The Fatih Mosque (Turkish: Fatih Cami), meaning ‘Mosque of the Conqueror’ was the first purpose-built mosque in Istanbul. It’s named after the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, known in Turkish as Fatih Sultan Mehmed.
- The mosque was built on the site of one of the most important Christian buildings in the city at the time, the Church of the Holy Apostles. Up until 1028 CE, the church had been the burial place of all Byzantine emperors (including Constantine) but had been left in a poor condition. Construction of the mosque began ten years after the Conquest of Istanbul, in 1463 CE and lasted seven years.
- The original mosque complex included madressas (religious schools), library, hospital, travellers inn, and a public kitchen which served food to the poor. Much of the building material for the mosque complex came from the demolished church, such as some of the pillars in the courtyard. It was designed by the Greek architect Atik Sinan (Sinan the Elder).
- The original mosque was almost completely destroyed in an earthquake in 1766 CE. It was rebuilt in 1771 CE (to a different plan) by the architect Mimar Mehmet Tahir under the order of Sultan Mustapha III.
- The outer precinct of the mosque is quite large, having been built to accommodate the tents of a caravan. It’s enclosed by a wall and, to the north and south, by the madrassa (religious school) buildings, which accommodated the first Ottoman university. The inner courtyard of the mosque is regarded as one of the most beautiful in the city.
- The present mosque features a central 26 meter dome supported by four semi-domes on each axis which are all supported by four large marble columns. There are two slender minarets on either side.
- The interior of the Fatih Mosque shows a distinct Baroque influence and has a more subdued look compared to many of the other major mosques in Istanbul.
- The tombs of Mehmet II and of one of his wives, Gulbahar, are situated to the east of the mosque. The originals were destroyed in the earthquake.
- The largest street market in Istanbul takes place around the Fatih Mosque every Wednesday, selling food, clothing and household goods.
References: The rough guide to Istanbul, Wikipedia, Istanbultourstudio.com