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Rustem Pasha Mosque     Istanbul Tours
The first turning on the right beyond the Valide Hani takes us into Uzun Carsi Caddesi, the Avenue of the Long Market. This is the site of the city's secondhand clothing market, where the poor of the city sell one another clothing. About half a kilometer down this street we come to the great Rustem Pasa Mosque, one of the most beautiful of the smaller mosques of Sinan.

This mosque was built in 1561 by Rustem Pasa, twice Grand Vezir under Suleyman the Magnificent and husband of the Sultan's favorite daughter, the Princess Mihrimah.

The mosque is built on a high terrace over an interesting complex of vaulted shops, the rent from which went to maintain the foundation. Interior flights of steps lead up from the corners of the platform to a spacious and beautiful courtyard, unique in the city. The mosque is preceded by a double porch: first the usual type of porch consisting of five domed bays, and then, projecting from this, a deep and low-slung penthouse roof, its outer edge resting on a row of columns.

This arrangement is very pleasant and has a definite architectural unity. The plan of the mosque consist of an octagon inscribed in a rectangle; the dome rest on four semi domes, not in the axes but in the diagonals of the building; the arches of the dome spring from four octagonal pillars, two on the north, two on the south, and from piers projecting from the east and west walls. To north and south are galleries supported by pillars and by small marble columns between them.

Rustem Pasa Mosque is especially famous for its very fine tiles, which almost cover the walls, not only on the interior but also on the facade of the porch. One should also climb to the galleries where the tiles are of a different pattern.

Like all the great Turkish tiles, those of Rustem Pasa came from the kilns of Iznik in its greatest period (c.1555 - 1620) and they show the tomato-red or 'Armenian bole', which is characteristic of that period. These exquisite tiles, in every conceivable floral and geometric design, cover not only the walls, but also the columns, mihrab, and member. Altogether they make one of the most beautiful and striking mosque interiors in the city.

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