Even a quick trip to Istanbul would not be complete without a visit to my favourite mosque in Istanbul: Rüstem Pasha Mosque. On a cold and wet day, I headed past the Spice Market in search of the entrance to the mosque.
Even though I had been there a couple of times, it is still tricky to find. The entrance is hidden above market stalls that line the streets of the local market. I was looking for one of the two stairways that lead up from here and onto the terrace that surrounds the mosque.
The mosque is famous for the beautiful blue iznik tiles that decorate it, inside and out.
Designed by the Ottoman imperial architect, Mimar Sinan for the Grand Vizier Damat Rüstem Pasha (who was married to one of Suleiman the Great’s daughters) and built after his death in 1561, Rüstem Pasha Mosque features tiles produced in the western Anatolian town of Iznik which, at this time, had became a centre for the production of ceramics. Initially the colours, turquoise and cobalt blue were used but later in the 16th century, sage green and pale purple were introduced. These were then replaced by the use of a red colour and a brighter emerald green. By the 17th century the quality of the pottery and tiles was poor and they were no longer used.
These different colours are featured on the tiles both inside and on the facade of the mosque.
On Friday the crowds can flow out on to the terrance and the Mihrab (the concave recess in the centre of the photo) shows the worshippers the direction of Mecca
As you walk inside the mosque, your eyes are drawn to the low hanging lantern in the centre of the room. You then follow this up to the large central dome from where it hangs. Four semi-domes support this and they are all are surrounded by arched windows. The tiles on the walls glisten under this light.
It is a magical place…very peaceful and spiritual in its own way. Being alone gave me time to absorb and appreciate the different patterns and colours of the tiles, many of which feature the famous red colour that was so hard to obtain.
As the wails of the Muezzin started, I decided to leave and head for the nearby Spice Market.
There are so many historic sights to see in Istanbul that Rüstem Pasha Mosque is often overlooked but go and you will be well rewarded for your visit to one of the hidden gems of Istanbul.
How to find Rüstem Pasha Mosque
With your back to the Galata Bridge, Rüstem Pasha Mosque is just to the right of the Spice Market, below the larger Suleymaniye Mosque.
You can either keep walking out of the Spice Market alley that is parallel to the water and you then be in Hasircilar Çarşısı which will lead you the corner of Mahkeme Sk where you will find the mosque
You can walk across the plaza to the right of the Spice Market, through the car park and turn left into Mahkeme Sk. The mosque is on the left.
It is open everyday except at prayer times.
Would you like to see the Rüstem Pasha Mosque in Istanbul?
This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Don’t forget to pop over and see the other contributions.