, was under the Ottoman rule for 469 years. Consequently, the Ottoman heritage in Istanbul is enormous and it spreads over many centuries –  from the beginning of the Ottoman rule to the establishment of the modern Turkish republic. Of all Ottoman heritage in Istanbul, clearly the Ottoman imperial mosques are the most noticeable.

 

 

THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURY OTTOMAN IMPERIAL MOSQUES IN ISTANBUL

 

Usually built as monumental complexes that comprise various structures, they are historically significant and are a crucial part of the architectural and artistic heritage. But, some imperial mosques are smaller and reflect the contemporary trends of an era in which they were constructed.

I wrote about the Ottoman 16th and 17th century imperial mosques in my previous post. This post is about the mosques constructed in the later period of the Ottoman empire, namely in the 18th and the 19th century. They are the mosques that I visited during my last stay in Istanbul.

Certainly, the list is not comprehensive because I visited just those located in the most central part of the Istanbul’s historical area. Almost every sultan wanted to leave his mark on the city, thus there are many of them.

Additionally, other members of the Ottoman dynasty also commissioned constructions of the mosque complexes. I will visit the remaining ones next time.

 

 

THE VALİDE-İ CEDID MOSQUE / THE YENİ VALİDE MOSQUE (1711)

 

The same as some other Ottoman imperial mosques in Istanbul, this mosque has two names. The sign at the entrance to the mosque shows the name Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque. Otherwise, the other name is Yeni Valide Mosque. This is the same as the Blue Mosque, the most famous of all mosques in Istanbul, which is in fact the Sultan Ahmed mosque.

 

Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque

 

This mosque is in Üsküdar, on the Asian side of Istanbul. I went to Üsküdar for the first time ever during my last stay in Istanbul. I also visited this mosque for the first time. When I went there, there were no foreign tourists, only a handful of worshippers and there were also some local people within the complex.

 

Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque

 

What I particularly like when I visit places like this one is that I learn something completely new. My knowledge of the 18th and the 19th century Ottoman history and especially of this mosque was non-existent. But I read about it, so that I could understand what I was visiting.

I also think that it is important to put everything in its proper historical context. Of course, there is no need to learn the most minute details, far from that. Usually, a bit of information is perfectly sufficient. After all, there is so much history in the world and it’s impossible to learn and know everything.

 

Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque

 

Sultan Ahmed III ordered construction of this mosque in honour of his mother Emetullah Râbi’a Gülnûş Sultan.

 

Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque

 

The mosque opened in 1711. In fact, it’s a complex consisting of a mosque, a hospice, arasta (shops built beneath or close to the mosque to provide income for repairs and maintenance), a primary school, a courtyard fountain, a clock tower and offices.

 

Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque

 

The building is typical of the classical Ottoman period and of the “Sinan school” of the Ottoman religious architecture. In fact, it’s a copy of the Rüstem Pasha Mosque.

What’s also interesting about this mosque is that it is one of the earliest examples of the 18th century trend when they started to construct mosques with higher and narrower domes.

 

Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque

  

Gülnuş Sultan was Haseki Sultan (wife) of the Ottoman sultan Mehmed IV.

 

Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque

 

Additionally, she was Valide Sultan (queen mother) when her two sons became sultans – Mustafa II and Ahmed III.

 

Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque

 

Gülnuş Sultan was born in Crete, at the time when the Venetian Republic ruled the island. Her original name was Evmania Voria and she was an ethnic Greek. Ottomans captured her during the invasion of Crete in 1645.

She was three years old when she was sent to Constantinople, as a slave. She lived in a harem of the Topkapi Palace, where she received the thorough Islamic education. It was in the harem that she caught the attention of Sultan Mehmed IV.

 

Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque

 

She became Valide Sultan when her older son, Mustafa II, became a sultan in 1695. She held that powerful position until her death in 1715. At the time of her death, her younger son Ahmed III was the sultan.

 

Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque

 

That was a bit of a history about the woman that had a magnificent complex built in her name, in Üsküdar. As I said, the proper historical context makes it much easier to understand and appreciate what we are seeing.

Another interesting fact is that, in the Ottoman empire, slaves could reach powerful positions. This particular slave woman was the sultan’s wife and the mother of two sultans of the Ottoman empire.

 

Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque

 

Everyone visiting Üsküdar should visit this mosque, especially as it’s very close to the port. It is a beautiful complex and a jewel of the Ottoman heritage.

