Looking for the most famous mosques in Istanbul? Here are 12 jaw-droppingly beautiful mosques you can’t overlook when planning your trip to Istanbul.
While most mosques in Istanbul are special in some way, believe me when I say: you need to prioritise which ones you visit because there are over 3,000 mosques in Istanbul!
That’s right. You’ve got a lot to choose from, but there are a few that stand out and are absolutely worth going out of your way to see.
Some date back to the 4th century A.D, some are made with world-known blue tiles, and others are just beautiful.
Here are 12 of the most famous mosques in Istanbul that are my favourites and worth including on your Istanbul itinerary.
Map of the famous mosques in Istanbul
Below, you’ll find a map of the mosques mentioned in this post. Use the map by clicking the + and – sign to zoom in and out.
Famous mosques in Istanbul
Istanbul has more than 3,000 mosques
Turkey has 82,693 mosques according to the Religious Affairs Directorate, and Istanbul, the country’s largest city, is home to the majority of them.
Istanbul has 3,113 mosques, making it one of the most mosque-dense cities in the world.
Many of these mosques were built centuries ago and are still actively used today. Even if you’re not a practicing Muslim, visiting these beautiful mosques is an experience that will stay with you.
🕌 Some of the mosques are massive. The Çamlıca Mosque, which is the largest mosque in Istanbul, can accommodate 63,000 people at the same time.
Prayer times in Istanbul
The mosques in Istanbul have different opening hours, but there’s one thing they all have in common: Prayer times.
All mosque doors close three times a day for a period of 90 minutes for prayer, and tourists are not allowed to enter during this period.
Prayer times are pegged to sunrise and sunset and change daily as the days grow longer or shorter. You can check prayer times here.
Fridays and Ramadan
Fridays are typically not the best time to visit Istanbul mosques. From late morning through early afternoon, weekly group prayers and sermons are held – it’s best to plan your visit for another time.
Ramadan: You can still visit during Ramadan although some parts of the mosques may be closed off at this time.
What to wear to a mosque in Istanbul
A mosque is an active place of worship so you’re required to dress modestly.
This means that both men and women should wear loose-fitting clothing that covers their arms and legs. Avoid wearing shorts or sleeveless shirts.
🧕 If you’re a woman, you should wear a head scarf as a sign of respect, though not all mosques require it. If you forget to bring one, don’t worry, most mosques have extras. You can wear makeup, and children up to 12 years can dress however they want.
Before entering the prayer area, you will be required to take your shoes off, so make sure you wear clean socks or stockings. Most mosques have a shoe rack or room near the entrance where you can store your personal belongings securely.
🕌 12 most famous mosques in Istanbul
Istanbul has a lot of beautiful mosques, but here are the top 12 most famous and architecturally significant mosques in Istanbul:
1. Hagia Sophia Mosque
Let’s begin with the most important mosque in Istanbul: the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque.
Originally built as a Christian church in 537, Hagia Sophia was later converted into a mosque in the 15th century, then back to a church, and in 2020, the site once again became a mosque. Its unique architectural style blends both Byzantine and Ottoman elements.
The mosque is located in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul and is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. It’s a must-visit in Istanbul and if you visit only one mosque in Istanbul, let Hagia Sophia be it!
2. The Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet mosque)
The Blue Mosque, also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is another iconic mosque in Istanbul. You’ve probably already heard of it or seen photos – it’s one of the most beautiful mosques with its blue iznik tiles.
Built in the early 17th century, it features intricate tile-work, stained glass windows, and a distinctive profile with six minarets. The mosque is located in the Sultanahmet district close to Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace.
☪️ Since 2015, the Blue Mosque has been undergoing an ongoing restoration process with different parts of the mosque closing at various times.
On January 1, 2023, it was completely closed for 3 months in order to speed up the restoration process. It’s set to fully open in 2024.
3. Süleymaniye Mosque
The Süleymaniye Mosque is one of the best mosques and examples of Ottoman architecture in the city of Istanbul.
Built in the 16th century by the famous architect Sinan, it features a large dome, four minarets, and beautiful tilework.
The mosque is located in the historic district of Fatih and is known for its stunning panoramic views of the city and the Bosphorus strait.
4. New Mosque (Yeni Cami)
The New Mosque, also known as the Yeni Camii, is another stunning example of Ottoman architecture. It was built in 1597 and features intricate tile-work, stained glass windows, and a large courtyard.
The mosque is located in the Eminönü district and is free to enter.
5. Rüstem Pasha Mosque
The Rustem Pasha Mosque is a hidden gem located in the heart of Istanbul’s historic district, just by the Spice Bazaar. We almost didn’t find the entrance so make sure to look closely or use this map.
Built in the 16th century, it features blue tilework by the famous Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. It’s small, but very beautiful.
