Mosque Design

Five Top Mosques To See In Istanbul

Istanbul has over 300 mosques. During my Istanbul Art Trip, I managed to visit five in the city. I was only in that part of town for a week before I ventured to the Asian side and saw the beautiful mosques of Uskudar

5- (Sultan Ahmet) Blue Mosque

This is one of the most obvious mosque options because it's right there in the centre. Prepare yourself to see masses of people 

4- Aya Sophia

The same crowdedness applies to this one too. It is really interesting to see the old Christian art along side the Islamic one. I felt that is what diversity is all about. 

3- Sokullu Sehit Mehmet Pasa Camii

This one is right in front of the Istanbul Design Centre, where I did my Istanbul Art course. I also lived facing it in a really cute little hotel called Oba Hotel. It was a very nice mosque. Peaceful and absolutely gorgeous inside. 

2- Rustum Pasa Camii

The tiles were interesting in this one. It's actually known for its Iznik tiles. There is a book stand in the courtyard that sells books about the tiles found in there. We had to walk through a very busy market to get to it. It was distracting to look at the market stalls, but we got there. We did a little drawing session there as well, which was really nice. 

1- Sulymania Camii -top pick-

Very grand and stunning inside and outside. I liked the view of Istanbul from there. If you don't have time to go to all five, I would recommend this one over the rest. 

More Posts from Istanbul:

Mosques of Uskudar

Uskudar is a quick ferry ride away from Istanbul. I wasn't even planning to go, but I happened to find myself in the area and I though it will be a shame not to discover the area. I did a quick google maps search on what's around and I followed the path. It was heavily raining when I was there last Fall, but I kept going. There was something nice about rain and mosque architecture. I was drenched, but life in London has prepared me to face any amount of rain. What I enjoyed the most was that I was the only tourist in that whole area. It was great to wander around picking the best angles and to sit around without interruptions. If you are a lover of Islamic Turkish architecture then make sure to include this little gem in your program. 

Ps. the word Camii is pronounced jami'e, which means mosque. 

The order of the photos is the same order I followed during my visit. 

Mihrimah Sultan Camii

This mosque was opposite to the harbour and easy to spot when you get off. "It was designed by Mimar Sinan and built between 1546 and 1548. It is a massive structure on a raised platform and already shows several hallmarks of Sinan's mature style" (Üsküdar Belediyesi, 2016). 

Uskudar Camii

I should have started with this one because that was even closer to the ferry drop off point. It's across the street from Mihrimah Sultan Camii. I met the nicest old man there who was so excited to tell me all about the place. It was SUPER tiny and the style is repeated, so you can skip this one if you are in a rush, but I liked it.  

Yeni Valide Camii (1700)

What struck me about this mosque were the dark coloured interior of red, black and green.  

Ps. Yeni means new and below you will see the older copy of this mosque.  

Aziz Mahmday Efendi Hazretleri Camii

My Islamic Illumination teacher Dilara Yarci told me about this one. Just hearing her talk about this little shrine made me want to come see it for myself. People come here with so many wishes and hopes and they ask Aziz Mahmday Efendi Hazret to ask God for those wishes as a medium because of his holy status, which is similar to saint like. I actually haven't heard of him before, but he is a big deal in the Turkish culture it seems. It is a really tiny place as well. I didn't actually go inside the mosque because I wanted to make it to the other ones before dark. 

Atik Valide Camii (1570)

Ps. Atik means old. 

I think this was my favourite mosque in Uskudar. I liked the spacious courtyard outside and the interior tiles and details. It was a trek getting there on foot. It was hilly. Actually the further I walked, the more hilly the town got. It might be easier to go there by taxi. I wanted to return by taxi after this one, but I could not find one and just had to walk back which was about 40mins from the harbour where I needed to be back. 

References: 

  • Üsküdar Belediyesi. (2016). Mihrimah Sultan Mosque. [online] Available at: https://www.uskudar.bel.tr/en/main/pages/mihrimah-sultan-mosque/315 [Accessed 12 Jun. 2016].