 

Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Vâlide-İ Cedid Mosque

 

 

THE NURUOSMANİYE MOSQUE (1755)

 

The Nuruosmaniye Mosque is also one of the most recognisable Istanbul’s landmarks. When you cross the Galata Bridge from Karaköy to Eminönü, it is right in front of you. It dominates the Istanbul’s skyline, together with other prominent constructions such as the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, the New Mosque and the Süleymaniye Mosque.

Additionally, it is right next to the Grand Bazaar and most tourist inevitably pass through the courtyard of this mosque, on the way to the Grand Bazaar.

 

Nuruosmaniye Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Nuruosmaniye Mosque

 

I have also seen this mosque every time when I was in Istanbul in the past. In fact, it’s a site that you can’t miss. It’s in the most central part of the old historical area, close to other famous historical structures.

 

Nuruosmaniye Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Nuruosmaniye Mosque

 

Sultan Mahmud I commissioned its construction in 1748.

 

Nuruosmaniye Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Nuruosmaniye Mosque

 

But, his successor Sultan Osman III completed it in 1755.

 

Nuruosmaniye Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Nuruosmaniye Mosque

 

This mosque is one of the finest examples of the Ottoman baroque style. Its name means “the light of Osman”, after Sultan Osman III, who completed it. Also, many windows let a lot of light into the mosque.

 

Nuruosmaniye Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Nuruosmaniye Mosque

 

I believe that, because of its location, this mosque is one of the most visited ones, together with the Blue Mosque.

 

Nuruosmaniye Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Nuruosmaniye Mosque

 

If you happen to pass nearby, I encourage you to visit it. The mosque and the surrounding complex are beautiful. A feature that caught my attention was the calligraphic writings in gold letters on red metal plates, representing the Islamic art at its best!

 

Nuruosmaniye Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Nuruosmaniye Mosque

 

 

THE FATİH MOSQUE (1771)

 

Despite the fact that I visited Istanbul many times in the past, I’ve never been to the Fatih Mosque. I’ve seen it many times, every time when I was crossing the Galata Bridge. The Fatih Mosque is also one of the Istanbul’s landmarks.

But, it’s a bit further away from the central historical area and you have to especially go there to see it. That’s also why there were no foreign tourists when I visited this complex. I didn’t know very much about this mosque and didn’t know what to expect.

 

Fatih Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Fatih Mosque

 

The Fatih Mosque and the surrounding complex are one of the biggest in Istanbul. The whole site is breathtaking. However, only after I had read about it, I properly understood its historical significance.

 

Fatih Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Fatih Mosque

 

In fact, this mosque is possibly one of the most important ones among the Ottoman imperial mosques in Istanbul. Its history is fascinating and of particular interest to me, which I will mention later.

 

Fatih Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Fatih Mosque

 

The construction that we see today is from the 18th century. Fatih in Turkish means conqueror. Fatih Camii means the Conqueror’s Mosque.

 

Fatih Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Fatih Mosque

 

The Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II – Mehmed the Conqueror – commissioned the original mosque in 1463, 10 years after he conquered Constantinople. The original complex was completed in 1470.

 

Fatih Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Fatih Mosque

 

But, the original construction was completely destroyed in an earthquake, in 1766. Sultan Mustafa III pulled it down and built a completely new complex in 1771.

 

Fatih Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Fatih Mosque

 

So, what is so interesting about this mosque?

First of all, it is dedicated to the person that conquered Constantinople in 1453. That conquest cemented the expansion of the Ottoman empire in one of the most powerful empires for over 600 years.

 

Fatih Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Fatih Mosque

 

Additionally, Fatih Sultan Mehmed II conquered Serbia. Serbia was an Ottoman vassal state since the Battle of Kosovo in 1389.

But, Fatih Sultan Mehmed II ended the Serbian Despotate in 1459 and fully absorbed Serbia within the Ottoman empire.

 

Fatih Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Fatih Mosque

 

In other words, from that moment, until the independence in 1867, Serbia doesn’t have a history. For approximately 400 years, the history of Serbia is the history of the Ottoman empire.

 

Fatih Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Fatih Mosque

 

The original complex was the oldest in the city, as it was built right after the Ottoman army captured Constantinople. The existing 18th century complex is monumental.

 

Fatih Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Fatih Mosque

 

Behind the mosque, there is a tomb (türbe) of the Conqueror. I went there to see the resting place of the person that changed the history of Serbs. I mentioned in my post on Belgrade that the Renaissance never arrived to Serbia, as it was firmly within the Ottoman grip.

 

Fatih Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Fatih Mosque

 

In any case, the Fatih Mosque is a must see.

 

Fatih Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Fatih Mosque

 

The surrounding area is very interesting, you can find some nice coffee shops there. Also, it’s on the way to the Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque, so you can combine the visit.

