Since its debut three years ago in Turkey's largest city Istanbul, the Grand Mosque of Camlica has welcomed 25 million visitors.
The mosque is Turkey's most contemporary complex, containing an art gallery, library, conference hall, art workshop, and the newly opened Museum of Islamic Civilizations, in addition to being a grand place of prayer.
The massive mosque, whose design was completed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and whose foundation was set on Istanbul's landmark Camlica Hill, combines Ottoman and Seljuk architecture.
The architecture of the Mosque
Four of the mosque's minarets are 107.1 metres (352 feet) tall, commemorating the Seljuk Turks' victory over the Byzantine army in Malazgirt (Manzikert), eastern Turkey, in 1071, which opened Anatolia to Turkish settlement.
The city's 72 nationalities are represented by the central dome, which rises 72 metres (236 feet) above the ground. The second dome is 34 metres (112 feet) and has Istanbul's official licence number.
Its main gate, which weighs 6 tonnes and rises 6.5 metres (21 feet) tall with a 5-meter width, is one of the world's largest.
In the mosque complex, there are eight art workshops, a 3,500 square metre (37,670 square foot) art gallery, a 3,000 square metre (32,290 square foot) library, a conference hall with a capacity of 1,071 seats, and an indoor parking lot for 3,500 cars.
Must-see attraction in Istanbul
The mosque welcomed worshippers on March 7, 2019 and was officially launched on May 3 of the same year, according to Ergin Kulunk, head of the Istanbul Mosque and Culture Service Units Construction and Sustenance Association.
He claimed that the mosque project was prepared and completed in 60 months, and that it drew more attention than intended.
Despite a low number of visits during the COVID-19 pandemic, the mosque has seen an increase in visitors since the number of coronavirus cases in Turkey has decreased, according to Kulunk.
"The most recent example of this was Laylat al-Qadr. We had a great turnout. Around 25,000 people, I believe, attended the mosque. Our tourists and those who prefer to worship in our mosque come from nearly every corner of Turkey."
Library books top 50,000
Kulunk also mentioned that the Museum of Islamic Civilizations first opened at the start of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month. More than 150,000 people have visited the museum since it opened last month, he said. The mosque's library, which is open till midnight, has 50,000 books.
Museum Opening and Contents
The Museum of Islamic Civilizations, according to its director, Nezih Ertug, opened at the beginning of Ramadan.
"One of the aspects that distinguishes our museum is that objects that have never been exhibited in any museum or exhibition before are on display for the first time," he explained.
The museum has 15 themed areas, such as woven Turkish art and architectural and ornamental features in Islamic art, with almost 800 objects showing the history of Islamic art from the 7th to the 19th century.
Items on display
Many other items, including the curtain of Mecca's sacred Kaaba, sultan's caftans, Mehmed the Conqueror's boyhood notebook, and Ottoman-era coinage, are on display at the museum.
The sword of Suleiman the Magnificent, which was brought from the Topkapi Palace, is also one of the museum's notable works, according to Ertug.
According to history books, the first Ottoman coin was minted during the Orhangazi period, but Ertug went on to say: "The first coin was discovered to be issued by Osmangazi, not Orhangazi, according to the most recent research. We brought this coin to our museum, which is the only one in the world."
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