The connecting port of Istanbul with other districts, Eminönü's most famous attraction is the two Mosques gazing down on the city. Hagia Sophia was first built to be the central cathedral of the Byzantine Empire. Its beauty and design were unmatched in the world until the Ottoman Empire's capture of Istanbul from the Byzantines. By the orders of Sultan Ahmed the First, a mosque was to be designed on a hill overlooking the Hagia Sophia. This new mosque was to be more glamorous than even Hagia Sophia. Once it was completed, the building took over the fame of the city in its mantle. Hagia Sophia was closed for a long time to the public until recently reopened as a mosque. The two architectural beauties still stand on two hills overlooking one another and welcome any visitor to Istanbul.
The local economy has developed around these two buildings. There is a Spice Bazaar that has been operating since the Ancient Silk Road, now offering the spices of the Turkish kitchen with the world. The Grand Bazaar is also located in Eminönü, where you can find household items, as well as fashion styles left from the Ottoman Era.
Ports and one station of the Marmaray is available for easy access to anywhere in the city. You can arrive at the district from Kadıköy, the Prince Islands, or Üsküdar districts on the Anatolian side with a single boat trip.
New Eminönü Mosque
While this historical neighbourhood of the Fatih district is famous for its two massive mosques, it is also home to 14 more equally historical mosques. One of them is the New Eminönü Mosques, located on the shores of the Golden Horn. It has been overlooking the Haliç since the 17th century under the name of the Valide Sultan Mosque.
The New Eminönü Mosque surely is one of the most famous mosques found in Istanbul that is worth visiting. Not only its long history but also its eye-catching architecture is what attracts the locals and tourists alike for years.
Its location and monetary implications created disagreement in the court. The Eminönü neighbourhood was the city's foremost commercial center and home to a predominantly Jewish population. In situating the mosque there, Safiye Sultan hoped to extend the sphere of Islamic influence within the city, capitalizing on the growing discontent of local and foreign merchants. This gave the Sultan an easy justification for confiscating their property. However, the vast monetary outlay drew sharp criticism. In particular, the Janissaries resented the growing political power of the Valide Sultan and believed the mosque to be an unnecessary expenditure.
Originally constructed in 1597, it was ordered by Safiye Sultan, who was the wife of Sultan Murad III and later Valide Sultan (Queen Mother) of Sultan Mehmed III. She ordered the mosque in her capacity as Valide Sultan, two years after Mehmed III's ascension to the Ottoman throne in 1595, hence the original formal name "Valide Sultan Mosque". The project took more than half a century to complete.
The mosque opened to the public in 1665. Then renamed the "New Valide Sultan Mosque" (Yeni Valide Sultan Camii). In time, it was shortened as the "New Mosque" (Yeni Cami) among the public.
The exterior of the mosque itself boasts 66 domes and half-domes in a pyramidal arrangement, as well as two minarets. The main dome is 36 metres tall while supported by four half-domes. Similar to many Ottoman-era mosques, the New Mosque also has a courtyard before you reach the entrance.
Inside, there is a square-shaped prayer room that is 41 meters tall. The inner design is decorated with blue, green and white Iznik tiles, which are considered somewhat inferior in quality to tiles in earlier Ottoman mosques.
While the mosque is home to the final resting place for 17 royalty of the Ottoman Empire, it has various other museums that were turned into from different usages. An ottoman-style school type called "Külliye" that catered to the royalty children, a library built by one of the Sultans for its tomb, and a separate mausoleum to hold Sultans and their family.
The New Mosque is located in a place that has historical importance. So, there are many other landmarks in the surrounding area that you can check out such as Fethiye Museum where you can see the mosaics of Jesus Christ and the twelve prophets along with the baptism of Jesus Christ, Chora Museum where you can find images portraying the life of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, Valens Aqueduct which was a structure that supplied the city’s water with many tunnels as well as another beautiful structure, the Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque. However keep in mind that the Fethiye Museum and the Chora Museum are closed on Wednesdays, and they are open from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm.