Istanbul has always surpassed other cities in Turkey in the number of mosques. But among the thousands of Islamic temples in the metropolis, there are only a few religious buildings erected in honor of the woman. Two of them are dedicated to Mihrimah Sultan – the only daughter of Suleiman I. One monastery is located in the European part of Istanbul in the Edirnekapi quarter, the other is located on the Asian side in the district of Uskudar. The Mihrimah Sultan Mosque (Edirnekapi) is distinguished by its special grace, and its interior is striking in its sophisticated beauty and soaring space.
The construction of the mosque dates back to 1565. The architect was the famous Ottoman engineer Mimar Sinan, who designed such famous monuments of Istanbul as Suleymaniye and the Rustem Pasha Mosque. In addition to the temple itself, the Islamic complex included Turkish baths (hammam), a traditional madrasah and a fountain. The Mihrimah Mosque suffered four times due to earthquakes, but at the end of the 20th century the building was completely restored, which today allows us to fully admire the architectural monument in Edirnekapi.
The figure of Mihrimah Sultan is capable of causing great interest not only among lovers of Turkish history, but also among ordinary inhabitants. Her fate was full of many dramatic events, but at the same time, the life of the princess is unique to women of that time. The only daughter of Suleiman and Alexandra Anastasia Lisowska was born in 1522. The father treated her with special care and love, gave her a great education and indulged her whim. The girl grew up surrounded by incredible luxury and did not refuse herself anything.
At the age of seventeen, the husbands of Mihrim were imposed on the governor Diyarbakir named Rustem Pasha, who was 22 years older than the princess. The marriage, beneficial to the empire, became unhappy for Mihrimah herself, but opened her access to state affairs. After the wedding, Rustem Pasha took over as chief vizier of the Ottoman Empire and served Suleiman I. for many years.
Through her husband, the princess influenced a number of important historical events. There are documented facts of the interference of the Mihrims in the great siege of Malta. It was the princess who insisted on the beginning of the campaign against the Knights’ Order of the Hospitallers, who had fled to the island at that time, and even allocated her own funds for the construction of 400 warships. However, military expansion turned out to be a complete failure for the Turks. However, the fact that the young princess had a similar effect on the foreign policy of the Ottoman Empire is already inherently unique.
Mihrimah Sultan, being fabulously rich, paid a lot of attention to charity. So, in 1548, at her command, the first mosque, named after her, appeared today in the district of Uskudar in Istanbul. In 1558, exactly 10 years after the opening of the temple, the mother of Mihrimah Alexandra Anastasia Lisowska Sultan died, and her husband Rustem Pasha died three years later. Saddened by the death of loved ones, the princess gave the order to build another mosque on the highest Istanbul hill (modern Edirnekapi). It is no coincidence that the architect Sinan adorned the new temple with only one minaret, which became a symbol of the loneliness of Mikhrimakh.
Often you can hear another, more romantic version of the appearance of both mosques Mihrimah Sultan. According to legend, the architect Mimar Sinan was madly in love with the princess, but a huge difference in age (33 years) made their marriage impossible. In addition, the architect already had his own family. Therefore, Sinan had no choice but to sing his feelings in clever religious complexes. The architect designed and built both mosques so that every year on the birthday of the princess, the sun set behind the minaret of one temple, while the moon appeared behind the minaret of the other.
Architecture and Interior
The Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in Istanbul is rightfully considered one of the most elegant and sophisticated religious buildings in the metropolis. The white temple in Edirnekapi, made in the shape of a hemisphere, is decorated with a large dome whose diameter is 19 m. The height of the mosque is 37 m. The dome is decorated with 3 miniature half-domes, and 4 arches support it. The monastery has only one minaret, which was completely destroyed during a powerful earthquake, but was successfully restored by order of the Turkish authorities.
There is a legend that initially the plan of the mosque included two minarets, but the princess ordered Sinan to erect only one, thereby wanting to emphasize the grief for her recently deceased husband.
The architect paid special attention to window openings located in several rows around the entire perimeter of the building. Thanks to the light entering the room through numerous windows, the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque illusory takes the form of a crystal ball. Wooden shutters and frames are decorated with ivory and mother of pearl, and the glass itself is represented by elaborate stained glass windows. Due to the lack of cumbersome support under the dome, the mosque in Edirnekapi inside looks light and airy, and the rich natural lighting visually expands its space. The decoration of the temple also features gilding and mosaic patterns.
Originally, the religious complex in Edirnekapi included a hospital and a caravanserai, but the buildings have not survived to this day. The fountain decorating the courtyard of the mosque appeared only in 1728. Today, Turkish baths and madrassas are preserved on the territory of the shrine, the tombs of the sons of Mihrimah Sultan are also located here. In general, the mosque in Edirnekapi in Istanbul is an outstanding architectural monument of the Suleiman the Magnificent era and definitely deserves the attention of tourists.
- Address: Karagümrük Mh., 34091, Edirnekapi, Fatih / Istanbul.
- How to get there: from the Sultanahmet district, you can get to the Mihrimah Mosque on the T1 tram, taking the Sultanahmet station and landing at the Edirnekapı Kaleboyu stop. The facility is located 260 m east of the tram station. Bus No. 87 will take you from Taksim Square to the mosque.
- Opening hours: You can visit the Mihrimah Mosque in Istanbul, like any other temple in Turkey, between the prayers in the morning and afternoon.
- A visit to the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in Edirnekapi is easy to combine with a tour of other sights of Istanbul. Near the complex are such iconic objects of the city as the Fethiye Museum and the Choir Museum.
- 2 km north-east of the religious building is the Balat ferry pier, from where, after inspecting the mosque, you can go on a boat trip along the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus.
- When visiting a mosque in Edirnekapi in Istanbul, women are required to observe a special dress code: arms, legs and head must be hidden from prying eyes. Therefore, it is worth taking a scarf and a long skirt with you. If you don’t have such things at hand, you can get the appropriate clothes at the entrance to the monastery.
- At the entrance to the mosque, you must remove the shoes that are usually left outside. If you are worried about the safety of your belongings, then it is logical to take a spacious bag or backpack with you.
- Inside the mosque, you should behave appropriately: loud conversations and laughter in the walls of the temple are unacceptable.
The Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in the Edirnekapi district of Istanbul is unfamiliar to most tourists. Nevertheless, it is a worthy architectural monument, characterized by rich decoration and bright airspace. If, being in Istanbul, you planned to visit the Museum of the Choir, then do not forget to include the Mihrimah Mosque in your excursion list. And to make your visit to the temple truly interesting, be sure to familiarize yourself with the history of the complex and the life of Princess Mihrimah herself.