6. Fatih Mosque
The Fatih Mosque, also known as the Conqueror’s Mosque, was built in the 15th century by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II.
It is located in the Fatih district of Istanbul and features a large courtyard, beautiful tilework, and a large dome.
7. Ortaköy Mosque
The Ortaköy Mosque is a picturesque mosque located on the Bosphorus shore in Istanbul’s Ortaköy neighborhood. This is one of the most important mosques in Istanbul – one you’ve probably seen on a postcard – it’s that pretty.
Built in 1854, it features a unique blend of Baroque and Neo-Classical architectural styles. It’s different from other mosques of the period by its particularly ornate stone-carved decoration.
The Ortakoy mosque is a popular spot for both locals and tourists, especially at sunrise and sunset.
8. Şehzade Mosque
The Sehzade Mosque (Šāhzādeh, meaning “prince”) is another stunning example of Ottoman architecture. Built in the 16th century, it features a large dome, four minarets, and intricate tilework. It’s known for its peaceful courtyard.
You’ll find the mosque in the Fatih district, on the third hill of Istanbul.
9. Eyüp Sultan Mosque
The Eyup Sultan Mosque is a significant mosque in Istanbul as it houses the tomb of Eyüp Sultan, a friend and companion of the Prophet Muhammad.
Built in 1458 and rebuilt in 1800, it’s located in the Eyüp district of Istanbul. The mosque is a popular place of pilgrimage for Muslims from around the world because it holds relics believed to have belonged to the Prophet.
10. Mihrimah Sultan Mosque
A lesser known but beautiful mosque is the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque.
Built in the 16th century, it was designed by the famous Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan and features excuisite tilework and stained glass windows. It’s located in the Edirnekapı district of Istanbul.
11. Nuruosmaniye mosque
The Nuruosmaniye mosque was built around 1748 and it’s a beautiful example of the Ottoman style and architecture.
The prayer hall is completely covered with the dome, which is one of the largest domes in Istanbul. The unique polygonal rear courtyard is also remarkable, so make sure to spend some time exploring the exterior.
12. Çamlıca Mosque
If you’re looking for a unique experience during your visit to Istanbul, consider visiting the newly opened Çamlıca mosque.
This Mosque was designed by two female architects, inspired by classical Ottoman architecture, and has an art gallery, library, childcare spaces and conference halls.
With six minarets representing the six articles of Islamic faith, it’s now the largest mosque in Istanbul and can even be seen from the Suleymaniye Mosque!
🌙 FAQ about mosques in Istanbul
What should I wear when visiting a mosque?
You should dress conservatively and modestly when visiting a mosque. Clothes should cover your shoulders, chest, and legs. Avoid clothing that is tight or revealing. Women should wear a head scarf.
Does it cost anything to visit a mosque in Istanbul?
No. Visiting the major Turkish mosques is free, although donations for mosque upkeep are gratefully accepted.
Do I need to cover my head when visiting a mosque?
Yes. It’s best to be prepared by bringing a scarf as a sign of respect.
Can I wear shoes inside the mosque?
No, shoes are not allowed inside the mosque. You can leave your shoes outside in the designated area or put them in your bag. That’s what I usually do.
Do I need to perform any religious rituals when visiting a mosque?
No, you are not required to perform any religious rituals when visiting a mosque. You can simply visit and enjoy the mosque’s beauty and tranquility.
Can non-Muslims pray inside a mosque?
Non-Muslims are generally not allowed to pray inside a mosque, but you can still observe and appreciate the beauty of the space.
Are there any restrictions on who can enter a mosque?
Mosques are open to people of all faiths and cultures. However, it’s best to check the mosque’s website or call ahead to confirm any restrictions.
Can I take photos inside a mosque?
It depends on the mosque. Some mosques may allow photography, while others may prohibit it. The major mosques allow photography, but in smaller mosques it’s best to ask a staff member or guide before taking any photos.
What should I do if I have questions or need help during my visit to a mosque?
If you have any questions or need help during your visit, find a staff member who can assist you. They will be happy to answer any of your questions.
Can I bring food and drink inside a mosque?
No, food and drink are not allowed inside the mosque.
Do I need to speak Arabic or know Islamic customs to visit a mosque?
No, you don’t need to speak Arabic or know Islamic customs to visit a mosque. However, it’s important to be respectful and mindful of the customs and traditions of the mosque.
Can I visit the mosques in Istanbul as a tourist during Ramadan?
Yes, you can visit the mosques in Istanbul during Ramadan.
To make sure you get to experience all that the mosques have to offer, remember to visit outside prayer times – some parts may be closed off at this time.
Also, bear in mind that many shops and restaurants in Istanbul are closed during the Ramadan.
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