A Gem by Turkey's Master Architect
After a few days in Istanbul you will have likely heard the name Mimar Sinan (1489–1588) many times, and before long you will have seen some of the architect's works, from the kitchens of Topkapı Palace to the city's largest mosque, the Süleymaniye. The 16th-century architect is considered the master of classical Ottoman architecture, whose buildings are soaring achievements that built on the Byzantine goal of creating voluminous spaces under floating domes. Just slightly off the tourist trail, at a few hundred yards to the west of the Spice Bazaar, the Rüstem Pasha Mosque is a gem by Sinan that deserves a detour. You'll get to experience the architect's work on an intimate scale, while another highlight is the İznik tilework that was at its peak in the 16th century. In the more famous Blue Mosque, much of the tilework is high above visitors' heads, but here it is at eye level—all the better to appreciate its details. If some of the spiritual atmosphere of other mosques is lost with the crowds of visitors, at Rüstem Pasha it is still possible to admire the blue tiles, surrounded by silence, before heading back out into the city.
By John Newton, AFAR Contributor
Rüstem Paşa Mosque
If you find the colorful tilework of the Blue Mosque inspiring but the crowds less than peaceful, seek out the lesser-visited Rüstem Paşa Mosque. Designed by master Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan after he finished the massive Süleymaniye Mosque (which looms nearby) the interior is a celebration of blue, red, and green Iznik tiles on a much more intimate and modest scale than its more well-known cousins. The mosque was built fifty years before the Blue Mosque, whose architect apprenticed under Sinan. The mosque is located within a terraced courtyard above shop stalls, follow Hasircilar Caddesi from the Spice Market and look for a staircase entrance near the corner of Mahkeme Sok.
By Meg Nesterov, AFAR Local Expert
Men washing their feet before entering the Mosque.
Must see mosque in Istanbul
I enjoyed the tile work here more than the Blue Mosque.