Places of Worship in Istanbul

İstanbul is unique, as it has been the Capital city of empires that were also seats of religion. Today, too, İstanbul continues to reflect is religious character and there are many place of worship of various religious beliefs that are active. The Ottomans ruled for five centuries, İstanbul was not only the seat of their Empire, but also the seat of the Caliphate of İslam, The Ottomans built beautiful mosques throughout the Empire, but the mosques of İstanbul are very special indeed, İstanbul (especially the old city around Sultanahmet) seems to almost be an open-air museum of spectacular architecture. Here we only list a handful of the famous mosques. We strongly suggest that those interested in visiting many of the most beautiful of the mosques either purchase a complete guide book or sign up for a guided tour.
Please remember that all visitors to a mosque must be dressed modestly. Shorts are not allowed for either males or females. Women should cover their arms and heads. Shoes are removed before entering so it is a good idea to be wearing socks. Money is never charged, but members of the mosque community may hope for a donation to their upkeep fund. Keep the conversation low and do not walk in front of those who are praying. Do not try to tour a mosque during scheduled prayer times.

Suleymaniye Mosque
This is the beautiful, imperial mosque built by Sultan Süleyman the Great (1520-1556), called the “lawgiver” by the Turks. This mosque, the largest in İstanbul, is considered by all to be the finest work of the architect Sinan. This mosque is exquisite in its overriding simplicity, decorated only with fine examples of İznik (Nicaean) tiles and stain-glass windows. The mosque is located directly behind İstanbul University.

Beyazıt Mosque
This mosque is part of the Beyazit “külliyesi,” a complex of buildings built for charitable purposes by Sultan Beyazit II during 1500- 1505. This mosque is famous for the site is occupies, its architecture, and ornamentation and for the role it plays in the larger complex consisting of the mosque, tomb, soup kitchen, primary school, higher education institutions, bath, and caravanserai.

Eyüp Mosque
Eyüp Ensari was the Standard bearer for the Prophet Mohammed and he fell at this spot along the Golden Horn while carrying the Banner of İslam for the Arab assault and siege in 674-678. His mosque and tomb are located at the place where he died and this complex is very sacred for Moslems, and was even venerated as a holy place by the Byzantines before the Turks arrived. The original mosque over the tomb was built by Mehmet I the Conqueror, but this mosque was destroyed in an earthquake in 1766. Sultan Selim III built the current structure in 1800.

Sultan Ahmet Mosque (The Blue Mosque)
This beautiful mosque (the only mosque in Turkey with six minarets) was built by Sultan Ahmet I (1603-17) to both mirror and rival the Hagia Sophia built by the Byzantines and is situated in Sultanahmet Square. Both the exterior and the interior (flooded by blue light from the stain glass windows) are simply breathtaking. Because so many tourists visit the mosque, a side door was set aside for tourists who are designated one part of the mosque for touristic purposes, while the rest of the mosque is set aside for worshipers. Enter through the main door if you come to pray.

Nur-ı Osmaniye Mosque
This famous mosque stands near the back entrance of the Grand Covered Bazaar, İt was built by commission of Sultan Mahmud I in 1755 and designed by Architect Simeon. This mosque is part of a “külliye” complex that includes the mosque, soup kitchen, university, library, tomb, fountain and shops. This mosque is quite different from other mosques built during that building. One of its unique features is that its mihrap (niche representing direction of prayer towards Mecca) is in a polygon shape.


Churches abound in İstanbul, the former Constantinople and seat of the Orthodox Christian Byzantine Empire. The Ottomans were tolerant rulers who allowed each of the major religions a kind of self-autonomous rule. The Patriarchy of the Greek Orthodox Church continues to reside in İstanbul. The cosmopolitan make-up of the city meant that various ethnic groups and sects all built churches. Many of these are very fine architecturally. We can only offer a very partial list here. If you are interested specifically in historic churches we suggest you seek out a guided tour for this purpose or purchase a good guidebook and set off to discover a very surprising world of Christian faith in this predominantly Moslem country.

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Saint Antoine
İstiklal Caddesi 325 Beyoğlu (a pleasant walk from either Taksim or the Tünel)

Sainte-Esprit Cathedrale
Cumhuriyet Caddesi 250/B Harbiye

Sainte-Marie Draperis
İstiklal Caddesi 429 Beyoğlu

Assyrian Catholic
There are several Assyrian churches in the city but the main church is the one in Gümüşsuyu, located a short walk behind the German Consulate.

Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchy
Fener District (along the Golden Horn). This complex has been the seat of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchy since 1600. A fire destroyed most of the original buildings in 1940 but the Church of St. George built in 1720 was spared.

Aya Triyada Church
Meşelik Sokak 11/1 Taksim
This is the huge church you see as you come into Taksim.

The seat of the Orthodox Armenian Church in Turkey is located in Kumkapı near the old city along the Sea of Marmara.
There are many, many Armenian Orthodox, Gregorian, and Catholic Churches that can be found throughout the city.

Hope International Church

Union Church of İstanbul
(International Interdenominational)
Postacılar Sok. No. 4
Just off of İstiklal near Tünel end

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