Mosque of Rustem Pasha, Istabul

Plonked in the middle of the busy Tahtakale district, this little-visited mosque is a gem. Built in 1560 by Sinan for Rüstem Pa?a, son-in-law and grand vizier of Süleyman the Magnificent, it is a showpiece of the best Ottoman architecture and tilework, albeit on a small scale. It is thought to have been the prototype for Sinan’s greatest work, the Selimiye in Edirne. At the top of the two sets of entry steps there is a terrace and the mosque’s colonnaded porch. You’ll notice at once the panels of ?znik faïence set into the mosque’s facade.

The interior is covered in similarly gorgeous tiles and features a lovely dome, supported by four tiled pillars. The preponderance of tiles was Rüstem Pa?a’s way of signalling his wealth and influence – ?znik tiles being particularly expensive and desirable. It may not have assisted his passage into the higher realm, though, because by all accounts he was a loathsome character. His contemporaries dubbed him Kehle-i-Ikbal (the Louse of Fortune) because he was found to be infected with lice on the eve of his marriage to Mihrimah, Süleyman’s favourite daughter. He is best remembered for plotting with Roxelana to turn Süleyman against his favourite son, Mustafa. They were successful and Mustafa was strangled in 1553 on his father’s orders. The mosque is easy to miss because it’s not at street level. There’s a set of access stairs on Has?rc?lar Caddesi and another on the small street that runs right (north) off Has?rc?lar Caddesi to the Golden Horn.

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