We’re continuing our tour of Istanbul, with a visit to the newly refurbished mosque at Süleymaniye.


When we last visited the Süleymaniye over two years ago it was heavily scaffolded and undergoing major restoration.  On Tuesday 16th November this year, the first day of Kurban Bayram, the Prime Minister officially re-opened the refurbished mosque.  Istanbul was full of billboards advertising this event and inviting all and sundry to attend and ‘share breakfast with Recep Tayıp Erdoğan’.  We decided to wait and go the next day.  This is the front of the newly cleaned mosque building.

And this is the view the Prime Minister didn’t get, round the back.

discarded scaffolding poles
Mountains of discarded blue scaffold poles clearly removed at the last minute and thrown in the garden at the back of the mosque.


The Süleymaniye is the grandest külliye, or mosque complex, still in existence.  Designed and built by Sinan in 1551-56 it comprises the mosque, various medrese or religious schools, a hamam, a library, a soup kitchen, a hospital and sundry buildings the function of which would seem to be obscure.


Originally the mosque was lit with oil lamps and candles and, to cope with the problem of staining from soot and smoke, apparently Sinan designed the building so that air flows removed smoke and soot in one direction which eventually led to the ‘soot room’ over the main entrance.  There the soot was collected and made into ink. How’s that for a wonderful solution to a big problem!