Saturday, August 11, 2018


Süleymaniye - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 1°00'59.0"N 28°57'50.0"E / 41.016389, 28.963889



This mosque is one of the incomparable architectural works that defines the silhouette and identity of Istanbul. Even though its grand size and dimensions, the Complex was one of the most significant construction operations in the history of the Ottoman Empire, it displays an overall simplicity and austerity. This is probably due to the personal preferences and religiosity of Sultan Süleyman, known as the Lawgiver. Many of the measurements relating to its construction are thought to have symbolic meanings.

The complex is located in Süleymaniye, the neighbourhood of Eminönü named after it. It was built by Sultan Süleyman, the Magnificent in 1557 and designed by Architect Sinan. The Süleymaniye Complex represented the second and most important stage in an architectural tradition which began with the Fatih Complex, namely a symmetrical grouping and use of geometric shaping among the layout of the complex buildings.

The Süleymaniye Complex is composed of 15 sections: 1-Mosque, 2-Rabi Madrasah (High School), 3-Salis Madrasah (Intermediate School), 4-Evvel Madrasah (Elementary School), 5-Sani Madrasah (Seconday School), 6-Tıp Madrasah (Medical School), 7-The Tomb of Suleiman the Magnificent, 8-The Tomb of the Hürrem Sultan (Roxelana, wife of the Suleiman the Magnificent ), 9-Türbedar (caretaker) Room, 10-Bimarhane (hospital), 11-Darüzziyafe (Restaurant, previously a soup kitchen in the 16th century), 12-Darülhadis Madrasah (school of traditions of the Prophet), 13-Tabhane (the hostel attached to a mosque where travellers usually dervishes and mystics) could live free for three days), 14-The Tomb of the Architect Sinan, 15-Bathhouse

The Süleymaniye Complex, consisting of a large number of courtyards and a caravansarai, was constructed starting on June 13, 1550 through October 15, 1557 by Architect Sinan (the grand old master of Ottoman architecture). A total of 3,523 workers were employed during the construction of the complex. There were 1,713 Muslim employees. Stones and columns of the complex were brought from different regions of the Ottoman Empire: Bozcaada, İzmit, Mut, Ezine, Gazze Lebanon, etc. In addition, other building materials were brought from different regions of the Ottoman Empire to be used in the complex.

The Süleymaniye Mosque and Complex incorporate the art and genius of Architect Sinan, the greatness and strenght of the Ottomans and the beauty and elegance of İstanbul. During the construction of the nosque, one of the largest building supply sheds in the history of architecture was realised. The supplies were brought from all corners of the Empire. The columns found in some ancient ruins were detached, brought to İstanbul and used in the interior of the mosque.

Various documents mention that the four main columns in the Mosque, one brought from the Artemis Temple in Ephesus, two from Egypt, and one from Istanbul, were erected to represent the four Caliphs of Islam. Overall, it displays the major canons, which became the bases of Sinan’s classical architecture and influenced subsequent periods as sources of design and building.

The mosque is surrounded by an outer courtyard with the kiblah, or direction to Mecca, being on one side along with an enclosed cemetery containing graves and a mausoleum; the opposite side of the kiblah contains an inner courtyard. The marble-covered inner courtyard is entered through a magnificent three-storey door the likes of which are seen in no other mosque in İstanbul. The courtyard contains a pool and water-jet fountain. Again unlike other mosques, the four minarets stand in the four corners of the courtyard. The proportion exhibited by the minarets and the domes is a product of genius.

The domes rise from the ground to a height of 50 meters, and the minarets located where the courtyard meets the walls of the mosque have three galleries and are 76 meters high. The minarets located at the side of the courtyard with the entrance have two galleries and are 56 meters high. This proportion is the key to the perfection of the mosque's silhouette. The mosque has a main dome supported by two half-domes. Due to the design of the domes, the acoustics within the mosque are exceptionally clear.

A huge dome covers the main chamber of the mosque, which has four minarets. The main entrance to the mosque is from an inner courtyard that is surrounded by porticoes and has an ablution fountain in the center. The spaciousness, unity and exquisite decorations add to the imposing view of the interior. The 53 m high central dome with a diameter of 26.50 m rests on four pillars called elephant-feet. All the architectural elements of the interior are in perfect harmony with one another. The static balance of the structure is faultless too.

The air circulation within the mosque is also exceptional and the space above the entrance is illuminated by 4000 candles. Soot obtained from the candles is one of the raw materials in the making of ink used for callgraphy.

