On my Bosphorus Tour in Istanbul with Efendi Travel, our guide Mehmet points out to a mosque that sits right on the Uskudar port. Uskudar is one of the busiest ports on the Asian side of Istanbul. There is nothing spectacular about the mosque. It is small compared to the monumental mosques such as Suleymaniye and Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque) in the Old City section of Istanbul. Later, I learn that it is actually the smallest mosque that Great Architect Sinan has built.
But, there is an interesting story about this mosque. It is called Semsi Ahmet Pasha Mosque. It is built in 1580. According to the rumors, Semsi Pasha tells the Grand Vizier Sokullu Mehmet Pasha that the mosque Sokollu had Sinan build had bird droppings on it and it looks dirty. Sokollu tells Semsi Ahmet Pasha that any building opening to the sky gets its share from the birds. Years later, Semsi Pasha asks Architect Sinan to build a mosque for him that no birds can leave their droppings on it. That translates to Architect Sinan as a place where no birds can fly over since birds neither have an etiquette about where to poop nor they wear diapers.
Architect Sinan finds a location, right at the Uskudar port, next to the sea, where the winds from the Black Sea and the winds from the Marmara Sea intersect. If you ever go to that port, you see the constant motion of the waves crushing due to the opposing winds. The openings in the rocks under the mosque amplifies the sound of the waves. The winds whirl around and clash about the minaret. And these two phenomena scare the birds and they go do their business elsewhere.
Now, this mosque is known as the Kuskonmaz Camii by the locals, meaning “Mosque where no birds can land”.
After Mehmet told me this story, I went there twice and walked around the mosque and saw no birds flying above and around it. Unfortunately, I could not enter the mosque to hear the sounds. Every time I went there it was the prayer time and the place was not open to the visitors. I was wondering if Architect Sinan has built this mosque not to let me in too. I do not have the keen eye sight and hearing of the birds. But, I am well trained!