Interesting Stories

Where are the seven hills of Istanbul?

Throughout the history, Istanbul has always been an attractive city with the geographical features, climate and vegetation .During the term that it was the capital of East-Roman Empire, masterworks such as squares and taps and some other historical artifacts in the number of 3 , 7 and 40,which are blessed by almost all civilizations,were built and protected all around the city.One of the names of Istanbul,having various names more than 30,is “Yeditepe” (Seven –hilled)

Today, “At Square”,also known as Sultan Ahmet Square, “Çemberlitaş Square” in Beyazıt and “Kıztaşı Square” in Fatih have been the most important city plans of 3000 year-old history of Istanbul.,as the squares,the roads of which were directly connected to one another.Byzantine squares,monuments and roads were preserved in Ottoman Period but due to the unguided urbanization in late Ottoman and republic eras, they lost their characteristics. Today, though the megalits, obelisks and At Square are worn off they still survive but Çemberlitaş Square,Kıztaşı Square and the roads that connect them to one another are totally destroyed.

Suriçi,admitted as ancient Istanbul,comes into existence with seven hills and it has preserved its magnificence till today ,comprising the great masterworks up the hills,built both in Ottoman and Byzantine Ages throughout the history.So,Istanbul,the seven-hilled city,eternized its hills thanks to these masterworks.As in Ottoman age,there were also great great works up the seven hills in Byzantine age but most of them couldn’t survive to this day.

The public commonly believe that,the city is named as “seven hills” due to the hills out of the city.With the aim of correcting this wrong information and identifying Istanbul,the apple of world’s eye,it’s time to make asummary of the stories of seven hills.

The First Hill

It begins from Seraglio Point and extends over the whole zone including Hagia Sophia,the Topkapı Palace and Sultan Ahmet.Here we can see Hagia Sophia and the Sultan Ahmet Mosque.The Sultan Ahmet Mosque,the architect of which is Sedefkar Mehmet Ağa,is the only mosque in the world with its six minarets.

Second Hill

The second hill,named as Constantine pillar,surviving from Byzantine period is still strong and visible in an attractive form.In addition,The Nuruosmaniye Mosque and Külliye nearby the north of Çemberlitaş,can be seen more clear.The mosque,got started in the reign of Osman III,carries Ottoman baroque style.

Third One

The third hill is the one hosts Süleymaniye,the most amazing mosque of Istanbul, This monumental masterpiece of Mimar Sinan ( Sinan the Architect) creates s good view with its four minarets.The graves of Sinan the Architect and Suleyman the Magnificent take place in the small,barred cemetery of the mosque.The hill is occupied by the old ministry of war building,which is the main building of Istanbul University today, the Beyazıt Mosque and The Beyazıt Tower. Sultan Bayezid II had the Beyazıt Mosque built. This mosque is an example of early-classic Ottoman architecture. Though there is no certainity about who the architect is,there are some estimations putting forward Hayrettin the architect,Kemalettin the architect or Yakupşah bin Sultanşah.It is accepted to be the oldest and the most original mosque that was built with the orders of a Sultan.The grave of Bayezid II is in the small cemetery of the mosque. In the place of today’s “Beyazıt Tower”,there was a tower named as “Tetratsiyon”,that was used to observe the fires from a distance.In Ottoman age,a new wooden tower was built instead of Tetratsiyon by Kirkor Balyan,an Ottoman architect.The new tower was set afire because of a janissary revolt and it was again reconstructed by Krikor Balyan’s brother Senekerim Balyan, with the order of Mahmut II.Before the presence of the tower,the fire observations were carried at the minarets of the Süleymaniye Mosque.

Fourth Hill

The forth hill,on which stood the Church of Holy Apostles but now stands the Fatih Mosque,slopes down to the Golden Horn on north and to Aksaray on south and it is connected to the third hill by “the Arch of Valens”.After the conquest,the Church of Holy Apostles was used by the Patriarchate,but when Fatih the Conqueror decided the construction of the mosque and külliye, the church was moved to Abbey of Pammakaritos in which still the patriarchate goes on.

