Ankara, July 3 () - Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan has inaugurated a mosque on the grounds of the gargantuan new presidential palace in Ankara and opened it to the public, while highlighting a Quranic verse praising “patience.”
“I am praying to God that the prayers recited in this mosque will be accepted by Him,” Erdoğan said while opening Beştepe People’s Mosque on July 3.
Above the 6.75-meter-high marble door of the mosque, Erdoğan added, the 24th verse of Quran’s Rad surah (chapter) “welcomes” visitors.
“Peace be upon you for what you patiently endured. And excellent is the final home” the verse reads in Arabic.
Erdoğan has been accused of squandering state resources by building the controversial 1,150-room presidential palace, and the mosque is “an apparent effort to stave off more criticism over his state spending” according to the Associated Press.
The ruling party, founded by Erdoğan, lost its parliamentary majority in last month’s elections, a blow to Erdoğan’s ambitions to turn the largely ceremonial presidency into an executive post.
Opposition parties made the palace a theme of their election campaigns, forcing the president onto the defensive. There have even been accusations of gold-plated toilet seats, which Erdoğan vehemently denied.
The mosque inside the controversial presidential premises occupies 1,200 square meters and can host 3,000 worshippers. Its four 40-meter-high minarets are visible from many parts of the city, becoming one of the largest mosques in Ankara, alongside the Kocatepe Mosque and the Ahmet Hamdi Akseki Mosque.
Architectural motifs from both the Seljuk and Ottoman eras have been used in the new mosque.
Erdoğan said that in addition to staff working at the presidential palace, the mosque will be available to all citizens, who would enter the mosque from a separate entrance gate.
He has referred to the huge palace as the “Presidential Külliye” since its unveiling in October of last year. “Külliye” refers to an Ottoman architectural concept that designates a complex with a central mosque surrounded by a series of ancillary buildings such as hospitals, libraries and public fountains.
A congress hall and Turkey’s biggest library are also currently under construction inside the premises. The library, which will hold a total of five million books, will be open to students 24 hours.
Meanwhile, ministries and state institutions that have so far opted to hold larger meetings at the nearby Ankara Chamber of Congress Hall will soon be able to use the hall inside the new palace.