Suleymaniye Mosque

After lunch at the Grand Bazaar, we trekked up the hill through the market zone to the Suleymaniye Mosque. We entered near the mausoleums of Suleyman and Hurrem Sultan, passing through a cemetery area with many beautiful grave markers in front of the tombs of the sultan and his wife, and into the expansive courtyard that overlooks the Golden Horn.

The Suleymaniye Mosque was completed in 1557, and is considered the masterpiece of the great architect Mimar Sinan. The inside of the mosque was lovely, with a more restrained style of decoration than the Blue Mosque and an airier feeling. Several volunteers were on hand to answer questions, which we saw at a couple of the other mosques we visited.  The woman we spoke to was very friendly and knowledgable, and clearly proud of the mosque.  We asked her about the decorations on the dome, and learned about the clever ventilation system that collected soot from the candles and oil lamps to make ink for the calligraphers.

It was a very hot day, and we were feeling wilted after we finished at the mosque. We stopped for a snack at one of the cafes next door to drink lots of water and cool off under their mist fans while sharing a slice of trileche cake. We got a thumbs up from the server when we told him we were from California.

From there we walked back down the hill through the market streets, stopping for a selection of take out baklava: walnut, tahini, and young pistachio. There is no surprise in this, but on this walk we really noticed that once we got just a little bit outside the tourist zone of the old city, people were quite friendly to us. We found the exterior of the Rustem Pasha Mosque, but it was too late in the day to go in for a visit. too late to go in to see the interior, so we grabbed a tram back to Sultanahmet and back to the hotel before heading out later for dinner.