The Fatih Mosque,the architect of which is Sinaüddin Yusuf bin Abdullah,was started in 1562 and finished in 1470.As it was highly damaged for a few times,as a result of earthquakes,it has lost the unique appereance of itself due to the restorations.The tomb of Fatih the Conqueror is also nearby the mosque.

Fifth Hill

The fifth hill slopes up from the shore of Golden Horn.This slope ends in Çarşamba, over Fener. On this hill, we find the Mosque of Yavuz Sultan Selim. This mosque, the architect of which is not certain, was totally completed in the reign of his son Süleyman the Magnificent, but the form of it looks like a pre-conquest Ottoman Mosques. This is the closest hill to Golden Horn.

The architect is not certain but the start date is 1522.Evliya Çelebi declares that it is a project of Sinan the Architect.It was started by the order of Yavuz Sultan Selim and a tomb,imaret and a madrasah were added by the order of Süleyman the Magnificent.The tomb of Yavuz Selim is in the garden behind the mosque and the mosque is overlooking a cistern at one side and a scarp on the other side.

Sixth Hill

On the sixth one,are to be found the districts of Ayvansaray and Edirnekapı.Here,the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque,designed by Sinan the architect on behalf of Mihrimah Sultan (the daughter of Suleyman the Magnificent) takes place.The dome is propped up by four large arches inside the walls.In this project,the architect was able to give place to many windows.That’s the reason why it assumes the title of “ligtest mosque of Istanbul”.

Seventh One

Six of the hills are close to Golden Horn while the seventh one is closer to Marmara. The seventh hill,stands starting from Aksaray and defence walls to the shore of Marmara,can be defined as a ridge rather than a hill.The Cerrahpaşa Mosque,by Mehmet Pasha the Cerrad,stands at the knap of the ridge.Since the date of death written on the gravestone of Canbaz Bey,who rests in piece in the small cemetery of the mosque,is 1485,it is obvious that the mosque was built before that date.

All of these hills can be viewed from Pierre Loti.



The life of Sinan the Architect (Mimar Sinan) and his works are widely famous but he also had a love story which is not known by a majority.His love to Mihrimah Sultan,the daughter of Hürrem Sultan…

Hürrem Sultan gives a birth to a daughter.As this baby is a reflection of a legendary love affair,perhaps she is named as Mihrimah(the sun and moon) referring to this fabulous love story.Mihr-ü Mah means the sun and moon in Persian.When Mihrimah is seventeen,a good age to get married in those years,there are two suitors of hers.One of them is Rüstem Pasha,the governer of Diyarbakır, and the other is Sinan the Architect,the head architect of palace.

The padisah weds Rüstem Pasha and Mihrimah as Sinan is 50 and already married but it is clear that Sinan is deeply in love with Mihrimah Sultan.Though he isn’t able to achieve his dream,he reflects his feelings to his art.

He is given an order to built a mosque in Üsküdar with the name of Mihrimah Sultan in 1458.While constructing it,Sinan the Architect shapes the overall silhouette as a woman in her skirt.Also the masterwork that he is inspired for the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque is Haghi Sophia(another masterpiece dedicated to a holy love)

The mosque is so small referring to plain,pure and noble beauty of Mihrimah Sultan.The minaret is just 38 mt.161 windows ,located on the elegant dome, presents how her inner beauty is clear.In those years Mimar Sinan was the only architect who was able to place that much windows on a dome with that width and thickness.

Though the status of Mihrimah Sultan lets her mosque have 2 minarets,Sinan builds it with one in order to symbolize his loneliness.

Sinan sealed his love with such a big charm that,it is impossible not to admire the reality and naivety of his love.The places of two mosques,which are the signs of masters’s love,are specified meticulously.On March 21,on which the day and night are equal,if you watch the sky at a place both the Üsküdar Mihrimah Sultan Mosque and Edirnekapı Mihrimah Sultan Mosque can be seen,you will see that while the sun sets behind minaret of the Üsküdar Mihrimah Sultan Mosque,at the same time the moon rises between the minarets of the Edirne Mihrimah Sultan Mosque.

Besides,21st March is Mihrimah Sultan’s birthdate.

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