A MAGNIFICENT MOSQUE: MOLLA FENARİ MOSQUE
Spread across Turkey are beautiful and magnificent mosques. Some were carried into the present thanks to
preservation efforts, and some were built in the recent past depending on modern architectural practices.
Almost in every city in Turkey, you can find one mosque which everybody agrees is the one everybody should visit. Of course, many of these mosques happen to be in İstanbul. Süleymaniye Mosque, Eyüp Sultan Mosque, Fatih Mosque, Ortaköy Mosque are among the highlights. There is also Molla Fenari Mosque, a mosque which holds a special place and whose story dates way back in history.
Located in İstanbul’s Fatih, right by the famous Vatan Caddesi, also known as Adnan Menderes Boulevard, Molla Fenari Mosque was built as a church in 907 by the Byzantine aristocrat and admiral Constantine Lips during Leon VI’s reign. It was originally named “Moni tu Libos”.
A second, L shaped structure surrounding the church’s west and south side was constructed in the 14th century, turning it into a magnificent piece of architecture. An important religious destination during the Byzantine era, the church was used until the city was seized by Fatih the Conquerer in the 15th century.
It’s unknown when Christians abandoned the church completely. It was rediscovered abandoned during Bayezid II and was converted into a masjid by Alâeddin Ali Efendi in the late 15th century.
A fire in 1633 which destroyed much of İstanbul, also destroyed the newly-converted masjid. It was converted into a mosque after Grand Vizier Bayram Pasha commissioned the structure’s renovation and ordered the addition of a pulpit. In the late 17th century, mosque’s imam Sheikh İsa El-Mahvi used mosque’s one wing and old church cells as his private rooms – which is the reason the mosque was renamed as “Fenari İsa”.
A second fire in 1782 left the mosque in ruins. Handed to the Mihrişah Valide Sultan Foundation, it was later renovated with the permission of the Sultan in 1831. When a third fire destroyed the structure in 1918, it was abandoned and used by people who turned it into an illegal slaughterhouse. It’s minaret was taken down in 1942 and the structure was left in ruins for many years. It was only in 1960 that it was renovated completely. It was reopened
to the public in 1967.
Molla Fenari Mosque was once again went under a restoration project in 2019. The mosque’s carpets were
manufactured by Çelebizade Halı. A blue color was used in carpets to match the grey walls, and leaf motives on the walls were supported by green lines in the carpets.