The marble pulpit and mosque niche are works of art in the field of engraving and carving. The carved lectern of the preacher, window and doors of wood inlaid with mother-of-pearl, stained glass windows and other decorative features of mosques have a low profile; the emphasis in the interior of the mosque is on decorative through calligraphy. Verses from the Koran are inscribed on the walls in some of the supreme examples of the Turkish art of calligraphy.

Numerous earthquakes that have shaken Istanbul over the centuries have not caused a single crack in the building. The baroque decorations of the inside of the dome were made in the 19th century. The handmade carpet with a mihrap design covering the floor was placed here in the 1950's. The most attractive features of the interior are the extremely colorful, 16th century original stained glass windows with Turkish motifs in the wall of the mihrap. A very simple balcony for the chanters is situated next to the minber, and the mihrap niche made of marble is decorated with tiles. The sultan's loge is to the left of the mihrab.

The largest and most imposing mosque in Istanbul, the city of domes and minarets, is the Süleymaniye. The aesthetic supremacy of its interior and exterior and its perfect proportions have been captivating the visitors for centuries. The Süleymaniye Mosque is an architectural masterpiece. The 16th century was the golden age of the Ottoman Empire. Süleyman the Magnificent, the longest reigning among the thirty-six Ottoman sultans, ruled for 47 years in this century. The great sultan entrusted the construction of the mosque to bear his name to Sinan, the Süleymaniye, southern facade with stained glass windows, and the Friday congregation.

 Sinan completed the mosque and the large complex surrounding it between 1550-1557. The mosque was one of many demonstrations of the genius of Sinan, the father of classical Turkish architecture. The complex surrounding the mosque was composed of schools, a library, baths, public kitchens, caravanserai, a hospital and shops. The beauty of the exterior of the mosque is best appreciated from a distance.

The two minarets located at the two sides of the facade have two balconies each, and the two other two, which are at the other end of the square on each side öf the porch, have three balconies each. The total number, for the four minarets, yields ten balconies, all with corbelling in stalactites. Three beautiful doors whose openings are formed of flattened curues are each surmounted by an ogee arch and give access through the frontage and the two other sides of the courtyard.

A cloister of twenty four arcades runs around and is supported by an equal number of columns. The pair closest to the door in the facade are of porphyry;  of the remainder, twelve columns of pink granite alternate with ten of white marble. All are of the crystallized order. Their capitals are of white marble, and the edges of their stalactites heavily gilded.

The door of the nave is a niche decorated with stalactites, also fashioned from gilded white marble in a design of great purity and aspect of true monumentality. The proportions are large. Two other smaller niches are located along each side at half the distance between the entrance to the nave and the courtyard wall. The windows of the porch have quadrangular bays surmounted by ogee arches lavishly decorated with glazed tiles that have a royal blue ground on which beautiful Arabic letters are interlaced, tracing out in pure white sacred verses from the Quran.

A very simple fountain, in the form of a parallelogram with four vertical faces and covered by a zinc roof, occupies the center of the square. Its decoration, sober and gracious, consists of a metal grill painted in emerald green and an openwork lattice of geometrical rosettes, above which runs a frieze of white marble carued with broad leaves whose hearts are slightly tinted aquamarine.

The court is entirely paved with enormous flagstones of white marble, except for the passage which gives access, through the porch, inside the mosque. There, in front of.the main door, is placed a round monolithic flagstone of the richest porphyry with a diameter of approximately two meters.

Be that as it may, afterpassing over the legendary porphyry flagstone, we enter the nave, where we first of all are overcome by our admiration of the lofty and vast cupola of the dome, painted in a wash of clear tones of blue, white, and gold. These three colors form the basis of the entire decorative harmony of the building: its paintings, sculptures, precious marbles, tiles, etc, both inside and out. Everywhere, the white and blue dominate the white especially. A few pink granite and porphyry columns or insets, a few lines the color of blood, freshen the light without interrupting this harmony; the gildings of the stalactites are everywhere applied with a solemnity that does not disturb the tranquility.

Another curiosity worthy of remark, and which could be proposed as an example to architects, is the following one: tunnels dug in the ground and faced with solid masonry, lead from the interior of the mosque to external tanks that are used for the distribution of water to all the dependencies of the Süleymaniye. The famous architect of this mosque, Master Sinan, combined this supply so as to take advantage of it in order to maintain inside the nave a mild and uniform temperature. By means of wooden trap doors that are located all over the central part of the floor of the nave, the air contained in these underground tunnels is fed into the mosque, where, as a result, the temperature is always warm in winter and cool in summer.

