Only in İstanbul would a 400-year-old mosque be called 'new'. Constructed between 1597 and 1665, its design references both the Blue Mosque and the Süleymaniye Mosque, with a large forecourt and a square sanctuary surmounted by a series of semidomes crowned by a grand dome. The interior is richly decorated with gold leaf, İznik tiles and carved marble.
Originally commissioned by Valide Sultan Safiye, mother of Sultan Mehmet III, the mosque was completed six sultans later by order of Valide Sultan Turhan Hadice, mother of Sultan Mehmet IV.
The site had earlier been occupied by a community of Karaite Jews, radical dissenters from Orthodox Judaism. When the valide sultan decided to build her grand mosque here, the Karaites were moved to Hasköy, a district further up the Golden Horn that still bears traces of their presence.
The mosque's proportions aren't as pleasing as the city's other imperial mosques and neither are its tiles. This reflects the fact that there was a diminution in the quality of the products coming out of the İznik workshops in the second half of the 17th century. Compare the tiles here with the exquisite examples found in the nearby Rüstem Paşa Mosque, which are from the high period of İznik tile work, and this will immediately become apparent. Nonetheless, the mosque is a popular place of worship and a much-loved adornment to the city skyline. Note that it is closed to visitors during prayer times and on Fridays before 2.30pm.
Across the road from the mosque is the türbe (tomb) of Valide Sultan Turhan Hadice. Buried with her are no fewer than six sultans, including her son Mehmet IV, plus dozens of imperial princes and princesses. Her türbe was closed for restoration at the time of research.
If it is open, be sure to visit the Hünkar Kasrı, once the sultan's waiting room, located above the grand archway on the eastern side of the mosque.