Şakirin Mosque

The Sakarin Mosque
Courtyard of the Şakirin Mosque

Visit because

This is an outstanding contemporary mosque in a unique location where the cultures and architectures of east and west meet.

It is thought to be the only mosque in the world to have been designed by a female architect.


About the Şakirin Mosque

The Şakirin Mosque, located on the Asian side of Istanbul in the district of Üsküdar, is some distance from many of the more famous buildings in Istanbul. I visited when I was working on a project to design a mosque for Aberdeen in my fourth year at architecture school. We chose to take the boat across the Bosphorus and walk from the ferry terminal up to the mosque. This is a relatively lengthy walk but a nice way to see more of the Asian part of the city.

Entrance to the Sakarin Mosque.
The mosque is approached by a ceremonial stair leading to a sahn, or courtyard.

Designed by Hüsrev Tayla and Zeynep Fadillioglu, the layout of the mosque sits largely within the tradition of mosque architecture. A sahn surrounded by a riwaq, or courtyard surrounded by a cloister to use terminology more familiar toEuropean architecture, precedes the main entrance in to the mosque building. This entrance court is a common feature of Islamic religious architecture and on Fridays worshippers will often occupy the sahn to pray if the main prayer hall is full. At the centre of the sahn is a pool with domed fountain, referred to as a howz if using appropriate terminology, the globe shape perhaps referencing the striking dome of the mosque building.

Courtyard of the Sakarin Mosque
At the centre of the sahn, with the prayer hall directly ahead, is a howz containing a domed fountain.

The mosque building itself houses little more than the prayer hall, which is spectacular if a little garish for my taste. The mihrab, traditionally a curved element in the qibla wall (the wall parallel to Mecca), is abstracted in to a sculptural work of art that immediately draws the eye. The minbar, where the imam delivers his sermon during Friday prayers, is made from acrylic and designed by Tayfun Erdoğmuş. The impressive chandelier was designed by Nahide Büyükkaymakçı. Where the spatial layouts of many older mosques treat the positioning of women within the prayer hall as a secondary consideration, Fadillioglu has worked to ensure their experience praying in the mosque is very much equal. When in the lower level of the prayer hall where the men pray, the full volume of the space is apparent; while on the balcony of the prayer hall where the woman pray, the full beauty of the chandelier, dripping with glass globules, is apparent. Both have architectural merit in their own, equal, way.

Mihrab at the Sakarin mosque.
The mihrab is abstracted to become an eye-catching sculptural work of art.
Chandelier of the Sakirin Mosque.
The impressive chandelier was designed by Nahide Büyükkaymakçi and is a contemporary twist on the impressive chandeliers often found hanging from the domes of traditional mosques in Istanbul.

Unlike ancient mosques where the sole focus of the light is from above, the Şakirin Mosque is glazed on three sides. The glazing sits between the giant arches that support the dome and is screened with Arabic calligraphy drawn in gold. This is perhaps where the architecture fails to impress. The building is just too bright and lacks all of the subtlety of more historic mosques where the light draws your eyes upwards towards heaven. Tanizaki explores the power of shadow in his book In Praise of Shadows. Certainly in a religious context, his ideas very much hit the mark.


Dome of the Sakirin Mosque.
The dome of the Şakirin Mosque is a striking design of contemporary architecture.

Visiting details: Şakirin Mosque

It is free to visit the Şakirin Mosque. Shoes must be removed when visiting the mosque and there are separate areas for men and women in the prayer hall.

Woman should dress appropriately and cover their hair.

Website: www.sakirincamii.net