I’ll be honest. I’d never heard of the Mosque of Rustem Pasa until I went to Istanbul. I had no idea what I was missing. Before we begin, let’s take a quick look at the beauty that awaits us:
Wow. Breathtaking, isn’t it?
This mosque was built by the Mimar Sinan, architect to Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent and his successors. What Sinan did that was so groundbreaking was to use Hagia Sophia (built as a church in the 6th century in Istanbul, became a mosque in the 15th cent, now a museum) as a model for creating a dome that appears to float above the interior and fill it with light. He was so successful that most mosques built after that very closely copy Sinan’s concept. It’s unusual to find a mosque in a small town that isn’t clearly modeled on his mosques.
The Mosque of Rustem Pasa (ROOS-tem PASH-a) was built for Rustem Pasa (go figure) who was Suleyman’s Grand Vizier and was married to Suleyman’s daughter. Rustem Pasa had died by the time the mosque was begun, but before his death, he successfully plotted with Roxelana, Suleyman’s wife, to cause the death of Suleyman’s favorite son. Suleyman had his son Mustafa strangled in 1553. Yes, strangled.
There’s a lot to say about this photo, but first take a look:
This photo shows several elements that are present in mosques, no matter where you are. The mihrab (MEEH-ruhb), the niche on the wall that the man is facing, shows the direction of Mecca and the direction in which people should pray. (The direction of Mecca is called the “qibla ” (KEE-bluh), and the wall that the mihrab is on is called the “qibla wall.”) In many of the mosques that we went to the mihrab was quite plain, but here, it’s covered in fabulous tile like the rest of the mosque. Continue reading