Rüstem Pasha: My Favourite Mosque in Istanbul

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 terrace of the Rüstem Pasha Mosque in Istanbul

The terrace of the Rüstem Pasha Mosque


Under the terrace of the Rüstem Pasha Mosque in Istanbul

The decoration under the arches of the terrace.


The mosque is famous for the beautiful blue iznik tiles that decorate it, inside and out.

Iznik tiles line the front of the Rüstem Pasha Mosque in Istanbul

Stunning iznik tiles line the front of the mosque.


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.


The exterior of the Rustem Pasha Mosque in Istanbul

Some of the beautiful tiles that line the exterior 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


Iznik tiles at Rüstem Pasha Mosque in Istanbul

At the other end of the terrace…



Iznik tiles at the Rustem Pasha Mosque in Istanbul

This panel features earlier tiles using the sage green and purple colours



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.


Inside Rüstem Pasha Mosque in Istanbul

Inside the mosque


The dome of the Rüstem Pasha Mosque in Istanbul

The dome of the mosque


Rüstem Pasha Mosque

Another view of the interior



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.


Rüstem Pasha Mosque

A mixture of the different patterns and colours of the tiles



Iznik tiles at the Rüstem Pasha Mosque

I love the way the patterns are all different..


Iznik tiles at the Rüstem Pasha Mosque




Iznik tiles at the Rüstem Pasha Mosque

Another corner of the mosque!


Iznik Tiles

Different patterns of the tiles


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.

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42 Responses to Rüstem Pasha: My Favourite Mosque in Istanbul

  1. Tonya @ The Traveling Praters December 13, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    The colors and architecture are stunning! Very beautiful.

    • [email protected] December 14, 2012 at 9:46 am #

      It certainly is a stunning place Tonya. The tiles are beautiful.

  2. budget jan December 13, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Thanks for the directions Jenny, I will look for it if and when we get to Istanbul. We really enjoy finding places that are quiet where you can take your time to explore. The patchwork of blue tiles of differing designs is very appealing.

    • [email protected] December 14, 2012 at 9:39 am #

      It is definitely worth a visit Jan…so peaceful and the tiles are stunning. I hope you’re planning a long stay in Istanbul. There’s so much to do!

  3. Lisa from Gone With The Family December 13, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    What an incredibly beautiful mosque! I wish I would have known about it before we visited Istanbul – we were at the Spice Market and would have loved to see all that beautiful tile work. It also looks like it is every bit as beautiful and no where near as crowded as the Blue Mosque – definitely a hidden gem!

    • [email protected] December 14, 2012 at 9:41 am #

      So close!! It’s so much smaller and more intimate than the Blue Mosque which is why I prefer it. Sounds as though yOu may have to plan another trip there Lisa!

  4. Muza-chan December 13, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

    Beautiful decorations 🙂

  5. InsideJourneys December 13, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    I’d definitely love to see this mosque. Thanks for including directions, with my sense of direction, I probably would have missed it all together!

    • [email protected] December 14, 2012 at 9:43 am #

      Even with the directions it’s still a bit tricky to find but the people are so helpful, someone will tell you where it is. It is certainly worth it Marcia!

  6. Jackie Smith December 13, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    I love Istanbul and am captured each time by the beauty of those blue tiles. You’ve shown me a new destination to add to the next time list. Thanks!

    • [email protected]avel December 14, 2012 at 9:44 am #

      Istanbul is one of my favourite cities Jackie. It is certainly a place you would love..the tiles are beautiful!

  7. Leigh December 14, 2012 at 2:32 am #

    I didn’t make it there when I was in Istanbul but it does look like a very peaceful place. I love the blue tile and the designs.

    • [email protected] December 14, 2012 at 9:45 am #

      A lot of people seem to mis this mosque Leigh which is a shame as the tiles are magnificent. Next time?

  8. Sensibletraveler December 14, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    I really like the blue tiles. Is it always so deserted/ The photos made it seem like you had the place to yourself.

    • [email protected] December 15, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

      I was the only one in the mosque until just before prayer time when a few locals came in. This is why I love this mosque..it’s so peaceful and the tiles are stunning!

  9. Johanna @ The Zigazag Mag December 14, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    So ancient and so beautiful. Love your pictures Jenny. What an artform mosaic is – and how apt for this linky!

    • [email protected] December 15, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

      Thanks Jo. The tiles are beautiful…I love the way they mix all the different patterns.

  10. Krista December 14, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    Oh wow!! I would love to visit this mosque. Those blue and white tiles are absolutely stunning. 🙂

    • [email protected] December 15, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

      They are so beautiful Krista. You’d love being here..it’s such a peaceful and calm envoirment

  11. Mary @ The World Is A Book December 14, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    Absolutely beautiful! It’s no wonder this is a favorite of yours. Love the architecture and most of all those tiles. I have been loving your Jordan and Istanbul FB posts and hope to retrace your steps soon.

