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First mosques in Istanbul




First mosques in Istanbul & information about mosques

Did you know that one of the best mosques to visit in Istanbul, Arab Mosque located in Kalyon street in Karaköy is the first mosque in Istanbul?

First mosque in Istanbul: Arab Mosque

Here is the story of the Arab Mosque …

Constantinople was besieged by the Arab Army in 717 but they failed to conquer the city after a year’s battle but eventually they managed to seize Galata area and stayed there for 7 years. The Arab commander Mesleme Bin Abdülmelik ordered to build a mosque for his army and he made history as the first person to have ezan, call to prayer, sung in Istanbul. The army had to leave due to an uprising in Damascus and left the area back to the Byzantium forces.

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The mosque was then converted to a church by the Dominicians and the bell tower today was added to the building. After the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmet II the Conquerer in 1453, the church became a mosque again by order of Fatih Sultan Mehmet II the Conquerer. The mosque was called Arap Camii (Arab Mosque) because Arabs brought from Endülüs, Andalucia in Spain were located in this area.

Beside being the first mosque in Istanbul, Arap Camii is also an extraordinary mosque with its gothic-style and the minaret built as a bell tower during the fourth Crusade.

Address Tersane Cad. Arap Camii Mah. Mahkeme Sok. No:16 Karakoy, Beyoğlu

The first mosque on the Asian Side of Istanbul: Rum Mehmet Pasa Mosque

First mosques in Istanbul

Rum (Greek) Mehmet Paşa Camisi located in Semsi Pasa, near Üsküdar town center is the first Ottoman mosque built on the Asian side of Istanbul. The mosque built in 1471 by Rum Mehmet Pasa, who was of Greek origin, combines Byzantine and Ottoman architectural elements. Although the mosque was built as a complex (kulliye) with its imarethane, hamam etc, today you can only see the remains of the complex around the mosque.

Rum Mehmet Paşa was executed before the mosque was completed and buried in the tomb in the garden of the mosque. His relatives also buried in the same place after they passed away.

Adress Şemsi Paşa Cad. Eşref Saat Sok. Uskudar




Information About Mosques

The word mosque in Turkish is cami coming from the Arabic word cem meaning “gathering”.

Parts of a mosque

Parts of a mosque are;

  • Avlu Wide area in the entrance of the mosque, courtyard.
  • Gasilhane Place or room used to wash the corpse before funeral.
  • Kıble South, the direction of Mecca where Muslims turn in worship.
  • Kubbe Dome, sky, vault of heaven. Selimiye Camii in Edirne has the biggest dome.
  • Kürsü Raised, throne-like seat from which imams preache.
  • Mihrap Niche in a mosque wall indicating the direction of Mecca.
  • Minber Pulpit on the right of the mihrab reached by a long, straight flight of steps.
  • Musalla Taşı A marble within a mosque courtyard or garden where the funeral put for ceremony.
  • Şadırvan Fountain used for ritual ablutions and usually located in the middle of a mosque courtyard.
  • Türbe Large, usually domed tomb.

What is “Abdest”?

Abdest is the ritual ablution, the state of canonical purity. Muslims get washed before the namaz, pray. Therefore there are taps and fountains in the yard of mosques.Allah God in Arabic.

What is “Cuma (pray)”?

Cuma is Friday in Turkish. The word cuma comes from the Arabic word cem, cum’a (gathering). Friday is a holiday in Arab world when people gather in the mosques for Friday pray. It is quite possible to see İstanbullu spilled over out of mosques on the streets on Fridays.

What is “Ezan (call to pray)”?

Ezan, the azan is the call to prayer. The person who sings ezan is called müezzin. The words of ezan is as follows:

Allahu Ekber God is Great.
Eşhedü enla ilahe illallah I testify that there is no god but God.
Eşhedü enne Muhammeden resulullah I testify that Mohammed is His prophet.
Hayya ale’salah Come to pray.
Hayya alel-felah Come to salvation.
As-salatu hayrun mine’n nevm Namaz is more propitious than sleep.
Allahu Ekber God is Great.
La ilahe illallah There is no god but God.

Go to Sultanahmet Avenue early in the morning to listen to Ezan in the silence of the morning.

What is “Namaz?”

Ritual of worship centered in prayer in Islam. Namaz is performed five times a day.

Did you know?

  • There are 2,499 mosques in Istanbul.
  • The first mosque on the Asian side, Rum Mehmet Paşa Camisi, was built in Üsküdar in 1460’s by Rum Mehmet Paşa who was a vizier.
  • Mosques with 4 minarets were built only by the Sultans. The only exception is Maltepe Camii that was built in the republic era in the 20th century.
  • Ezan, call to prayer was sang in Turkish from 1932 to 1950.




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