Ortakoy Mosque is the most beautiful mosque located on the European side of the Bosphorus. Located in Ortakoy, one of the most popular districts of Istanbul, the mosque is named after the district, even though its real name is Buyuk Mecidiye Mosque.
It is possible to divide the Ottoman mosques in Istanbul into two categories as Classical and Modern. Classical period mosques are mostly located in the Historic Peninsula. On the other hand, modern period mosques are located on the shores of the Bosphorus.
Among the classical period mosques, the most famous ones are Suleymaniye Mosque and Blue Mosque. These mosques are inspired by the style of Mimar Sinan, the most famous architect of the Ottoman Empire. These early period structures of Ottoman Istanbul stand out with their simplicity.
Modern period mosques were built in the 18th and 19th centuries. When we say modern, we are actually referring to the Westernization movement in the Ottoman Empire. For this reason, late period Ottoman mosques have mostly European architecture such as Baroque and Neoclassical.
History of Ortakoy Mosque
The history of Ortakoy Mosque actually dates back to the 1700s. At that time, there was a small mosque here. However, this structure burned down during a rebellion in Istanbul.
In the 19th century, important structures were being built on the shores of the Bosphorus. The most prominent among these was the Dolmabahce Palace. Sultan Abdulmejid, who had important structures built on the shores of the Bosphorus, also ordered the mosque in Ortakoy to be rebuilt.
The palace architects who shaped the city’s architecture in the 1800s came from the Balyan family for several generations. The Balyan family, who had their signatures on most of the palaces and mosques on the Bosphorus shore, was commissioned to rebuild this mosque as well.
The Balyan family was equipping Istanbul with buildings inspired by Baroque and Neo-Classical architecture. Thus, Ortakoy Mosque was built in a distinctive Baroque style in line with the fashion of that period.
The structures that represent the Modern period in Ottoman mosques attract attention mostly with the richness of the decorations on the outside. The carvings on the columns of the mosque and the reliefs on the walls bring a dynamism to the exterior of the building.
Mosques built by Ottoman sultans were usually named after the sultan who built the building. However, because this mosque has been identified with the district, it is called Ortakoy. The elegant mosque offers wonderful photos for those who take a Bosphorus cruise in Istanbul.
Interior of Ortakoy Mosque
The interior of Ortakoy Mosque is perfectly illuminated thanks to its large windows. The Bosphorus view from these windows makes it unique among Istanbul mosques.
Of course, there are mosques with sea views in many parts of the Bosphorus. However, since Ortakoy Mosque is located at the most beautiful point of the district, it watches the sea like a lodge with a view.
The interior of the mosque has a flamboyant decoration as can be seen in the photos of Ortakoy Mosque in the article. Baroque decorations are supported by warm and vibrant colors.
The plates decorated with calligraphy hanging on the walls of the mosque are the Sultan’s own design. Sultan Abdulmejid, who was also a calligrapher, personally contributed to the interior decoration of the mosque.
As an Istanbulite, I love visiting this mosque. The mosque is filled with daylight and has a feel-good atmosphere. It also reflects the spirit of the cozy neighborhood where it is located.
Ortakoy Mosque Opening Hours 2023
Ortakoy Mosque opening hours are between 09:00 in the morning and 18:30 in the evening as of 2023. Like all mosques in Istanbul, it is closed during prayer times. The best time to visit the mosque is between 09:00 in the morning and 11:30 in the afternoon.
The Mosque would be open between these hours, regardless of summer or winter. However, after 11:30, it is possible to come across the noon prayer in some periods of the year. In this case, you can wander around the neighborhood a bit and come back when the mosque reopens.
I don’t think you will worry about the mosque being temporarily closed as it is easy to have a pleasant time in Ortakoy district. However, you can find out exactly what hours it may be closed from the prayer times on the official page of religious affairs.
When looking at the prayer time schedule, keep in mind that the mosque will be closed before the adhan (call to prayer) is called. For example, if the noon prayer (Dhuhr) is displayed as 13:00, the mosque may be closed between 12:30 and 13:30.
Mosques in Istanbul usually close half an hour before the call to prayer and are prepared for worshipers. It is reopened after the congregational prayer. This means that mosques (in general) remain closed for 1 hour. As an exception, the Hagia Sophia Mosque is open all day long.
It should also be noted that there is no entrance fee for the Ortakoy Mosque. Entry to all mosques in Istanbul is free. Whether you are going to pray or just to see it, you do not pay to enter mosques.
Things to Do Around the Mosque
There are fun things to do around Ortakoy Mosque. For example, Ortakoy-Bebek walk, which we have added to the list of the best things to do in Istanbul on the blog, starts from this district. For example, you can have a great Turkish breakfast at The House Cafe in Ortakoy and go for a walk to Bebek for coffee.
Istanbulites who come to Ortakoy usually have breakfast or eat kumpir here. Kumpir is a baked potato stuffed with various vegetables. This street food is specifically identified with Ortakoy in Istanbul.
Taking photos in Ortakoy Square is one of the things that locals do most. Everyone in Istanbul has a photograph of the Ortakoy Mosque and the Bosphorus Bridge together in the background.
The walking path between Ortakoy and Bebek promises a magnificent Bosphorus view. The best track for walking or jogging along the Bosphorus is on this route. While walking between the two districts, you will pass Arnavutkoy. This place is famous for its fish restaurants.
Ortakoy Mosque is just one of dozens of Ottoman-era mosques in Istanbul. However, the mosque has a special place due to the features I mentioned in the article. In short, the mosque’s excellent location and sharp Baroque features make it stand out.
If you want to learn more about mosques in Istanbul, you may also want to check out the 25 best mosques in Istanbul. You can find a list of the most famous mosques in Istanbul in this article.
Written by Serhat Engul