As we leave the shopping festival behind, it may be time to focus back on history, the city and sight-seeing.
As such, one of the places that you should make time to see, whilst in Istanbul is the Mahmutpaşa Mosque. It would not be totally out of your way, as it is in the proximity of the Grand Bazar. What makes this tiny mosque significant to a tourist’s itinerary and then to Istanbul’s history is that, it was first mosque built after the Ottomans conquered Istanbul in the 15th century.
The building of the Mosque was initiated by the Grand Vizier Mahmutpaşa of Fatih Sultan Mehmet (the emperor); the construction was completed in 1462.
The Mahmutpaşa Mosque was initially a part of a big külliye. Külliyes were important urban structures that defined the way of life in the Ottoman era. The külliyes were living complexes with a hammam, a mosque, residential houses, markets, schools and sometimes even a construction bureau. If we may liken those to a modern age – contemporary urban structure; it would not be wrong to say that they were very similar in nature to urban, sky-scraping residences with security, a fitness saloon, laundry room and a supermarket.
The külliyes were indeed historical versions of the contemporary big skyscrapers; however they were also obviously more functional. The külliyes were used to define “mahalles” or in English neighborhoods (districts) of the city. Whether each külliye had a governor is not certain; but each külliye or district did have an officer or a group of them for sure; such as the kadi (legal advisor) and major.
Of this Külliye of Mahmutpaşa, there remains today only a few urban structures, one of which is the mosque. The hamam and the han (name given to hotels in that era) are also other remains.
Interesting to see to get a gist of history. An example of what remains and what does not… And, it is not even out of your way… As you leave the Grand Bazaar from the Nuruosmaniye Gate, ask for directions to Mahmutpaşa. As you walk through that vivid street of vendors, you shall come across the remaining Külliye.
[Images by Burcin Gökçe.]