The Yeni Valide Mosque, more widely known as the Yeni or new mosque, is located adjoining the harbor on the southern bank of the Golden Horn, at the foot of the bridge connecting the historic peninsula with Karaköy to the north. Began in 1597 by Safiye Sultan, the mother of Mehmed III (1595-1603) and completed more than half a century later by Turhan Hatice Sultan, the mother of Mehmed IV (1648-1687), the mosque stands in a long tradition of architectural patronage by Ottoman queen mothers or valides. A dense Jewish neighborhood was cleared for the mosque designed by architect Davud Aga, replaced by Dalgiç Mehmed Aga after his death in 1598 until work halted in 1603. Architect Mustafa Aga completed the mosque between 1661 and 1663 and built a sultan’s kiosk (hünkar kasri), a room for Quran readers (darülkurra), tomb (türbe), Quranic school (sibyan mektebi), sabil (sebil), public fountains (çesme), stores (dükkan) and a closed spice market known as the Egyptian bazaar (Misir Çarsisi) around the mosque. A room for the mosque timekeeper (muvakkithane) was added in the nineteenth century. Details concerning the construction and organization of the complex are documented in waqf documents of the period kept in the Süleymaniye Library.

The mosque is set parallel to the shoreline, on the northwest-southeast axis. The L-shaped market, adjoined by a cemetery and a tomb to the east, defines a large courtyard on the hillside. Walls that separate the mosque from the lower docklands on the seaside, until their demolition in the nineteenth century, joined the market at either end to enclose an irregularly shaped precinct. Elevated above sea-level on a substructure of wooden pilings similar to the one used at the Büyükçekmece Bridge, the precinct was entered from five gates and gave access to all the subsidiary structures with the exception of the market, which was primarily entered from the street. With the construction of the Galata Bridge in 1845 and the demolition of the precinct walls, a vibrant square emerged at the waterfront with commercial buildings built along the mosque. The Eminönü square was crossed by tramlines connecting the two sides of the Golden Horn and remained a transportation hub even after its buildings were demolished in the early Republican period to reveal the mosque. First used as an open-air bus terminal, the square largely disappeared through widening of the coastal highway in 1956 and the construction of a higway interchange in 1986 that permanently cut off the mosque from the waterfront.

The mosque courtyard is entered through three portals, one on each side, that are preceded by cascading set of steps. Slightly smaller than the mosque, the rectangular courtyard is enveloped by an arcade on three sides that meets the mosque portico to the southeast; a total of twenty-four domed bays carried on twenty columns. It has two tiers of windows at regular intervals that continue along the portico façade. At the center, is the marble ablution fountain: an octagonal basin enclosed with grilled windows between eight columns that hold up a small dome. Its marble surfaces are richly carved with floral arabesques. Tile panels have been used to decorate the lower sections of the portico façade, which has a mihrab niche and a balcony on either side of the mosque entrance.

The mosque has a plan similar to the Sehzade Mosque built half a century earlier by Mimar Sinan. Its rectangular prayer hall is covered by a large dome at its highest that is carried on pendentives with four grand arches elevated on four colossal piers. The dome is surrounded by four semi-domes, which in turn rest on three small semi-domes (longitudinal axis) or two semi-domes separated by an arch. Four independent domes cover the corners. The small semi-domes, or exedra semi-domes, help bring the upper structure down to the exterior walls except to the northwest, where the wall has been pushed outwards to make space for an internal arcade that houses the women’s section at the back of the congregation. Here, the semi-domes are carried on two smaller piers and two columns that reach the walls and the main piers with arches. The main piers also reach out to buttresses along the exterior walls by means of eight low arches that hang over the internal arcade as it wraps the mosque interior on three sides, ending at the qibla wall. The qibla end of the northeast gallery has been sectioned off to create the sultan’s lodge, which is accessed through the sultan’s kiosk outside the mosque. There is a marble muezzin’s platform adjoining the western pier. Three tiers of windows, in addition to windows at the bases of domes and semi-domes, illuminate the interior.

The late classical period decoration of the interior is dominated by blue and turquoise colored tiles that line the surfaces of the walls, arcades and the piers up to the level of the third windows. Painted arabesques with dominant hues of blue, red and green cover the remaining surfaces of walls, arches and vaulting. A multi-tiered muqarnas cornice braces the structure at the springing of the dome arches, merging with muqarnas pendentives of the exedra semi-domes on its way. There is a lesser cornice below the third windows that is highlighted with gold paint on the piers. The stone carving of the mihrab and the minbar are of note, as well as the mother-of-pearl woodwork of the preacher’s pulpit, windowpane and doors.

On the exterior, the ensemble is flanked on either side by a double-story arcade made up of alternating wide and narrow arches and marble balustrades. The arcade is covered with a slanting roof with wide eaves below the third tier of windows, and consists of three sections separated by protruding buttresses. The first section is a single story portico composed of three tall bays and abuts the base of the minaret near the courtyard wall. Reached by a cascading set of steps, the portico gives access to the mosque side entrance and the minaret steps on both sides of the mosque. The third section of the northeast arcade is a private entryway for the sultan’s kiosk protected with richly carved marble gates. There are additional ablution spigots along the basement walls of both arcades. Above, the pyramidal composition of domes and semi-domes is dominated by thick dome buttresses and their balancing turrets. The two minarets, located between the side entrances of the mosque and the courtyard, have three balconies of diminishing size that are adorned with muqarnas pendants and carved balustrades. The mosque was restored by the Directorate of Religious Endowments in 1936.

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