More Posts from Istanbul:

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is surly very grand. I have been wanting to go for a while. I am glad I finally got the chance. The white domes and arches reflecting on water from one side and on marble from the other are beautiful sights. I stayed there for two hours with my friends photographing everything. I mostly spent my time outside of the mosque. The interior design did not match the grandeur of the architecture sadly. The patterns, the colours and the fixtures used in the interior design were overwhelming and were lacking in taste, which is a shame because there is so much potential inside. The official website -SZGMC- says it is "Combining Mamluk, Ottoman and Fatimid styles" but I have studied those styles in my journey in Islamic Patterns and sadly I would have to disagree. The combination of the styles was not harmonious and felt very random. I am sorry to say this, but in some places the design was even tacky, especially the golden palm tree column topers. I wish that the architectural firm consulted Islamic pattern teachers and artists about patterns before making those unfortunate decisions. The interior space feels like an outer space bonanza rather than a spiritual sanctuary. The chandeliers especially look like spaceships. It actually feels like the interior design team made their decisions based on "they are rich arabs who lack sophistication let's give them big flashy space fillers". For the trained eye, the interior lacks some serious research. Regardless, the exterior is pleasing to the eye and the mosque is worth visiting. 

Granada's Mosque

Happy Friday beautiful people! 

For some reason, I love sharing Islamic related things on Fridays and I thought the Granada Mosque aka Mezquita De Granada will be perfect. What is unique about this mosque is that it is the first mosque in Granada after the Christine takeover 500 years ago. It is just wonderful having at least one mosque to support the Muslims in that area, who for the longest time could not practice comfortably. The design of it is simple yet functional and practical. The location of it is good as well because from that point you can see the mighty Alhambra and it makes that connection between past and present beautifully. 

Alhambra I, Structure

Alhambra Palace is the gem and highlight of Granada. Million visitors go there annually to admire the beauty of the architecture and the interior design. The name means red in Arabic and it is pronounced Alhamra without the B. It was used for the redness of the used materials.  The palace first started as a military area for it's unique location that was hard to get to in the 9th century (Alhambra.org, 2015). In the 13th century, King Mohammed ibn Yusuf ben Nasr turned it to his place of residency (Alhambra de Granada, 2015) . Some of the patterns in the Alhambra has his name carved in them. After the Christian takeover, Alhambra undergone few changes. It was abandoned in the 18th century . In the 19th century, it was considered as a heritage, protected site by the UNESCO. You can find more on the Alhambra history and details in the UNESCO website. 

It's so beautiful that one post is not enough to share all the things I saw, so there are few parts to this Alhambra post. I will start with the structure of the place. In the 14th century, three palaces were built: the Comares Palace, the Palace of the Lions, and the Partal Palace. The unique thing about Alhambra is the complex relationship between the structure and the interior space and how they intersect (Khan Academy,2015). More Architectural information and details could be found in the Khan Academy Website

After the first three photos, all the rest snaps are in the order of what I saw first.  

Resources: 
Alhambra.org,. 'Alhambra History'. N.p., 2015. Web. 7 Mar. 2015.
Alhambra de Granada,. 'Historical Introduction - History'. N.p., 2015. Web. 7 Mar. 2015.
Khan Academy,. 'Khan Academy'. N.p., 2015. Web. 7 Mar. 2015.

Mezquita Cathedral, Cordoba

Happy Thursday! 

Few months ago I went to Spain for the first time and discovered few beautiful places that I really liked. From today I will be sharing those places with you all. I kicked off my trip in Granada, but I went to Cordoba the next day, so I am starting the Spain travel series with it.  

