Rustem Pasha Mosque is located in Eminonu, one of the liveliest districts of Istanbul. The mosque is located very close to Spice Bazaar and although it is a true architectural treasure, it is not well known by tourists.
Rustem Pasha was the Grand Vizier (Prime Minister) in the 16th century. Rustem Pasha, who was married to Mihrimah Sultan, the daughter of Sultan Suleiman, was one of the wealthiest people of the period.
Rustem Pasha had the mosque built by Mimar Sinan, the most famous Ottoman architect of the time. Although the dimensions of the mosque are not very large, it is one of the most spectacular mosques in Ottoman history in terms of the richness of interior decoration.
As an Istanbulite, I love Eminonu, where the Old City meets the Bosphorus. It is a great pleasure to visit local restaurants and eat street food in the streets surrounding the Spice Bazaar.
Visiting the Rustem Pasha Mosque is also something I do often. Because Iznik Tiles, which are the most beautiful examples of Ottoman pottery, can be seen in Rustem Pasha Mosque.
History of Rustem Pasha Mosque
The history of Rustem Pasha Mosque dates back to the 1560s. During this period, the Ottoman Empire was under the rule of Suleiman the Magnificent. During this era, the empire was spreading over wide lands on 3 continents.
Rustem Pasha was the highest bureaucrat of the state during the peak period of the Ottoman Empire. The pasha, who held the title of Grand Vizier, was also married to Mihrimah Sultan, the daughter of Sultan Suleiman.
Rustem Pasha, the richest statesman in Ottoman history, had a great fortune. In this way, the highest quality materials were used in the construction of the mosque.
During the Ottoman period, it was common for statesmen to build beautiful mosques. However, the exterior architecture of these mosques was not allowed to overshadow the imperial mosques.
Although Rustem Pasha was very wealthy, his mosque would have been quite modest compared to the Suleymaniye Mosque on the hill. For this reason, Rustem Pasha wanted the magnificence of the mosque to be seen in the interior decoration.
In the name of the pasha, the construction of a mosque was started in Eminonu, the most lively market place of Istanbul. The mosque has been one of the most used mosques by the tradesmen in this region for centuries.
Ottoman Tiles in The Mosque
The walls of the mosque were decorated with Ottoman tiles. Tiles were the most distinctive decoration element of Classical Ottoman architecture and were mainly produced in the cities of Iznik and Kutahya.
Rustem Pasha wanted the tiles of the mosque to be from Iznik Tiles, which represent the highest quality. However, when the workshops in this city could not keep up with the demand, another special workshop was established in Kutahya.
Although Rustem Pasha Mosque is a small mosque, it will take a long time for anyone who visits here to enjoy the tiles. Because there are different motifs in every corner of the mosque.
When I visit the mosque, I often see fine arts students making various drawings by observing the tiles here. Inspiring people interested in art, these colorful motifs promise a magical experience.
Interior of Rustem Pasha Mosque
The interior of Rustem Pasha Mosque is decorated with magnificent blue Iznik tiles. These tiles completely cover the walls of the mosque. It is possible to see hyacinth, pomegranate flower and tulip figures on the tiles.
There are 3 mosques in Istanbul identified with the Iznik tiles, the pinnacle of Ottoman pottery. The first of these is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, known as the “Blue Mosque” due to its interior decoration.
The second is the Sokullu Mehmed Pasha Mosque, which was built in Sultanahmet in the name of Sokullu Mehmed Pasha, who was also one of the Grand Viziers of the Ottoman period.
The third mosque is Rustem Pasha Mosque, which is decorated with giant tile panels. This mosque was shown among the “100 hidden jewels of the world” by Newsweek Magazine.
I took the Rustem Pasha Mosque photos you see in the article in 2022. The mosque looks great now as it has recently undergone an extensive restoration. If you want to see more photos like these, you can visit Istanbul Clues’ Instagram page.
Rustem Pasha Mosque Opening Hours 2023
Rustem Pasha 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 Eminonu 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 is open all day long.
It should also be noted that there is no entrance fee for the Rustem Pasha 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
Things to do around Rustem Pasha Mosque include visiting the local bazaars, having lunch at traditional restaurants, and exploring the back streets of Eminonu like a local.
1. Spice Bazaar
Spice Bazaar is located very close to Rustem Pasha Mosque. Spice Bazaar was the place where spices from Asia were collected through trade routes during the Ottoman period.
Spices would go to Egypt with caravans from India and from there to Istanbul by ship. For this reason, the bazaar is also known as the “Egyptian Bazaar” in the local language.
Spice Bazaar is one of the most popular shopping places in Istanbul today and a place that everyone visits. I recommend you to see the mosque while you are in this area.
2. Hamdi Restaurant
Hamdi Restaurant is a great stopping place for those who come around the Spice Bazaar. If you want to take a lunch break when you get tired of visiting the mosques and bazaars in Eminonu, you can try this place.
Hamdi Restaurant is among the traditional restaurants that I prefer as a local. You can find many varieties of Turkish kebab here, and you can also try the baklava made by the restaurant.
3. Mahmutpasa Bazaar
Mahmutpasa Bazaar is the name given to the slope stretching between Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar. Here you can find many things about clothing shopping in Istanbul.
Mahmutpasa Bazaar is a crowded local bazaar every day of the week. You can see locals shopping here. There are also foreign tourists who got tips on cheap shopping.
4. Grand Post Office
The Grand Post Office is one of the most beautiful historic buildings in Eminonu. Built in the 19th century, this Ottoman work refers to the roots of the Turks from Central Asia.
In the 19th century, Ottoman architecture was rapidly westernizing. Two architects named Vedat Tek and Mimar Kemalettin wanted to reverse this trend by blending Seljuk and Ottoman architecture.
Another example of this architectural style, called the First National Architectural Movement, is the building of the Legacy Ottoman Hotel. Under this building is also Brew Coffee Works, one of the best coffee shops in Istanbul.
5. Galata Bridge
Galata Bridge connects Eminonu, the seaside transportation hub of the Old City, with Karakoy. After visiting Rustem Pasha Mosque and Spice Bazaar, you can cross the bridge to reach Beyoglu district.
Beyoglu’s seaside transportation hub is Karakoy. By going up from Karakoy, you can reach Galata Tower, which is a museum, Istiklal Street, which is a walking path, and finally Taksim Square.
Written by Serhat Engul
I am coming to Istanbul on 10th March and plan to take a half day Byzantine tour on 12th . Would like to know if you are free on that day.
Serhat Engül says
Yes I am available on March 12. I will send the details about the tour via your email registered in the system.