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Turkey: Eyüp Sultan Mosque

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Eyüp Sultan Mosque | Turkey | Europe

[Visited: April 2006]

Once a village, and outside the city walls of Istanbul, Eyüp has since long grown to be part of Istanbul. It is actually named after Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, who was a close friend, follower and bodyguard of the Prophet Mohamed, one of the early adapters of Islam and part of the early Islam leadership. He fell in one of the many battles carrying Islam's banner and was buried outside the walls. Much later, in the 15th century a new mosque was built with the tomb of Ayyub next to it. It ranks fourth of sacred Muslim sites in the world, after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem.

Picture of Eyüp Sultan Mosque (Turkey): Ayyub al-Ansari tomb: girls studying koranic texts

A boat ride down the Golden Horn from Eminönü takes you to the district of Eyüp. You can clearly see the extensive cemetery on the hills on the bend in the Golden Horn, and you know that you are about to arrive. Once docked, a short walk takes you to the Eyüp Sultan Camii, or Mosque of the Great Eyüp. Inside a small courtyard, an enormous tree that supposedly was planted by Mehmet the Conqueror gives shade, and the outer wall of Ayyub's tomb, completely covered by blue tiles, is strikingly beautiful. Worshippers constantly come here to pray - it is believed that prayers made here, are always accepted.

Picture of Eyüp Sultan Mosque (Turkey): Ayyub al-Ansari at Eyüp with the blue-tiled wall and worshippers

Opposite the tomb is a mosque, around the courtyard are some very high arches with typical Islamic decorations, but the main draw of Eyüp is the tomb of Ayyub al-Ansari. After taking off your shoes, you come in through a curtain, and in an adjoining room, you see the tomb. People are immersed in deep prayer, then halt at the footstep of Mohammed on display in a small glass box in the wall. They leave the room walking backwards, so as not to turn their backs on the tomb. After visiting this monumental building, it is a good idea to walk up the cemetery. Many Muslims want to be buried here, which explains the vastness of the cemetery. Furthermore, you also get goods views over the city. Higher up, you can find Pierre Loti café, named after the French novelist who lived in Eyüp.

Picture of Eyüp Sultan Mosque (Turkey): Eyüp: one of the many tombstones in the cemetery
Picture of Eyüp Sultan Mosque (Turkey): Tomb of Ayyub al-Ansari with old man
Picture of Eyüp Sultan Mosque (Turkey): Mosque of the Great Eyüp: decorated arches holding up the roof
Picture of Eyüp Sultan Mosque (Turkey): Lane leading down the cemetery of Eyüp
Picture of Eyüp Sultan Mosque (Turkey): Tombstones of Eyüp
Picture of Eyüp Sultan Mosque (Turkey): Tiles and calligraphy at Eyüp, on the wall of the tomb of Ayyub al-Ansari
Picture of Eyüp Sultan Mosque (Turkey): Worshippers pray at the tomb of Ayyub al-Ansari at Eyüp
Picture of Eyüp Sultan Mosque (Turkey): Old Turkish woman washing her hands after praying at the tomb of Ayyub al-Ansari in Eyüp
Picture of Eyüp Sultan Mosque (Turkey): Giant tree with fence in the courtyard of the mosque of Eyüp
Picture of Eyüp Sultan Mosque (Turkey): Square with fountain and the mosque of the Great Eyüp
Picture of Eyüp Sultan Mosque (Turkey): Main cupola of the mosque of the Great Eyüp
Picture of Eyüp Sultan Mosque (Turkey): Tombs and stairs covered by plants in the cemetery of Eyüp
Picture of Eyüp Sultan Mosque (Turkey): Walking down a principal street of the cemetery of Eyüp

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