Cordoba is a two hours drive from Granda and it is a lovely small city with lots of heritage. The highlight of it was the gorgeous grand mosque. It originally was The Visigothic Church of St Vincent, but the last Ummyad's ruler who fled after the Abbasid's call for power, Abd Al Rahman I, purchased it after he became the new ruler of Cordoba (Infoplease.com, 2015). He enlarged the mosque to cater for the growing Muslim population of the city. Then two major enlargements took place (English.turismodecordoba.org, 2015). Afterwards, the Christian conquest came and the Muslim era ended, where the mosque was turned into a Cathedral. Some parts of the mosque were sadly destroyed during adding the cathedral. The king of that time regretted it and said: ‘You have built what you or others might have built anywhere, but you have destroyed something that was unique in the world’ (Lonely Planet, 2015). 

The architecture and the interior design of the place are beautiful. The shadows and light were breathtaking in the space. I imagine that mix added to the spirituality of the mosque back in the day when Muslims were in it. The stripes painted on the arches reminded me of the ones in Prophet Mohammad's mosque in Madinah, Peace Upon him and his household. 

It was funny, when I was about to enter, the guard told me that I wasn't allowed to pray inside not like I was planning to, but I found it interesting that he had the need to tell me and not tell others.  

Overall, I enjoyed the visit and all the history within. It was a great example of interfaith design and architecture  minus all the tragedies that happened in that point of history.  

Resources: 
  • Infoplease.com, (2015). Abd ar-Rahman I, emir of Córdoba. [online] Available at: http://www.infoplease.com/encyclopedia/people/abd-ar-rahman-i-emir-cordoba.html [Accessed 22 Jan. 2015]. 
  • LonelyPlanet.com, (2015). Mezquita - Lonely Planet. [online] Lonely Planet. Available at: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/spain/andalucia/cordoba/sights/religious/mezquita [Accessed 22 Jan. 2015].
  • English.turismodecordoba.org, (2015). Tourism of Cordoba - Muslim Cordoba. [online] Available at: http://english.turismodecordoba.org/muslim-cordoba.cfm [Accessed 22 Jan. 2015].

Sultan Qaboos's Grand Mosque

Happy Friday and Jummah Mubarkah!

For this Friday, I am sharing the lovely Sultan Qaboos's Grand Mosque with you all. It's located in the heart of Muscat and it's one of the places that I recommend visiting if you are in Muscat. The mosque could hold 20,000 worshipers in its huge 416, 000 SqM. The mosque also has a huge library that has over 20,000 books on Islam and other subjects (Omantourism.gov.om, 2014). I only found out about it after my visit, so I haven't been to it. If you are a muslim, I would advice you to go there for a prayer and go inside. If you are not a muslim, I am not sure if you are allowed to go into the prayer spaces, but you can wonder outside and enjoy the architectural details everyday except for Fridays as stated on the Oman Tourism website

In 1992, there was a design competition to design this mosque and the wining design was executed in six years (Archnet.org, 2014) by the renowned Iraqi architect Mohammed Saleh Makiya  and Quad Design. The mosque has five minarets each is 45m in hight with the fifth one that's double the hight of 91.5m. Those five minarets symbolise the five pillars of Islam (Archnet.org, 2014) and highlighting the most important one which is the oneness of God.    

The interiors are both simple and detailed tastefully. There are some pattern work and calligraphy but not as much as some historic mosques. Scroll down and enjoy the photos! 

A walk in the whole place with pictures will take under half an hour, but it's still worth a visit. 

Ps. The Arabic calligraphy that you see on top of the doors is called Thuluth script (Omantourism.gov.om, 2014).

For more things to do in muscat please check Ten Things To Do In Muscat

References: 

  • Archnet.org, (2014). Collections | Architect's Archives | Mohamed Makiya | Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque | Archnet. [online] Available at: http://archnet.org/collections/123/sites/4818 [Accessed 5 Dec. 2014].
  • Omantourism.gov.om, (2014). Travel to Oman, Visit Muscat through Oman Travel Guide for Sultanate of Oman Adventure - Ministry of Tourism, Sultanate of Oman. [online] Available at: http://www.omantourism.gov.om [Accessed 5 Dec. 2014].