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Mosque Structure and What to Look for inside the Mosque

When you visit Istanbul it is inevitable that you will hear the call for prayer five times a day. The minarets of the mosques all around the city are equipped with loudspeakers to invite and remind the community that it’s time for prayer. During your stay you are also most likely to visit one or more mosques [1] such as the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii) or my personal favorite, the Süleymaniye Mosque. In this article I’ll explain the structural details of the mosques so you know what to look for.

The Ebul Menucehr or Ani mosque in Kars, Turkey. [2]

The Ebul Menucehr or Ani mosque.

Arrival of Mosques

After the 1071 Selçuk (Seljuk) victory over the Byzantine Empire at the Battle of Manzikert, the conquest of Anatolia by Oghuz clans began. As they started settling in present-day Turkey, the first Turkish made mosque (Ebul Menucehr Mosque) was built in Ani, Kars. This architecture style reflects the Seljuks, which is quite different than the ones you will see in Istanbul.

Most of the mosques you will see in Istanbul were built during the Ottoman Empire and the Ottoman architecture can be defined as a synthesis of Mediterranean and Middle East architecture conventions. Regardless the variety of the time, the need, the technology to build, all Ottoman architecture had one thing in common: mosques were surrounded by social foundations (külliye) or a complex of buildings adjacent to them. Mosques and their surrounding buildings were frequently built on the lands ruled by the Ottomans.

Buildings around a Mosque

Typically the following buildings accompanied mosques:

Süleymaniye Mosque and its surrounding buildings in Istanbul, Turkey. [3]

Süleymaniye Mosque and its surrounding buildings.

What to look for inside a Mosque

The mosque is mostly in the center of all the above mentioned buildings. Around or inside the mosque, you should try to locate the following details:

Courtyard (avlu) and ablution fountain (şadırvan) of a mosque in Istanbul, Turkey [4]

Courtyard (avlu) and ablution fountain (şadırvan).

Photo Sources [1 [8]] [2] [3 [9]] [4 [10]] [5 [11]] [6 [12]]

[13] [14]