If you admire the extensive history and seamless cultural fusion in Turkey, then odds are you probably admire the northwest, transcontinental region called Marmara Bölgesi. It is surrounded by three bodies of water, the Sea of Marmara, the Black Sea, Aegean Sea and it exclusively connects the two continents, Europe and Asia. The Marmara region might be the one of the smallest regions in Turkey, but do not let the size fool you. Marmara Bölgesi may be small in size but it makes up for it with large populations and 14 provinces including İstanbul.
Commonly mistaken as the capital of Turkey, İstanbul is the largest city in the country with a population of over 15 million. In history, this well known city was an important destination along the Silk Road and has served as the capital under the rule of the Byzantine (Byzantium) and Ottoman (Constantinople) empires.
As a cultural melting pot, Istanbul is bursting with various events and festivals that give you a quick taste of Turkish culture. Be mindful to not be dazzled only by tourist attractions. History is deeply ingrained in the identity of Turkey and Istanbul is a great place to view it! From mosques, bazaars, hamams, palaces, and hippodromes, you can see or experience the perfect blend of cross-cultural influence to the Turkish culture.
You haven’t properly visited Istanbul unless you have toured one of the many incredible mosques in the city found on five of the seven surrounding hills. Mosques are extremely symbolic to Turkish culture. On the third hill, you can admire the second largest mosque in Istanbul, the Süleymaniye Mosque which was built as a legacy to honor the magnificent Sultan Suleiman. During his reign, Sultan Suleiman demonstrated power, persistence, and wisdom throughout his campaigns, military strategies, and ideologies. In addition his strong leadership, the sultan is responsible for creating the former city of Constantinople into the great Turkish city of Istanbul.
Sultan Suleiman “the Magnificent” envisioned this temple to be his legacy as the second Solomon and even named a tower as the temple of solomon. The carefully adorned high arching ceilings, the ornate carpeting, and gorgeous lighting fixtures will make you gasp from its raw design.The sultan’s investment in the construction shows through the careful detail from location, stone decor, on site facilities, minarets, towers, and mausoleums.
A visit to the Süleymaniye Mosque is an incredible opportunity to regard the meticulous work of Mimar Sinan, a renown architect of the time who was responsible for many buildings throughout Turkey. As you observe the many details of the structure, you can see how Sinan smartly intermixed the architectural styles of both Byzantine and Islamic places of worship to create a mosque unlike others during its time.
The grounds of the mosque are just as beautiful as the building. Aside from being a place of worship, you can find madrasas(schools), a kitchen, a library, and the mausoleums of of Sultan Suleiman and his family as well as those of Suleiman II and Ahmed II. The Süleymaniye Mosque is hard to miss when you are in Istanbul so be sure to plan time to visit.