The New Queen Mother Mosque (Yeni Valide Camii), commonly called the New Mosque (Yeni Cami), dominates the ferry docks in Eminönü at the southern end of Istanbul‘s Galata Bridge over the Golden Horn(map).
It’s not new, having been constructed between 1597 and 1663. Its common name is an abbreviated version of its proper name.
Begun on orders of Valide Sultan Safiye, mother of Sultan Mehmet III (1595-1603), work stopped when the sultan died and his mother lost her powerful position as the Queen Mother (Valide Sultan).
The unfinished building was abandoned for more than a half century, and the derelict structure even caught fire in 1660.
That same year the mother of Sultan Mehmet IV, Queen Mother Turhan Hatice, decided to complete the mosque. Three years later (1663) it was finished, having been constructed following the original architectural plans drawn up by a student of the great Mimar Sinan.
Although viewed by architectural historians as a lesser of the great imperial mosques of the classical Ottoman architectural period, the Yeni Cami (YEH-nee jah-mee) is still a beautiful building worthy of a visit, particularly as it is uncrowded by tourists.
So long as you don’t visit at prayer times, you can enjoy its peace, tranquillity and splendid decoration.
|Yeni Cami (New Mosque, left) with the Süleymaniye Mosque (right) on the hill behind it.|
Like all of Istanbul’s imperial mosques, the Yeni Cami was the center of a külliye, or complex of other buildings, including a hospital, Turkish bath, school, library, astronomer’s office, public fountains and a market—the Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar.
Most of these buildings are gone, but the market remains, as does the tomb (türbe) of the mosque’s founder, Turhan Hatice Hanım, which also contains the remains of her son Sultan Mehmet IV, as well as the later sultans Mustafa II, Ahmet III, Mahmut I, Osman III and Murat V.