This time we move from the back streets to Eminonu and across the Golden Horn.
Well, the last episode had you all wandering down through the back streets from the Grand Bazaar to Eminonu at the bottom. When you get there you’ll see the imposing Yeni Camii or New Mosque which was built by the mothers of two sultans. Construction started in 1600 for the mother of Mehmet III, but halted in 1603 when he died and she lost her power and wealth. The half finished mosque stood desolate until 1660 when building resumed under Turhan Hadice the mother of Mehmet IV who finally managed to complete the mosque in 1663.
At the back of the mosque, on the other side of the street from the main mosque building, there is a mausoleum which contains the sarcophagi of Turhan Hadice and her son, amongst others. Those readers who followed our recent series on the sultans will remember the practise of killing all brothers of a sultan when he mounted the throne, to remove the possibility of rival claims. The adult sarcophagi in this mausoleum are surrounded by a host of smaller children’s coffins, which are a fitting reminder of this gruesome ritual.
Leave the mausoleum, turn and left and a few paces bring you to the entrance to the Egyptian or Spice Bazaar. On this visit Fethiye Times, sated from an extended visit to the Grand Bazaar earlier in the day, gave the Spice Bazaar a miss (we’ll write it up on our next trip to Istanbul). However if you stand facing the entrance to the Spice Bazaar and look left to the far corner of the open square you will see the dome and minaret of Rüstem Paşa Camii which is a ‘must see’ mosque.
Head for the dome via narrow back streets and you will find one of the most beautiful small mosques in Istanbul. It was designed and built by Sinan, the Christopher Wren of Turkey. Sinan lived to over ninety years of age and built countless mosques, hamams and other buildings in various places in Turkey. Rüstem Paşa was Süleyman the Magnificent’s grand vezir (think prime minister) and also married Süleyman’s only daughter, Mihrimah.
The mosque was completed in 1561 and is famous for its exquisite Iznik tiles. It is also not on the main tourist trail so a good mosque to visit without jostling the crowds. Note the grandfather clock just inside the entrance which has ‘Edwd Prior – London’ inscribed on its face. This is one of a whole boatload of such clocks sent as a gift by Queen Victoria and, despite being made in London, they have Arabic numerals as those were is use in the Ottoman Empire at the time. The clocks were valued for their accurate time keeping and were placed in mosques to ensure the call to prayer happened at the right time.
On leaving Rüstem Paşa Camii you should carefully cross the main road and head for the bridge that takes you across the Golden Horn.