Arda, my Interpreter, guided me to a very special place: The Rustem Pasha Mosque. It was hidden amid market stalls on route to the Spice and Grand Bazaars. Smaller than The Blue Mosque, to me it was more modest and peaceful as a place to reflect. The tile work was much more accessible and I was able to more closely appreciate the patterns and their detail. Built by Mimar Sinan the mosque is lined with Iznik tiles featuring hatia, rumi, cloud and tulip designs in rich colors of turquoise, green, red, and cobalt on a white background.
Through the sequence of arrival, ascending from the market, through a small door and dark set of enclosed steps (one of four sets), we arrived within the entry courtyard of the Mosque. The courtyard was defined in three sections (open air, arcade and the narthex; covered with tiles) and surrounded on three sides by porticos.
The courtyard had a subtle sense of enclosure defined by floating domes and framed views beyond and below, through the colonnades of stonework. The combination of stone, ironwork, tiling and stained glass were in balance on the exterior. Inside was truly like ‘Walking into Heaven’s Garden’ with thousands of Iznik tiles colored and patterned with the pure beauty of nature lining the Mosque interior. We were there in the early afternoon midweek, and it was very peaceful. I found it hard to imagine people spilling out into the courtyard for Friday Prayer. But this was a weekly occurrence when the Mosque had full visitation.