President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday inaugurated the largest mosque in Turkey, in a move that seals his Islamist rule and has drawn criticism from the opposition.
The opening of Çamlıca Mosque after six years of construction coincides with the holy month of Ramadan starting next Monday, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
The 63,000-person-capacity mosque on İstanbul’s Çamlıca Hill on the Asian side of the city was opened by Erdoğan at Friday prayer.
Built in the Ottoman-Seljuk style of architecture, the mosque can easily be seen from every corner of the city.
It is not only a mosque but also a complex that includes a museum of Turkish Islamic art, a library, an art gallery, a conference hall and workshops as well as a parking lot to accommodate 3,500 cars.
The construction of the mosque has attracted some criticism even from Islamist figures.
Last week Turkey’s Islamist opposition party leader Temel Karamollaoğlu slammed President Erdoğan for building the mosque, stating that it was a total waste considering the location and size.
“How could you fill a mosque of that size on Çamlıca Hill?” Karamollaoğlu tweeted.
Prominent Turkish architects also criticized the project for being merely a carbon copy of Ottoman-Seljuk style. They said it would hardly be a symbol of 21st century Turkey because it failed to come up with an innovative approach, according to the Hürriyet daily.
It has six minarets representing the six beliefs of Islam. Four minarets are 107.1 meters high, a tribute to the 1071 Manzikert victory of the Seljuk Turks against the Byzantine army that opened up Anatolia for Turkish domination.
Its 72-meter-high main dome represents 72 nations living in the city. The second dome with a diameter of 34 meters represents the license number plate for İstanbul.
There are 16 names of Allah inscribed inside the dome, symbolizing the number of states founded by Turks.
A three-piece finial on the main dome, weighing 4.5 tons and at a height of 7.77 meters, is the largest of its kind.
A 17,000-square-meter carpet rolled out at the mosque is a specially designed hand-knotted carpet. The minbar of the mosque, a pulpit from which sermons of Friday and religious festivals are delivered, is 21 meters high and can be lifted through an elevator.
The mosque can host eight funeral prayers at a time.