We visit the magnificent New Mosque of Istanbul. This is a thousand-year-old city on the shores of the Bosphorus that still transmits all the essence of ancient Byzantium and Constantinople. The entire city is a melting pot of cultures and trade routes that have converged here for thousands of years.
Located between two continents, there are few opportunities like this to soak up the crossroads of cultures, history and gastronomy. Istanbul is one of the most magical places one can travel to. There is no way not to fall in love with this beautiful city.
Already from the plane, if you have the opportunity to arrive at dusk, the shapes of the city can be sensed in the silhouettes marked by its illuminated streets and monuments. Istanbul is a spectacle of life, color and flavors, even before setting foot in it.
The origin of the New Mosque in Istanbul
It is one of the treasures of the city. Its original name is Yeni Camii and, we clarify this from the beginning, it has been known as “new” since it began to be built, in the year 1597. The Golden Horn is the place where this imposing construction is located, built as part of a larger complex.
Its history dates back to the sultanate of Murad III and was built in two phases. The chronicles say that it was at the request of his wife, Safiye. It seems that the political class, especially the Janissaries, were suspicious of the project, considering Safiye too influential in the sultan’s decisions.
Besides, the chosen location, the Eminönü neighborhood, was inhabited mostly by Jews, who considered the project as an imposition of Islam. All this complicated the beginning of the construction of the mosque quite a bit.
The high economic cost that the construction of the New Mosque was assuming meant that, finally, the project was abandoned after the death of Murad III.
The new sultan had no interest in the mosque. Safiya was relegated to the harem and the mosque was left in ruins. It was not until 1660 when the mother of another sultan, advised by the imperial architect, interceded to resume the works of Yeni Camii. A) Yes, the works could be finished in the year 1663.
The exterior of the New Mosque in Istanbul
The mosque is built with stone blocks that were brought from Rhodes, and the facade was covered with Iznik tiles. The New Mosque has 66 domes and semi-domes in a pyramidal shape and two minarets. The main dome is supported by four semi-domes and is 36 meters high.
It is preceded by a monumental courtyard on the west side, typical of imperial mosques. The courtyard borders on one of its sides with a peristyle of columns with small domes. On the south wall are the fountains used for purifications.in addition to the main source of ablution, which is located in the center.
The interior of Yeni Camii
The main floor is square. The pillars that support the dome are the ones that also define the central area of the floor plan. It is surrounded on three sides by arches that are connected by slender marble columns.
The interior walls of the mosque are adorned with white, blue and green tiles. A royal pavilion was located in the northwest corner, linked to the mosque by a long corridor. It is separated by a large golden grille from which members of the imperial court attended services.
The imperial mosques of Istanbul were designed as part of larger architectural projects, the külliye. These complexes had adjacent buildings in which both religious and other needs were attended to.
The külliye Istanbul’s original New Mosque consisted of a hospital, a school, the palace, the mosque and a large market. The market is the current Spice Bazaar, or Egyptian Bazaar, which is another must-see in Istanbul.
Discovering the true essence of Istanbul goes through a visit to each and every one of its architectural gems, and the New Mosque is one of them. This is one of the many treasures that this city keeps for travelers who come to live it.