    • [email protected] December 15, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

      Thanks Mary. Istanbul is one of my favourite cities. I’m looking forward to reliving the Jordan trip in the New Year when I can get the photos organized…it was an a amazing trip, you’ll love it! When are you going? If I can help you with anything, please let me know.

  12. Sophie December 15, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

    Love all the different shades of blue here. So beautiful and surprising this (unknown to me) mosque; thanks for sharing.

    • [email protected] December 15, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

      Pleasure Sophie. It’s fascinating how they mix all the different colours patterns and colours of the tiles and how beautiful they look. It’s certainly one gem worth seeking out when you’re next in Istanbul.

  13. Red Nomad OZ December 16, 2012 at 6:39 am #

    Although it’s a departure from my customary RED, these BLUES are magnificent and the mosaics so intricate – and intriguing! A beautiful mixture of colours, patterns, designs and art!!

  14. Jo December 16, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    This is beautiful, Jenny. I also love Turkish tiles (in fact I love all tiles!) and your photos are glorious. I’m hoping to get to Istanbul in September next year, and will definitely be adding this to the list.

    • [email protected] December 16, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

      Thanks Jo. Rüstem Pasha is one I always return to because of the beautiful tiles! You’ll love Istanbul…just allow plenty of time as there’s so much to see.

  15. Miret December 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    This is a very pretty mosque. Love the blue tiles!

    • [email protected] December 16, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

      Istanbul is one of my favourite cities Miret. I love going back to the city and this mosque is always top of the list of places I go revisit.

  16. Ozlem's Turkish Table December 19, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

    Beautiful tiles and mozaics, so peaceful – a must visit when I return to Istanbul in February, thanks for the gorgeous photos!

  17. Karen Barrett-Wilt December 27, 2012 at 11:20 pm #

    I like this place so much I’ve written two posts about it! And yes, it was hard to find, but totally worth it. Thanks for the amazing photos!

    • [email protected] December 30, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

      Thank you for your comment Karen and for visiting. I found one of your posts- a great read. I’m so glad you found it…it’amazing how many people don’t know about it or can’t find it. Seems as though you love Turkey too!

  18. Lottie December 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    I’m hoping to head to Istanbul for a research trip on Constantinople in Late Antiquity at somepoint towards the end of 2013 or the start of 2014, I’ll be putting Rustem Pasha on my to-do list.

    • [email protected] December 30, 2012 at 11:53 am #

      Sounds like a fascinating trip Lottie. Definitely visit Rüstem Pasha and also put the Chora Museum on your list too. There’s so much to see in Istanbul!

  19. Suzanne (Travelbunny) December 30, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

    We only had two day in Istanbul and missed this mosque so thanks for the nod – will definitely visit next time we’re in the city. Thank you.

    • [email protected] December 31, 2012 at 8:07 am #

      Next time you’ll have stay much longer in Istanbul Suzanne. It’s such a fabulous city with so much to do. You won’t be disappointed putting Rüstem Pasha on your itinerary next time you visit!

  20. Elle Croft October 17, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

    Thanks so much for this post – the directions are especially helpful, as I’ve heard it’s hard to find. I will be in Istanbul for just a few hours next week, and I think this will be one of the things I make sure I see while I’m there. Can you recommend a good breakfast in this area?

    • Jenny Freedman October 26, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

      Hi Elle. Great that you are going to see the Rüstem Pasha Mosque. I don’t often eat on the Sultanahmet side but if you head over the Galata Bridge and up to Galata Tower, there is a great little cafe called Cafe Privato that does a fabulous village breakfast. Have fun!

      • Elle Croft October 30, 2013 at 4:01 am #

        Thanks Jenny…in the end I didn’t really have time to find breakfast but I loved Rustem Pasha, so thanks so much for the recommendation!! I wrote about it here if you’re interested…http://bit.ly/1dev3y2

        • Jenny Freedman October 31, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

          Hi Elle. You certainly did a lot in your 5 hours. Glad you loved Rüstem Pasha!

  21. mm April 18, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

    Rustem Pasa is also my favourite mosque in Istanbul and no one understands why I like this small mosque situated in such a crowded area when there are so many big, elegant, well-known ones… Just like you, whenever I visit Istanbul, I can’t imagine not visiting Rustem Pasa Mosque… I adore tiles and because of its small size tiles here have more impact than in big mosques and I like the peace and quite inside so close to the busy market outside… Much more spiritual place that the big, more touristy mosques…

    • Jenny Freedman April 19, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

      Lovely to hear that you love it too. We’re probably lucky that not many people know about it or even understand why we like it otherwise our days of sitting there peacefully and taking in the atmosphere and the magnificent tiles would be over. Thank you for letting me know I am not alone in loving this mosque.

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