This 16th century mosque is one of my favorite mosques in Istanbul. I love its intimate size and what I call its frilly details – the detailed carvings that decorate its edges. There is something feminine about it and to me, it is very pretty.
Constructed in 1543, Sultan Suleyman had originally ordered the Şehzade mosque complex to be built for himself. However, when his favorite son Şehzade Mehmed suddenly died he dedicated the project to him and the name Şehzade was given to it.
It was designed by Mimar Sinan who is considered the greatest architect of the Ottoman Empire’s architectural heritage. Şehzade Mosque was the final work of his apprenticeship and the first of the grand sultanic mosques designed by him.
Sinan was born in the year 1490 and at age 22, Sinan was recruited into the Corps of Ottoman Standing Troops (Janissary). During this military tour, he traveled widely throughout the empire visiting Baghdad, Damascus, Persia, and Egypt.
“I saw the monuments, the great ancient remains. From every ruin I learned, from every building I absorbed something.”MIMAR SINAN
By mid-life Sinan had become a valued military engineer. This brought him to the attention of Sultan Suleyman who appointed him head of the office of royal architects in 1537.
Şehzade Mosque is considered one of his first masterpieces. His rising reputation as a royal architect caused an unprecedented building boom that created the iconic Istanbul skyline that we associate with the city’s image today.
Despite its unique history, impressive architecture and tombs the Şehzade Mosque remains relatively unknown among tourists. This makes it a pleasant place to visit at any time of the day.