The Largest and Most Beautiful Imperial Mosque
Known for its graceful minarets, stained-glass windows, and excellent acoustics, the Mosque of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (Süleymaniye Camii) is the largest and considered the most beautiful in all of mosque-filled Istanbul.
Crowning a hill with its looming, unmistakable silhouette, it is Istanbul’s most identifiable landmark, which is just what the builder had in mind. Suleiman I, the greatest, richest, and most powerful of the Ottoman sultans, created this monument to himself between 1550 and 1557, and was buried here (together with his favorite wife, known in the West as Roxelana, “the Russian”) just nine years after its completion. Near their elaborately tile-embellished octagonal tombs (ask for the türbeler) is the modest tomb of Mimar Sinan, Turkey’s greatest architect, who was responsible for this extraordinary structure.
Although the Süleymaniye is the most sumptuous (and, as it turned out, most famous) of the many tributes he designed for his patron, Sinan considered his masterpiece to be the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, northwest of Istanbul, near the borders of Bulgaria and Greece.