Gebze1The Asian side of İstanbul tends to get overlooked by short-term visitors even though there are regular buses from the Harem otogar.

One possible destination that few people seem to know about is Gebze, a small town that has been effectively swallowed up by the Greater İstanbul sprawl but which boasts one of the most impressive mosque complexes outside the city centre.Gebze2

The 16th-century Çoban Mustafa Paşa Cami is surely one of the finest unsung architectural masterpieces in Turkey although it hides its charms behind a lofty wall. 

Dating back to the 16th century, it boasts some Egyptian-style decorative marblework both on the façade and in the interior.

But what makes it so particularly splendid is that it still retains its entire külliye (complex), complete with guestrooms, a caravanserai, a hamam, a library and the founder's tomb, all set around the walls of a courtyard full of trees where old men while away the days away in the shade.


The mosque's setting has been improved by recent development, which has provided an open square with fountains beside it. Sit down in the courtyard to soak up the sun with the locals and the world beyond the walls will feel as if it doesn’t exist.

The mosque alone is reason enough to visit Gebze, but with time on your hands you might want to journey out to the grounds of the TÜBİTAK scientific research institute to inspect a monument, originally erected at Atatürk’s behest, to Hannibal, the great Carthaginian general who marched across the Alps with his elephants to defeat the Romans.

Hannibal decided to retire to Bithynia which was governed by his friend King Prusias I. Urged by the Romans to extradite Hannibal, Prusias agreed, whereupon 64-year-old Hannibal poisoned himself.

You'll need your passport or kimlik to get into the grounds.

Transport info

There are regular minibuses to Gebze from Harem Otogar on the Asian side of İstanbul.
Some of the high-speed trains between Pendik (İstanbul) and Ankara stop at Gebze.
From Gebze you can easily visit Eskihisar and Hereke.


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