All the inscriptions that decorate the Süleymaniye were executed by the famous calligrapher Hasan Çelebi, who is buried beside his master in Sütlüce by the Sweet Teaters of Europe. Among the outstanding calligraphic ornamentation one should particularly mention the large rosettes of glazed tiles adorned with white letters on a royal blue ground and framed by borders of foliage executed in turquoise blue which decorate the two sides of the mihrab. Like the pulpitp laced to its left, the mihrab is made of white marble, cazved in stalactites that are gilded with gold. The marble plates composing the pulpit number only four. The gate and base are formed of single slabs and measure eight meters, one in its length and the other in its height.

T'hese are also the measurements of the niche in which the mihrab is set. The imperial loge, situated at the right, is also of white. It is supported by porphyry columns with capitals in the crystallized order that are fashioned of gilded white marble. There are two richly decorated fountains that are intended for ablutions. The door of this loge is, like all the woodwork of the building, engulfed in carved geometric rosettes. A kürsü (pulpit) abutting the pillar closer to the imperial loge is also worthy of mentioning for the remarkable

Excecution of work of this last kind, in which walnut has been finely cut with open-work and carved with boldness and delicacy. At the other end of the nave, on the pillar on the opposite side, the balcony of the müezzin is set. Simpler, but almost as beautiful as the imperial loge, it is also of the crystallized order. Behind the muezzin's balcony along the low sides, is located the library, separated from the nave by a superb screen of brass worked in rococo ornamentation. It was repaired during the reign of Sultan Mahmud I by his grand vizier, Mustafa Pasha. More recently, this screen was renovated by Ahmed Vefik Efendi.

In one honorable exception the tomb of Master Sinan was respected, and thus, thanks to the very special indulgence of the sovereign, one may see still see standing over the slab of white marble, the grandmaster Ottoman architecture, the typical turban of the haseki corps. The principal dependencies of the Süleymaniye are: a special college for the study of the oral traditions of the Prophet; four higher schools (medreses); a preparatory college for the sciences; a school of medicine; a primary school; a kitchen and hospice for students; a great public bath; and a very famous asylum for lunatics.

Located in the Süleymaniye Mosque Complex, the mausoleum of Sultan Süleyman, the Magnificent was designed by the Architect Sinan in 1566. The kiblah side of the mosque has a covered cemetery with a great number of graves, the tombs of Süleyman, the Magnificent and his wife Hürrem Sultan and a room for the keeper of the tombs. The octagonal mausoleum has an impressive dome and its exterior is ornamented with marble and mirrors, while the interior walls are covered with glazed tiles. Ceramic tiles with decorative plant motif are used in the tombs and have artistic value.

This is the tomb of the great architect Sinan, who lived to be ninety-nine years old and was for 50 years the extremely esteemed and respected chief architect of the empire. Sinan was a diligent and productive architect who left over four hundred works behind him. He is the most important figure in classical Turkish architecture, of which he was the originator. His apprentices created masterpieces not only in the empire, but also in other Islamic countries.

In the tomb belonging to Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent are the remains of Sultan Ahmed II, his wife Rabia Sultan, daughters Mihrimah Sultan and Asiye Sultan, and Sultan Süleyman II and his mother Saliha Dilaşub Sultan. Sultan Ahmed II and Sultan Süleyman II were interred beside Süleyman the Magnificent in the grounds of the Süleymaniye Camii.

The clinic, hospital, mental asylum and infirmary are located in the northwest of the complex parallel to the kiblah. A part of the medical school located alongside of these two madrasahs collapsed during the road opening work and the rest of it was turned into a hospital. The building located on the right side of the Medical School and the crossband of the coutryard of the mosque was used as an insane asylum during the Ottoman Empire era.

The soup kitchen of the complex the Darüzziyafe, functions today as a restaurant serving classical Turkish cuisine.

The medresse of complex is found to the east and west of the mosque along the walls of the inner courtyard. To the west is the Evvel Medresse, Sani Medresse, Primary School, Medical West; the Rabi Medresse and Salis Medresse are located to the east. The Darülhadis Medresse intersect. It is a single hamam for men only and was restored in 1980 after being used as a store room for a period.

The hamam of the complex is located where Rabi Medrese and Darülhadis Medrese intersect. It is a single hamam for men only and was restored in 1980 after being used as a store room for a period.

Tabhane (the hostel attached to a mosque where travelers (usually dervishes and mystics) could live free for three days) are located on the road toward the northwest part of the complex and over against the courtyard.

There are six madrasahs of the complex with the Medical School. Those madrasahs toward the direction of Bayezit are Evvel Madrasah (Elementary School) and Sani Madrasah (Secondary School) which are used as the Suleymaniye Library.


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