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Istanbul Ottoman Architecture Tour

Learn about mosque architecture through time with a expert guide
From US$335 privately
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Tour Details
3 hours
Product Type
  • Sehzade Camii
  • Suleymaniye Camii
  • Rustem Pasha Camii
Photos & Highlights
  • Explore what makes up Istanbul's lively skyline complete with some of the world's most beautiful mosques
  • Led by an expert or architect
Tour Description
The curve of mosque domes and the punctuation of minarets enliven Istanbul’s skyline. Glistening gray along the Bosphorus, many of the most impressive mosques in the city were designed by one man: Mimar Sinan. His still-stunning structures provide a key to understanding Islam, Ottoman architecture, and the Golden Age of an empire. Led by an architect or historian, this Istanbul Architecture Tour explores the history and significance of Sinan’s masterpieces, providing a frame through which to better understand the history of the city itself.

Istanbul Mosque Tour

Our walk begins with the mosque complex of the Sehzade Camii. Here we'll discuss the role of Islam in architecture and the basic components of mosques and their decoration. We'll consider the motif and design of the buildings themselves, explore the interior of the mosque and its gardens, and spend time laying the groundwork for visually understanding Islamic architecture. We'll also examine how palace politics and an expanding empire impacted the urban fabric of this vibrant city.

For more on palace politics, try our Topkapi Palace Tour.

The Envy Of The World

We’ll move on to Suleymaniye Mosque, widely considered to be Mimar Sinan’s most impressive in the city. The sprawling complex contains many fascinating buildings, including the mausoleum of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. This will give us a chance to discuss the figure of Suleyman and the ways in which Istanbul was transformed during this period into the envy of the world. From there, we will move on to a third mosque, Rustem Pasha Camii Mosque, and explore exquisite Iznik tilework. This affords us an opportunity to discuss the politics, propaganda, and empire-building of this crucial period in Ottoman history.

To see another stunning mosque initially constructed as a cathedral, try our Hagia Sophia Tour.

Note: These mosques are all functioning holy sites. When entering a mosque we will be required to remove our shoes. As well, we may be interrupted during our walk by a call to prayer, which will provide an interesting example of the continued function of these magnificent spaces. Participants should wear long trousers or skirts, as shorts and short skirts are considered inappropriate in mosques. We also recommend that female participants bring some hair covering that can be employed inside mosques but removed when walking from one to the other. A lightweight scarf is perfect for this. For more, see our guide on how to visit a mosque.


Is there a dress code for your tours in Istanbul?
Yes, sites visited on this tour are considered holy places. Shoulders and knees must be covered. Dresses and shorts must be below knee level, and shoulders must be covered (zip-on jackets or scarves are acceptable). We recommend bringing along scarves or shawls to be able to cover those body parts.
These rules may seem unduly strict, but remember, you are a guest visiting sites regarded as religious sanctuaries.

Is this tour suitable for children? This tour isn’t part of our official family program, however, we can assign a family-friendly guide for family tours. Families may prefer to book our Topkapi Palace Tour for Kids, which has been specifically designed to engage younger learners.

Is this tour suitable for visitors with mobility issues? When it comes to mobility issues, this experience is not walking intensive but between the Suleymaniye and Rustem Pasha Camii mosques, it’s downhill on a narrow and crowded street. We recommend that clients with mobility issues contact us so we can create a tour adapted to your concerns.
Where You'll Start
62 Reviews (4.61)

Reviews can only be left by Context customers after they have completed a tour. For more information about our reviews, please see our FAQ.

Delightful introduction to the mosques of Istanbul! Our guide Melike was superb—friendly and very knowledgeable.
Suleyman was excellent- clear, concise, knowledgeable, entertaining and very helpful.
Ebru was very knowledgeable, courteous, and articulate. She gave us a wonderful tour striking the right balance between history and architecture.