Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday, November 30, 2014

I have done quite a lot of DIY walking tours around Istanbul, and during the past I have walked along the length of Uzun Carsi from the Grand Bazaar in Beyazit to Yeni Mosque in Eminonu ferry port but I have never visited this mosque.  The bazaars scene along this long market street is lively with shops selling everything – apparel, kitchen wares, prayer beads, home decors, copper and tin pans and pots.  It’s more of a local atmosphere but you’ll spot the occasional adventurous foreign tourists walking along haggling for items otherwise sold at the Grand Bazaar at a much higher cost. 

I know I have seen a mosque at the end of the street near the port side but it looked insignificant to deserve a visit until I’ve heard some rave reviews about it.  So I went to Eminonu ferry port and walked down the pedestrian underpass which leads to the Yeni Mosque.

For some reason, I like this mosque a lot.  Maybe it’s about the location near the bosphorous or I enjoy watching people especially the children feeding and chasing the thousands of pigeons flocking in front near the entrance, or maybe because it’s almost similar to the grandeur of the Blue Mosque yet less touristy. 

Yeni Mosque, like the more famous Blue Mosque in Sultanahmet is also an Ottoman imperial mosque and was originally named after the mother of Sultan Mehmed III, the Valide Sultan or the Queen Mother.  Although construction was started in 1597 by the wife of Sultan Murad III, it was finally completed in 1663 and was inaugurated as Yeni Valide Sultan Mosque in 1665.  It was shortened later to just the Yeni Mosque.

Yeni Mosque

Whenever I’m in this area, I usually go inside, sit at one corner of the beautiful carpet and ruminate until I feel calmed, most especially in the early mornings when the mosque is almost empty and it’s very quiet except for a staff or two changing some lightings of the huge chandeliers.  But it’s midday, so I might just sit and watch the Salat ul-Zuhr or noontime prayer.

I crossed the big plaza in front of the Yeni Mosque to the beginning of Uzun Carsi Cadessi with the street name on the red signage and I walked few meters on the left side to the narrow winding stairs going up to the courtyard with five-domed colonnade supported by columns.  The mosque is constructed on a terrace tucked away above rows of shops along the market street and it’s not immediately noticeable unless one climbs the stairs. 

Rustem Pasha Mosque is an ottoman imperial mosque designed by no less than the chief imperial architect Mimar Sinan for the son-in-law of Sultan Suleiman, the Grand Vizier Rustem Pasha husband of Princess Mihrimah.  The mosque was built after the death of Rustem Pasha in 1561.  

Inside the Rustem Pasha Mosque.

Beautiful chandelier inside the Rustem Pasha Mosque.

It's modestly constructed than most of the imposing and majestic works of Sinan plus the hidden setting adds to the humility.   But what made this one stand out is that the discreet street level appearance does not justify the opulence of its interior.  

It is probably the only mosque in Istanbul abundantly adorned with beautiful Iznik tiles from ceilings to walls, to the façade of the mosque along the arch-embellished porch.  Smaller than the nearby Yeni Cami but it exudes the same peaceful mood, particularly that afternoon I was there alone except for a couple of tourists who might have heard about it too, but who did stay only for a few minutes. 
Blue tiles at the portico.

I lingered for half an hour sitting at one of the corners marveling at the shiny red, white and blue tiles in various floral designs accentuated by geometric designs around it.  Like most imperial mosques, the income of the shops operating down and around the property supports the maintenance of the mosque.

Market around the Rustem Pasha Mosque.

I then walked back to the plaza of the Yeni Mosque to visit the Egyptian Bazaar which is just beside it.

Address: Hasircilar Carsisi, Tahtakale Mahallesi, Eminonu, Istanbul

Directions: Cross the vast plaza in front of Yeni Mosque and turn left on the first narrow street (Uzuncarsi).


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