Monday, October 20, 2014

Finding Süleymaniye Cami.


My original itinerary for today had us visiting Süleymaniye Cami as the first thing we would. By noon, we had yet to make it there. I was determined to go as this is one place in Istanbul that I have never been to. So, after we got Yeni Camii, the Plant and Pet Markets, and the Spice Bazaar out of the way, it was time to go to Süleymaniye.


Before we left the area around the Spice Bazaar, I warned Bro that we would walking through a very commercial part of town that would be mobbed with local shoppers.



Bro is always in charge of navigating us about so with map in hand, he led the way. Of course, the only map we had was the pullout that came with my Lonely Planet guidebook for Istanbul. It had the major streets indicated but was clearly missing some of the smaller ones. Süleymaniye Cami sits high atop the hill in the Fatih neighborhood of Istanbul.  From the water (aka the Golden Horn), you can easily spot it.  In theory, if we just walked uphill, in a direction parallel to the Golden Horn, we would eventually *bump* in to the mosque.  But, that is in theory.  When you're on ground level, you can't see the mosque so finding it in the maze of streets was a challenge.  I was prepared to get lost and indeed, we wandered and that was okay.  It gave us the opportunity to really explore the area.  Every now and again, I would approach a local for directions by simply asking, "Süleymaniye Cami?".  Inevitably, the response was a finger pointing in the direction we were suppose to head.

Pomegranate juice break.  2TL for a small plastic cup's worth.

We walked about for what felt like an eternity and there was still no mosque in sight. So, you can imagine how excited I was when this large minaret came into view!  It didn't look like the ones I had seen in photos but we didn't know so we approached it.  Alas, it was not Süleymaniye; it was just a statue of sorts.


We were lost.  We were in a nice park so Bro decided to take seat to take a closer look at the map.  In the meantime, I noticed that the world going by looked like university students and teachers.  Ha!  I put two and two together and told Bro that we were likely on the grounds of Istanbul University and if my memory served me correctly, Süleymaniye was nearby. Bro took my words and basically figured out where we were on the map. 


He could now take us to the mosque!


It was really a very short walk from where we sat to our first views of the mosque.


A stone wall separated us from the mosque which was located a level below us.  Now, how to get to the place?



We noticed a set of steps that lead down to the street level.  We guessed that was the way to go.  As we walked past the mosque, we caught sight of the Golden Horn.  It was gorgeous day to be out and about exploring Istanbul!


Indeed the steps took us down to street level.  We walked in the direction of the mosque.


We entered through an arched entry that first took us to the mosque's cemetery.


Süleyman the Magnificent and members of his family and court are buried here.


There were about three mausoleums and we could peek inside one of them.  I didn't see a sign indicating who was buried there but my guess is that it's Süleyman and his family.  After all, this is his mosque so it would make sense to let us see his and his family's tombs....even if it's just from a distance.




The cemetery adjoins the mosque.  We walked over and entered in.  A magnificent courtyard befitting a sultan.






Seconds after we set foot inside the courtyard, the call to prayer was sounded out.  Not good news for tourists as that meant the place would be closed for prayer.  



If only we had arrived 10 minutes earlier!  Grr....we had no choice but to leave and come back later.   Patience.  I will see this place before I leave Istanbul....if it kills me.

So what now?  Rüstem Paşa Cami.  I brave myself to be plunged back in to the mob scene of local shoppers.