The Fatih was the first great imperial mosque built in İstanbul following the Conquest. Mehmet the Conqueror chose to locate it on the hilltop site of the ruined Church of the Apostles, burial place of Constantine and other Byzantine emperors. Mehmet decided to be buried here as well; his tomb is behind the mosque and is inevitably filled with worshippers.
The original külliye (mosque complex), finished in 1470, was enormous. Set in extensive grounds, it included 15 charitable establishments such as medreses (Islamic schools of higher studies), a hospice for travellers and a caravanserai. Many of these still stand; the most interesting is the multidomed tabhane (inn for travelling dervishes) to the southeast of the mosque. Its columns are said to have been originally used in the Church of the Apostles.
Unfortunately the mosque you see today is not the one Mehmet built. The original stood for nearly 300 years before toppling in an earthquake in 1766. The current baroque-style mosque was constructed between 1767 and 1771.
The front courtyard of the mosque is a favourite place for locals to congregate. On Wednesday the streets behind and to the north of the mosque host the Çarşamba Pazarı (Wednesday Market), selling food, clothing and household goods.