The Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Mosque was designed by imperial architect Sinan for Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmet Pasha, the husband of one of the granddaughters of Suleyman the Magnificent. Completed around 1571, it was built on a steep slope and, as a result, features an interesting two-story courtyard in front of the mosque. The bottom level of the courtyard consisted of shops whose rents would support the upkeep of the mosque. The complex also included a madrassah and accommodations for the students.
The mosque was designed as a hexagon inside of a rectangle and is topped by a dome surrounded by four smaller semi-domes. Though smaller than many Ottoman era mosques, it is exquisite nonetheless. The interior is best known for its extensive use of Iznik tiles, mostly in blue and green and forming a variety of floral designs. Nearly 100 stained glass windows create a bright and colorful prayer hall and calligraphic tiles proclaim the 99 attributes of God. The mosque also contains four fragments of the sacred Black Stone in the Kaaba at Mecca.
Though it was restored to some extent in 1930, the mosque today remains largely in its original state.
If you are staying in or around Sultanahmet, the mosque may be an easy walk from your hotel. It is certainly within a few minutes of sights like the Blue Mosque or Sultanahmet Square. Coming from elsewhere in Istanbul, take the tram and get off at Cemberlitas or Sultanahmet. If the mosque isn’t open when you arrive, you may need to find the guardian to open it for you. Visitors should dress conservatively and remove their shoes before entering the mosque.
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