“Kurban Bayramı” (Feast of Sacrifice) is one of the most important moments for the believers of the Islamic faith in addition to “Ramazan Bayramı” (Ramadan). By this year’s first day of the Feast of Sacrifice on November 16, restoration work on two magnificent mosques in Istanbul ended and they are reopened to public’s service as a nice feast gesture.
We’re talking about the monumental Süleymaniye Mosque and the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, probably the two most beautiful mosques (along with Rüstempaşa and Selimiye in Edirne) made by the great architect Mimar Sinan in the second half of the 1500’s.
The Süleymaniye Mosque, due to its historical significance and its prime location on a hill overlooking the Golden Horn, is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Istanbul. Over the last three years, it was such a disappointment for many tourists who wanted to visit historical Süleymaniye area and didn’t know about the restoration work in the mosque. Instead, they had to settle for a pleasant and interesting walk in the vicinity of the mosque. Fortunately, since November 16th, 2013, it is once again open to the public.
The restoration work, conducted by a team of 200 people, has been very accurate after spending about 10 million Euros. The complex dedicated to Suleyman the Magnificent, is related to the heyday of the Ottoman Empire, and has become a symbol of the city over the centuries.
The Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, certainly way less known but no less beautiful, is located in the district of Edirnekapi, near Chora Church. It is well worth a visit both for its high artistic value and in view of the fact that it was closed for 10 years because of earthquake damage from 1999. The Princess Mihrimah was the daughter of Suleyman and the wife of his Grand Vizier Rüstem Paşa, who was very prominent in the Ottoman court, actively participating, along with his mother Roxelana, in the political intrigues of the palace.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who attended the re-opening of the Süleymaniye, has rolled up his sleeves to have all historic mosques renewed in Istanbul. Considering the current number of construction sites (including Fatih Mosque) and the sites that will be opened soon, we can say that it is already well under way. It could be argued that the whole renewing process is coming from a certain political expediency more so than the love for the cultural heritage. However, when one considers the pitiful degradation that pours from our (Italian) artistic heritage and the continuing cuts to cultural preservation in our country, political expediency is better than nothing…