[Featured Destination: Istanbul]: Religion in Istanbul

For centuries, Turkey has been home to all three great revealed religions (Islam, Judaism and Christianity)

Majority of the population is Muslim and the empires, architectures, arts and literature are hugely influenced by Islam. Istanbul is the historic seat of the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate with a number of active Orthodox Christian churches. Some neighbourhoods have been known with their sizeable populations of these ethnic groups:

  • the Kumkapı neighbourhood, which had a significant Armenian population;
  • the Balat neighbourhood, which used to have a sizeable Jewish population;
  • the Fener neighbourhood with a large Greek population


Sultan Ahmed Mosque, “Blue Mosque”, Image: MY EXPRESION under CC BY 3.0

The most important and major religion in Turkey is Islam. The first mosque in Istanbul was built in Kadıköy(ancient Chalcedon) on the Asian side of the city, which was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1353. The first mosque on the European side of Istanbul was built inside the Rumelian Castle in 1452.

Many other imperial mosques were built in the following centuries, such as the famous Süleymaniye Mosque (1557) which was ordered by Suleiman the Magnificent and designed by the great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, and the famous Sultan Ahmed Mosque(1616) which is also known as the “Blue Mosque” for the blue tiles which adorn its interior.


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