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Fatih - Fatih Mosque and Yavuz Selim Mosque

Fatih - Fatih Mosque and Yavuz Selim Mosque
Fatih, meaning “the Conqueror” is a conservative Islamic area, though not intolerant to others of different religions and cultural beliefs or to visiting tourists.  However, you may be aware of more covered women, some wearing full chador along with headscarf wearers and men with long white beards than can be seen in other parts of Istanbul.  To avoid offending the local people it is best not to expose naked limbs or take photographs of people without their permission.

Fatih Mosque

Building began on the mosque 10 years after the conquest of Istanbul in 1463 and was completed in 1470.  Fatih Camii or “Mosque of the Conqueror” was almost destroyed in an earthquake in 1766 with only the courtyard, entrance portal, south wall of the graveyard and bases of the minarets surviving.

The rest of the mosque has been rebuilt.  The outer precinct is large enough to accommodate the tents of a caravan, is enclosed by a wall north to south housing the medrese (theological academy) buildings that were the first Ottoman university.  

The inner courtyard is one of the most beautiful in Istanbul with its Verd antique and porphyry columns supporting the dome portico and 18th century fountain surrounded by four huge poplar trees.  There is an inscription over the mosque portal recording the date and dedication of the mosque with the architects name; Atık Sinan who was supposed to have been executed one year after its completion on order of Mehmet because the dome was not a large as that of Hagia Sophia .  Although the interior of the mosque has no tiles and is quite dull, it is constantly busy being used for prayer, a social meeting place and centre for studying the Koran by both men and women.  

To the east of the mosque are the tombs of Mehmet II and one of his wives Gülbahar.

Yavuz Selim Mosque

Yavuz Selim Mosque also known as Selimiye Mosque built on one of Istanbul’s seven hills has one of the most imposing façades in the city by being erected next to the Cistern of Aspar , an open cistern, one of three, built during the 5th and 6th centuries.  For hundreds of years this area once housed a village and gardens and is now a park with tennis and basketball courts.  The date of the mosque is uncertain; it probably began in the reign of Selim the Grim (the dreary black exterior giving testament to a man known for such cruelty) and completed by Suleyman the Magnificent .  

It has a single large dome over a square room and a walled courtyard at the front but once inside what appeared to be a basic and reserved building is one of the most attractive of all imperial mosques.  Inside are columns of granite and marble, a portico floor paved with a floral design and a central fountain enclosed by tall cypress trees.  The early Ottoman domed rooms were used as a hostel for travelling dervishes and the sultans loge (tier) painted in delicate designs, as is usually seen on carpets and ceramics, is supported by columns made from different rare marbles.  Selim the Grim’s tomb retains two of its beautiful tiled panels although has lost its interior decoration.

There are also tombs, thought to be built by Sinan, of 4 of Suleyman’s children.  

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