In Istanbul there are two mosques dedicated to the Ottoman Sultan Süleyman‘s daughter, Mihrimah – one in Üsküdar and the other in Edirnekapı.
Love Made Me Do It
When Mihrimah turned 17 she had two powerful men in love with her, one in a political position and the other being Mimar Sinan – who mind you was 50 years older than her and already married. Mihrimah chose option one and her father, Sultan Süleyman, commissioned Mimar Sinan in 1546 to build the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, a mosque to honor his only daughter. It was completed in 1548 and still exists today in Üsküdar, prominently located across from the ferry port along the Sea of Marmara.
However, Mimar Sinan still madly in love, decided to build another mosque, without being commissioned, on the European side on one of the highest of the seven hills of Constantinople – this with the same name, Mihrimah Sultan Mosque was built in Edirnekapı. Compared to the mosque in Üsküdar which has two minarets, this only has one minaret and is believed to symbolize her loneliness.
Yes, two mosques, different locations, same architect, same name, but one was commissioned and one was designed out of love.
Moon & Sun
I read a rather interesting theory that I have not yet tested. On March 21 the equinox occurs, making day and night approximately the same duration, and marking the beginning of spring and the end of winter. Supposedly on this day, as the sun sets behind the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in Edirnekapı, the moon rises over the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in Üsküdar. Interesting enough, that day also marks her birthday and it’s said that Mihramah’s name contains the Persian words for ‘sun’ and ‘moon’.
For me this is one of the most beautiful mosques I’ve visited. The interior is flooded with light with over 150+ windows and the stained glass are covered with the most beautiful array of colors.
Keep in mind when visiting a (working) mosque to be respectful.
When to visit:
Unless you are coming to pray, avoid visiting a mosque during prayer time. Prayer occurs five times a day, and every day the time slightly changes as the days grow longer or shorter. Check ahead and be sure to avoid visiting within 30 minutes after the call to prayer and from noon to late afternoon on Friday.
What to wear:
For both men and women the following is preferred. Tops should have sleeves at least elbow-length or longer and shoulders must be covered. Pants, skirts or dresses should end at least below the knees. Women will need to wear a headscarf to cover their hair. If you don’t have a scarf on hand, a scarf will be provided to you upon entering. Before you enter the mosque you will need to remove your shoes (bags are provided for carrying, since you will exit through a different door).
How to act:
Speak quietly, move slowly and be respectful of worshippers. If you take photos don’t use the flash and avoid taking photos of worshippers.
Also to note, the entrance to mosques are free.