29 August 2013

Yeni and Rüstem Paşa Cami

I've been hiding in my apartment from the summer heat but last weekend finally hauled myself out to explore a couple of the mosques I haven't yet visited. My friends E&M spent their time here well, saw more than I think I've seen! and by doing so, somewhat shamed me into braving the heat and going out. What's the point of living here otherwise?

From inside the courtyard
My first stop was Yeni Cami, literally, New Mosque. Yeni Cami dominates the waterfront at Eminönü and was built between 1597 and 1663. It's a beautiful mosque. Narrower than the Sultan Ahmet Mosque (the Blue Mosque) but equally dizzying in how high above the domes soar.

Mellowed by the electric lights and curtained doorways, when I first entered I had the impression of a dark, warm interior. It wasn't until my eyes adjusted to the light (in all fairness I was somewhat blinded still by the sun from outside) that I was able to appreciate the colors properly. The turquoise and blue tiles are offset by deeper almost purple and maroons lending a layered feeling to the colors of the interior.

I'm afraid the stained glass windows did not show up well in my pictures which is very unfortunate. They not only amplify the tiles covering the walls and domes but color the light in such as way as to subtly demand a calm that seemed to envelope everyone there.

As calm and beautiful as it was in the mosque, I was quick to yank off my scarf as soon as I got outside. I don't know how women wear the veil throughout the summer heat but power to them for it.

Next I made my way to the Rüstem Paşa Cami which is located not too far from Yeni Cami. This somewhat hidden gem of a mosque is I think my favorite so far.

Built shortly before Yeni Cami (1561), Rüstem Paşa Cami is somewhat "hidden" above the busy market streets. It's a smaller mosque, nothing (size wise) to compare to mosques like Sultan Ahmet, Yeni, Beyazit, or Süleymaniye, but its tiles and the immense amount of light inside match those great mosques beauty for beauty.

In fact I took so many pictures it was incredibly hard to narrow it down to posting just these!

I don't know why, but when long stretches pass between mosque visits, I'm always hesitant to go to another mosque. And I shouldn't be because at least here in Istanbul people are always very friendly when you're visiting. The guys at the Blue Mosques can be jerks sometimes but the guardian here at Rüstem Paşa Cami was friendly and welcoming.

In fact I got to practice my Turkish with him. I arrived just five minutes before prayer so I only had time to snap a few pictures inside. When he came in to clear out the tourists I asked how long it would be before the mosque reopened for visitors and if it would be cool for me to wait in the courtyard. He encouraged me to read one of the free copies of the Koran the mosque has available in many languages for people to take.

While the mosque was closed for prayer I hung out in the courtyard.

And took pictures of the tiles. It was amazing how many different patterns decorated both the outside and inside of this mosque. I don't even have pictures of all of them but these were some of my favorites.

Lesson learned: don't neglect the smaller mosques in favor of the larger, more famous ones because you'll end up missing out on a lot!

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