İstanbul is Turkey's largest city. Although historians believe the city was founded nearly 2,600 years ago, archaeologists say it has been inhabited for at least 8,000 years. Serving as a bridge between two continents, İstanbul has been a center of civilizations and was capital of three world empires the Eastern Roman, the Byzantine and the Ottoman.
İstanbul has also served as one of the four centers of Orthodox Christianity and hosted five religious councils. People from all over the world visit the city because it has played an important role in the development of religions. The city houses Haghia Sophia, a basilica and of the greatest Byzantine architectural achievement, as well as the Orthodox Church Patriarchate in the district of Phanar (Fener), which makes the city important.
SULTANAHMET MOSQUE AND COMPLEX: One of the most magnificent shrines in the Müslim world and Istanbul's biggest mosque, the 17th century Sultanahmet Mosque is better known as the Blue Mosque because of its majestic blue-tiled interior. Sultan Ahmet I had the architect Sedefkar Mehmet Ağa built the mosque between the years 1609 and 1617.
It was the first big mosque to have been constructed in İstanbul since the time of Mimar Sinan, the Ottoman Empire's greatest architect. Due to the height of its dome, the mosque does not have any windows. The interior tiles can be seen with certain lighting. The mosaics, the highly ornamented prayer niche, the gate - inlaid with mother of pearl - and glittering tiles, marble carved balustrade are exquisite.
BÜYÜK MECİDİYE CAMİİ (ORTAKÖY MOSOUE): Sultan Abdülmecit had this single-domed mosque constructed in 1854. The facade has what is known as empire-style decorations that are complex.
AYASOFYA (HAGHİA SOPHİA) MUSEUM: Haghia Sophia, or Aya-sofya, is a sixth century Byzantine basilica turned into a mosque by the Ottoman Turks. It is now a museum. It was constructed on one of the seven hills of the city in the Fourth Century, but destroyed in riots and rebuilt. The church is a masterpiece of the Orthodox architecture, and indication of the greatness of the Byzantine Empire. It was used for centuries as the site for the coronation ceremonies of the Byzantine Emperors.The church is 94 meters long, 72 meters wide. The dome is 56 meters high and has a 32 meter diameter. The green columns inside were brought from the famed Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, while the red columns originated from Egypt, were transported to the city from Rome.Upon conquering the city, Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II rode to Haghia Sophia on his white stal-lion. When he got there he found the Orthodox Church Patriarch and thousands of frightened local citizens kowtowing before him. According to some sources, he told them: "Stand up. You need not have fear for your lives and freedom from my wrath." He ordered his commanders and soldiers not to bother the local populace and told them that they should allow the local inhabitants of the city to go to their home freely. After the first Friday prayers were held at Haghia Sophia on June 1, 1453, the sultan invited the newly elected Patriarch Georgios Skalarios, known as "Gennadios," to din-ner and gave him the crown and cane that symbolized the patriarch's spiritual leadership of the Orthodox Church, and accompanied him to the palace's door afterwards.The sultan also gave the Jewish community the right to operate its synagogues, and had a patriach elected of the Armenian Orthodox community to keep a balance between the various non-Muslim religious communities
ETZ AHAYIM SYNAGOGUE: Located in Ortaköy district, which was a typical Jewish settlement, the synagogue was built in the 17th century. Etz Ahayım means 'Tree of Life'. In 1941, a fire destroyed the synagogue. All that remains today is the cupboard where a handwritten copy of the Old Testament was kept, standing in the garden of the gutted synagogue. That the synagogue is located next to a church and a mosque shows that three monotheistic religions have existed together in peace and harmony for centuries.
MOSQUE OF EYÜP SULTAN: The mosque was built in 1458 by the orders of Sultan Mehmet II, and was the first Islamic shrine to be built after the Turkish conquest of the city.
THE TOMB OF EYÜP SULTAN: Considered one of the holiest shrines of the Müslim world, the tomb contains the remains of Halit Bin Zeyt (Eyüp), the standard bearer of the Prophet Mohammed. He was killed during the seventh Arab siege of İstanbul. His grave was found outside the walls of the city after the conquest of İstanbul. Sultan Mehmet IIbuilt a magnificent tomb to bear Eyüp's remains next to the Eyüp Sultan Mosque, in the district of Eyüp on the upper reaches of the Golden Horn.
FATİH MOSQUE: Sultan Mehmet II had this grand mosque constructed on the site of the ruins of Church of Apostles. It has a large complex of buildings and neighboring foundations for various other religious denominations. Sinaneddin Yusuf, the architect, built the mosque between the years 1462 and 1470. The mosque has a typical Ottoman style, without any influences of Byzantine architecture.
BAYEZIT MOSQUE: This mosque is located in Bayezıt Square. The mosque and complex, which includes a medrese, a mektep (school for lay students), a hospice, a caravanserai and a hamam was built by Sultan Bayezıt IIbetween 1501 and 1506. If one looks at the style of the mosque, it is believed to be the work of architect Hayrettin. Located in a wide area, the complex played an important role in the urbanization of the city.
SÜLEYMANİYE MOSOUE AND COMPLEX: The Mosque of Süleyman the Magnificient is one of the greatest achievements in Islamic arhitecture. İt is the work of the famed Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, who considered it as his work of apprenticeship. The complex is known for its technical, aesthetic and cultural magnificence, its sturdiness, and its decorations.The mosque has four minarets, two of which have two balconies and two which have three. The total balconies are ten, indicating that Süleyman was the tenth sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
THE TOMB OF MİMAR SİNAN: The Tomb of Mimar Sinan is located across from the Mosque of Süleyman the Magnificent and it is a simple but stylish tomb for the chief architect of the Ottoman Empire. Mimar Sinan died in 1588
THE MOSOUE OF SULTAN SELİM:
Located in the Sultan Selim neighborhood of Edirnekapı district, construction of the mosque was completed in 1522 during the rule of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificient. The writings at the entrance of the mosque say it was built on the orders of the Z7-. Sultan Selim I. Others say his son in honor of his father constructed it. Acem Ali was the architect.
HASEKİ MOSOUE: Süleyman the Magnificent had this mosque built in 1538 in honor of his wife Hürrem Sultan. It is the work of Mimar Sinan, and the complex includes a medrese (religious school), a darüşifa (dispensary), a hospice and a sebil (a monumental public fountain)
YENİ CAMİ (THE NEW MOSOUE):
Safiye Sultan, mother of Sultan Mehmet III started the mosque's construction in 1597. By the time it was finished both mother and son had died. It was completed in 1663 by Turhan Sultan, mother of Sultan Mehmet IV.
ŞEHZADE CAMİİ (ŞEHZADE MOSOUE): This mosque, constructed by Süleyman the Magnificent in honor of his favorite son Mehmet in 1548, is located in the Saraçhane district, across from the building of the İstanbul