Almost hidden among the narrow streets surrounding Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar, the Rustem Pasha Mosque is one of several Ottoman era mosques designed by famous imperial architect Mimar Sinan. Sitting on the site of an old Byzantine church, an inscription indicates that the mosque was built in honor of Suleyman the Magnificent’s son-in-law and grand vizier, Rustem Pasha. Despite incurring fire and earthquake damage over the years, the mosque has been repaired and still showcases some of the best of Ottoman architecture.
The Rustem Pasha Mosque is unique in that it sits on a high terrace above the hustle and bustle of the bazaar – many visitors don’t even realize it is there. Two staircases lead from the street up to the terrace and a colonnaded porch that stands in front of the diminutive mosque. However, the mosque may be best known for its extensive use of colorful Iznik tiles set in a variety of floral and geometric designs. Indeed, it could be considered one of the most lavish mosques in Istanbul, with tiles covering the outer façade, interior walls and four large pillars.
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The Rustem Pasha Mosque is located in the Weavers’ Market in the Eminonu district of Istanbul, not far from the Spice Bazaar. From the Eminonu bus stand, follow Kalcin Sokak to Hasircilar Caddesi and head right. Then, look for the stairs leading up to the mosque on the same street. Visitors should dress conservatively and remove their shoes before entering.