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Simits, Pide and Künefe: Familiar Turkish Favorites »« Sunday Morning in Kumkapı

The Rüstem Paşa Camii

Built on a steep hill in the middle of a busy market area, the Rüstem Paşa mosque is yet another masterpiece from the ubiquitous master architect Mimar Sinan. If you weren’t carefully looking for the entrance, you would almost certainly miss it: just a narrow set of nondescript stairs leading up from the street. So ascending these steps and emerging into the mosque’s spacious courtyard is quite a surprise.

Istanbul-Mosques

The surprises continue as you enter the mosque. The Rüstem Paşa is famed for its magnificent use of Iznik tiles, which cover every conceivable inch of the interior. Considering their age (the mosque was completed in 1563), the tiles are unbelievably colorful and the generous number of windows shows them in the best possible light. We loved this mosque — not only was it the most beautiful we had yet seen, but it’s also among the most welcoming to visitors. They even pass out free copies of the Koran… in English! I’ll probably never get around to reading it, but you never know when a Koran is going to come in handy.

On an unfortunate side note, we saw some abhorrent tourist behavior here. I can’t fathom what gets into people’s heads, but mosques are active places of worship which graciously welcome visitors. But an outrageous number of tourists in the Rüstem Paşa were gleefully breaking every rule: stepping over the ropes signed with “Please Stay Behind”, shouting to each other, wearing horribly inappropriate clothing, and groping everything they could get their hands on. And when I saw a couple sneak past the protective curtain up onto the pulpit, I came perilously close to scolding complete strangers. Tourists behaving badly damage the reputation of us all.

Location of the Rüstem Paşa Camii

-Tons Of Istanbul Cats

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April 6, 2013 at 5:58 pm
15 comments »
  • April 6, 2013 at 6:13 pmGuler Ozgenc

    I see the Koran’s cover is matching the tiles. :) I am enjoying the photos, again, greatly. Thanks.

  • April 7, 2013 at 9:50 amCipri @Travelocafe

    I am enjoying your posts about Turkey. I love your photos. Strangely they remind me of Seville.

  • April 7, 2013 at 10:20 amCat of Sunshine and Siestas

    I live in Seville, Spain, and so many of these patterns have been repeated in our patrimony. Beautiful!

  • April 7, 2013 at 12:20 pmJess of Sunshine Umbrella Travel

    Stunning photos; thanks for sharing! I’ll definitely be adding this to my list for when I visit Turkey. Safe travels. :)

  • April 7, 2013 at 6:29 pmNot Hemingway’s Spain

    I suppose saying what mosque is your favorite is kind of like saying which of your kids is your favorite – they’re all amazing in their own way… But who are we kidding? This mosque was my favorite! It had all the beauty and elegance of its bigger more famous Blue Mosque sister, but more quaint and less crowded (at least when went there). You had me at Iznik tiles! (For all you Spain, esp. sevillano readers, yes, it is interesting to see the similarities to the Real Alcázar or Córdoba Mezquita. There is a similar Christian-Muslim fusion vibe, too.)When I started reading this entry, I had a sinking feeling, “was I wearing shorts the day we went there?” But I’m guessing that I wasn’t the tourist you were writing about ;)

  • April 7, 2013 at 8:18 pmFernando Ruiz Vera

    I’m really enjoying your  visit to Turkey!!!! I like so much what your pics show that I’m plannig to go there at the end of the year, hope everything goes well until then. greeting from Bolivia!

  • April 8, 2013 at 4:53 pmDiane

    Great post! As for the tourists behaving badly… even if one does not prescribe to that particular set of beliefs, sacred places should be revered by all. Respect for another’s culture and/or beliefs would go a long way in world peace.

    • April 9, 2013 at 5:30 amMike Powell

      Exactly right! It was that lack of respect which shocked us. Maybe it’s a “vacation” mindset that gets into some people; they behave in ways they never would back home, treating the places they’re visiting as theme parks. A lack of awareness, I guess.

  • April 8, 2013 at 10:05 pmSam

    What a lovely find! Were the Korans in English? I thought translation wasn’t allowed.

    • April 9, 2013 at 7:22 amMike Powell

      Yeah, it’s in English. If translating the Quran is forbidden, I guess Istanbul didn’t get the memo!

    • May 28, 2013 at 7:55 pmMeryem

      Nope, translation of the Qu’ran is not forbidden. How else would the people who don’t speak Arabic understand the Qu’ran if it wasn’t allowed to be translated?

  • April 16, 2013 at 10:45 pmRachel @ Well Worn Soles

    I love all of these pictures! I love Istanbul and all the beautiful history. 


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