Photography Club Trek to Buyukçekmece

Entrance to the Sancaklar Mosque, Buyukçekmece

Our photography club visited the soon-to-be opened Sancaklar Mosque, in the Buyukçekmece district of Istanbul. Unfortunately, it was hosing down with rain for most of the morning, but we persevered anyway.

There is no minaret for the mosque,only this tower above ground

This, the very first underground mosque, won first place in the World Architecture Fest competition for religious places. Its design is meant to merge the essence of Islamic and Ottoman concepts with modernity. Sancaklar Mosque was inspired by the Cave of Hira, where Prophet Muhammad is said to have received God's message.

Inside the mosque

Sancaklar Mosque, built by the Turkish architect Emre Arolat, is 1200 square meters in size, and seven meters underground. It is lit by thin tubes of lights, and skylights for natural light, to give a quiet, spiritual environment.

The only decoration is this calligraphy on a shiny black background

The mosque has an interesting roof structure

After leaving the mosque, we continued to explore the area. It is a fascinating glimpse into bygone days. The weather was also beginning to clear, thankfully!

A statue of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent (1495-1566)

During Süleyman's reign, the Ottoman empire was at its highest peak of grandeur and prosperity. Soon after his death, the empire began its decline.

Büyükçekmece Sultan Süleyman Bridge (built 1566-1567)

The bridge, which was called the Four Brothers because of its four distinct parts, is 636 metres long with twenty eight arches. It was built by that great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, who is said to have remarked, “This is the masterpiece among my buildings”.

The rounded arches of the bridge

The minaret of the Sokullu Mehmet Pasha Mosque

Sokullu Mehmet Pasha Mosque (1567), was also built by Mimar Sinan for the Prime Minister of the time, Sokulla Mehmet Pasha. This mosque is famous for its minaret, which was hewn from a single piece of stone. The only other example of this is in Egypt. Unfortunately, because of modern additions, the mosque itself is unremarkable.

The mosque's fountain, where worshipers wash before prayers

Statue of the great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan

Buyukçekmece Caravanserai (The leaded Han)

This was the nearest lodging place to Istanbul for the traders who travelled the old Silk Road, that linked Asia to Europe in the 16th century.  Originally, the roof was completely covered with lead, so it became known as the Kurşunlu Han (the Leaded Han). After falling into disuse, the han was renovated in 1985-1987, and is now being used as a centre for culture and the arts.

As we were leaving Büyükçekmece, these two children ran up to me and begged me to take their photo. So here they are, two children from Büyükçekmece.

by Elizabeth Coughlan


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