The Rüstem Pasa Camii is located above the Hasircilar Carsisi, the Weavers' Market, in the Eminönü district next to the Golden Horn, in the Tahtakale neighborhood of Istanbul. To the west of the mosque is a cemetery, and a square was later added behind its qibla wall. As indicated by a four-line inscription, the mosque was commissioned by the Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasa, son-in-law of Suleyman the Magnificent, and was built by Mimar Sinan in 1561. However, scholars claim that, considering the Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasa's death date, it is probable that the mosque was ordered by his widow in his memory and completed later. It was constructed in the place of a Byzantine church converted into a mosque in the fifteenth century by Haci Halil Aga. The mosque constitutes the third in a series of edifices designed by Sinan at the request of the Grand Vizier, following the Rüstem Pasa Madrasa in 1550 and the Rüstem Pasa Mosque in Tekirdag in 1553.
Oriented along the north-east axis, the mosque is elevated on the plateau of a vaulted substructure containing the marketplace. It consists of an octagonal basic structure inscribed into a rectangular prayer hall flanked by two wings. The mosque is covered with a central dome elevated to a cylindrical drum, while a five-dome portico adjacent to the northeastern elevation is adjoined by a second exterior portico with a pitched roof. A cylindrical minaret emerges from the western corner of the prayer hall. Four staircases, enclosed in an equal number of vestibules, offer access to the elevated plateau of the mosque. Two of them adjoin the northwestern part of the substructure's northeastern and the southwestern sides and the rest are incorporated within the southeastern corners of the marketplace. The main entrance to the mosque is located in the center of the northeastern elevation of the mosque.
The marketplace consists of a cross-vaulted warehouse occupying the ground floor of the main edifice of the mosque. Two slender barrel-vaulted stores correspond to the upper floor's double porticos, and a series of vaulted shops align to the northwest of the two stores, with a fountain in the center. The Rüstem Pasa Mosque rises on the terrace of the substructure, thus constituting the second storey of the complex. A pitched-roof wooden portico with slightly pointed arches partially occupies the northeastern and the southwestern elevations of the mosque and adjoins the northwestern side of the five-dome portico with arches supported by columns with muqarnas capitals. Accessed by a main entrance placed on the middle of the northwestern façade of the portico, the prayer hall is covered by a central dome flanked by double-height wings, which are cloister-vaulted on the northeast and barrel-vaulted on the southwest. The dimensions of the prayer hall are approximately 26.8 by 19.6 meters, with the qibla wall along the longer side. The central dome, with a diameter of 15.2 meters and a height of approximately 22.8 meters, is raised on a cylindrical drum on an octagonal base. This base is supported by eight octagonal pillars placed on the corners of the octagon; four of them partially buried inside the walls, and four of them are free-standing, tied by semi-circular arches. Squinches intervene between the cylindrical drum and the octagonal base, transferring the load to the pillars through muqarnas pendentives. Four semi-domes are placed on the diagonals of the prayer hall. The mihrab is covered with a muqarnas semi-dome. The base of the minaret is embedded in the western corner of the prayer hall. The interior is lit by twenty-four apertures on the drum of the central dome, along with two series of rectangular openings on the walls of the first and second floor and the grille-covered openings located within the tympanums of the main arches.
The interior of the mosque, and a part of the exterior northwestern elevation of the prayer hall, are clad with colored Iznik tile panels decorated with floral arabesques. Red and white stones form the arches supporting the central dome and the slightly pointed arch that crowns the wooden doorway of the main entrance. The roofs of the side wings are decorated with wooden colored reliefs organized into geometric patterns. Floral frescoes decorate the center of each dome, while Thuluth inscription plaques are placed above the doorways, and medallions with Arabic inscriptions are situated between the arches of the external portico and on the squinches.
The mosque was damanged by fire in 1660 and by an earthquake in 1766; in both instances, the damage was immediately repaired. Nineteenth-century Baroque frescoes, layered over the surfaces of the four semi-domes on the sides of the octaglon, were removed during a 1960-1961 restoration organized by the religious foundation. The Rüstem Pasa Mosque was most recently restored between 1964-1969, and now functions as a mosque and monument.
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