Read, Write, Run, Roam

Mosque on Sunday: Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul


This is my second-to-last post about Istanbul. It’s Real Housewife of Belgrade, after all. But the Suleymaniye Mosque deserves special attention. By most accounts, it’s the biggest Mosque in Istanbul. It was designed by Sinan Pasha, a famous Ottoman architect, for Sultan Suleyman.

Sultan Suleyman was the tenth and longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Under his reign, the Empire conquered parts of Eastern Europe (including Belgrade), the Middle East, and Africa. He also was known as “the lawgiver” because he reformed the Ottoman legal system. Finally, in true US Weekly style, Suleyman broke with tradition to marry a harem girl named Roxelana.

Roxelana was no slouch. She connived to send her harem rival out of Istanbul-with the harem rival’s son, who was heir apparent. Roxelana legally wed the Sultan, raising eyebrows from sea to shining sea. During her time as Hurrem (Sultan’s wife), it’s believed she influenced foreign affairs. Roxelana also may have encouraged the Sultan to kill the son of her former rival, paving the way for her own son to be heir. And I thought the Christina Aguilera rumors were bad. I just love gossip, I mean, history.

For a Sultan of such accomplishment, the mosque’s interior design is restrained. Small and intricate patterns stand out against mostly white walls. The overall effect is grand but peaceful.

We were incredibly lucky to be there in late November, because the mosque has just reopened after a three-year renovation. It’s a “must see” for travelers to Istanbul. While you’re there, be sure to visit Roxelana’s turbe (mausoleum) and honor a Real Housewife of Istanbul.

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