Turkey has been home to numerous civilizations each making Turkey a center of different beliefs, religions and places of worship. From Istanbul, Izmir, Hatay to Mardin, there is a wealth of religion, history and architecture for you to explore at these fascinating religious centers. You can visit all the places mentioned below by flying with Turkish Airlines.
Grand Synagogue of Edirne
Began to be constructed by the French architect France Depre in 1906 to replace 14 former synagogues that had been reduced to ashes in the great fire of 1905, the Grand Synagogue of Edirne opened for religious service in 1907 with the name “Kal Kados ha Godal”. As Balkan’s biggest and Europe’s third biggest synagogue, it had been used actively for service until the 1960s.
Sveti Stefan Church
Subsidiary of the Bulgarian Exarchy in Balat, Sveti Stefan Church is the only iron church in the world that’s been able to be preserved. Cast iron framework of the church was prepared in Vienna and brought to Istanbul over Danube River and Black Sea in 1892. It’s been constructed by Armenian architect Hovsep Aznavour.
Neve Shalom Synagogue
Opened on March 25th, 1951, 10.30 AM with a ceremony held by the leader of the congregation Rav Rafael Saban, Neve Shalom Synagogue has a dome that carries an immensely heavy chandelier and glasses that were imported from England.
Constructed by Sedefkar Mehmed Ağa between the years 1609 and 1617, after being instructed by Sultan Ahmed. Blue Mosque started to be called with this name by Europeans referring to it’s green and white İznik tiles and it’s blue-heavy ornamentations. Blending the traditional Islamic architecture with the Byzantine influences borrowed from its neighboring Hagia Sophia, it is the biggest of the late classical era mosques.
The Patriarchal Cathedral Church of St. George
It was constructed by Saint Andrea, an apostle of Christ, in the 4th century. Church of St. George has gained a special place in the Orthodox world by having been located in the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire and being the principal cathedral among the Orthodox churches.
Grand Mosque of Bursa
Constructed between the years 1396 and 1400 during the reign of Yıldırım Bayezid, Grand Mosque is the first monumental multi-domed structure amongst the Ottoman mosques. It has a sixteen-sided pond with a fountain in the middle with three basins circling it. Grand Mosque is regarded as the 5th highest degree mosque in Islam.
House of Virgin Mary
Located on Mount Koressos in the Ancient City of Ephesus located in Izmir, a sanctuary for Catholics and Muslims both, it is discovered in the 19th century after the reported dreams that a Catholic priestess Anne Catherine Emmerich had.
Started to be constructed in 1273 after the death of Mevlana (Rumi), the mausoleum sits on four elephant-foot columns and is a Seljuk masterpiece. Museum grounds is 6500 square meters but with the addition of new areas arranged as rose gardens, it covers 18000 square meters in total.
Hacı Bektaş Veli Complex
Constructed in the 13th century for one of the greatest thinkers in the history of Islam, Hacı Bektaş Veli mausoleum is not just considered a historical structure but a center where the Bektashi teachings which see and accept everyone as equals. It is still felt in this day and it is where these teachings expanded into the world from.
Believed to be constructed by two priests from Athens in 365, the monastery was renovated and expanded in the 6th century by the order of Justinian. With the addition of grand buildings in the 19th century, the monastery got even more awe-inspiring. It got this name from the word “melas” which means “black”.
Built in the name of Sultan Selim II in the 16th century, Selimiye Mosque, with its technical perfection, dimensions and aesthetic values, is considered as one of the greatest works of back then and the following periods. Labeled as his masterpiece by Mimar Sinan, Selimiye Mosque has been accepted into UNESCO World Heritage List in 2011.