The nearby traditional area of Istanbul is equally fascinating. It projects a very specific image of the city, totally different from what you find in other areas.

 

Fatih Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques, Istanbul
The Fatih Mosque

 

 

THE LALELİ MOSQUE (1783)

 

I’ve never visited the Laleli Mosque in the past. Actually, I don’t think that I’ve ever seen it before, despite the fact that it is very close to the Grand Bazaar.

 

Laleli Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Laleli Mosque

 

In fact, when you are in front of the Grand Bazaar, close to the Bayezid Mosque and then you start walking down the Ordu street, you arrive to the Laleli Mosque.

 

Laleli Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Laleli Mosque

 

And if you continue to walk, you will arrive to one more Ottoman imperial mosque that I will mention in this post. Ottoman imperial mosques are all over Istanbul.

 

Laleli Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Laleli Mosque

 

Sultan Mustafa III ordered construction of this mosque in the Ottoman Baroque style.

 

Laleli Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Laleli Mosque

 

The mosque was completed in 1764, destroyed in fire in 1783 and it was immediately rebuilt.

 

Laleli Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Laleli Mosque

 

The fire destroyed a madrasa in 1911. The construction work on nearby Ordu street destroyed other structures of the original complex.

 

Laleli Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Laleli Mosque

 

Regardless of its unfortunate history, the mosque is beautiful. It is smaller than other imperial mosques.

 

Laleli Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Laleli Mosque

 

Most importantly, if you go there you will be able to enjoy in its relative tranquillity, as there are no tourists. At least, there were no one there when I visited this mosque.

 

Laleli Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Laleli Mosque

 

In fact, it’s quite interesting that this mosque is approximately a ten-minute walk from the Grand Bazaar and, while the bazaar and its surrounding area are usually completely invaded by the tourists, this and other historically important and interesting sites are completely overlooked.

 

Laleli Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Laleli Mosque

 

Like all other mosques, its interior decoration is stunning.

 

Laleli Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Laleli Mosque

 

It wasn’t the prayer time when I visited this mosque but, as you can see in these photos, some worshippers were praying.

The only time when the mosques are closed for visitors is during the official prayer times, which is five times per day. At other times, the mosques are open to everyone, for as long as you take your shoes off before you enter.

 

Laleli Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Laleli Mosque

 

Additionally, as you can see in the photo below, mosques are also used as a resting place. There were some people sleeping. It was a very hot day, while it was cool and pleasant inside of the mosque.

 

Laleli Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Laleli Mosque

 

Certainly, the Laleli Mosque is a beautiful late 18th century building and one more precious jewel of the Ottoman imperial heritage in Istanbul.

 

Laleli Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Laleli Mosque

 

 

THE PERTEVNİYAL VALİDE SULTAN MOSQUE (1871)

 

The Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque, also known as the Aksaray Valide Mosque, is the last in the list of Ottoman imperial mosques that I visited during my stay in Istanbul.

 

Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque

 

This mosque is very close to the Laleli Mosque. You can easily visit both places at the same time.

 

Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque

 

It is also the smallest of all Ottoman imperial mosques that I visited.

 

Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque

 

Built in 1871, it was one of the last imperial mosques to be built in Istanbul during the Ottoman era. Consequently, it is very different to all other mosques.

 

Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque

 

This mosque is an example of the Ottoman Rococo, with elements of the Turkish, Gothic, Renaissance and Empire styles. In my opinion, it’s possibly one of the most beautifully decorated mosques, provided you like the Rococo style.

 

Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
Th Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque

 

Who is this mosque named after? Pertevniyal Sultan was the wife of Sultan Mahmud III.

 

Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque

 

Her further powerful role was Valide Sultan (queen mother) of Sultan Abdülaziz.

 

Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque

 

The interior is magical, especially the opulently decorated dome.

 

Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque

 

The mosque is in a busy area, with a lot of traffic and perhaps that can take some pleasure away when you visit it.

 

Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque

 

The surrounding complex is small but very interesting, especially because it’s completely different from the other Ottoman heritage that you can see in Istanbul.

 

Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque - Ottoman Imperial Mosques
The Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque

 

In this and the previous posts, I presented the Ottoman imperial mosques that I visited during my stay in Istanbul. The list is not comprehensive. There are other imperial mosques that I didn’t visit.

I will see them next time. We don’t need to see absolutely everything at once. Then, I will complete these two articles.

Additionally, I hope that these posts will serve as an inspiration to people interested in the Ottoman history. They may inspire you to follow in my steps and visit these magnificent historical sites and structures.

 

 

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