Sunday, May 27, 2018


Laleli, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'30.5"N 28°57'19.7"E / 41.008472, 28.955472


Myrelaion Monastery is one of those Christian churches converted into mosques. Every time I visit such places I feel my heart in anguish, but I also sense some uncertainty, because you never know in what degree the initial building suffered alterations. The name of the current mosque is Bodrum Camii. The beautiful monastery, with its distinctive architecture, typical to that Byzantine age: a smaller dome, which doesn’t touch directly the main structure - the two architectural elements being joined by a cylindrical tympanum.

The monastery endured much destruction and it was eventually abandoned after the fire of 1911, resting half-buried into the ground, beneath earth, rocks and rubbish. Archaeological excavations began in 1965, with the purpose of digging up the monastery. In 1986 the monastery was restored and in the next year it was reopened as a mosque, retaining this purpose until this day.

At first sight, the interior of the church looks like an ordinary mosque. Only the right-sided positioning of the mihrab indicates the Christian origin of the building. On a closer look, the trilobated sanctuary with its three independent domes becomes evident, and so does the cross formed by the four crossed arches which support the Byzantine dome. After such destruction and desolation, the place where once was the sanctuary treasures now only one preserved fresco.

The fresco depicts Empress Theodora kneeling with her arms open and praying to the Mother of God, Who has her right hand reaching towards the Empress and her left hand holding Christ the Savior. The outward niches girdling the church bestow harmony and elegance on its external appearance.

The Bodrum mosque was formerly the Church of the Monastery of Myrelaion. It is located in Laleli, a part of today’s İstanbul’s historical peninsula. The Myrelaion Church was built on a cross-square plan, by Emperor Romanos І Lecapenos as a family chapel when he converted his nearby palace to a monastery in 922. Romanos І Lecapenos was the son of an imperial guardsman of Armenian named Theophylaktos. Romanos did not take any refined education but he advanced through the ranks of army during the reign of the Emperor Leo VІ.

First he became the general of the naval and after served as admiral on the fleet. After becoming very influential, he started to have a close relationship with the underage Constantine VІІ and in 919 he married his daughter with him and became the “father of the emperor”. In 920, he became the co-emperor. He was in the power until 944 when he deposed by his sons. The monastery sits on the ruins of the 5th century rotunda and is also known as a female monastery (Nunnery). Emperor Romanos created a complex place which includes a monastery, church and a burial place.

The church also became a burial place for their family. Between 922 and 961, six members of the Lecapenos family were buried in the church. The church was damaged during the Crusades in 1203. After the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the church was converted into a mosque by Grand Vizier Mesih Paşa around 1500s. Nowadays this mosque is called "Bodrum Camii", bodrum means an enclosed area that is generally use for storage that is partially or completely underground however it is also known as "Mesih Paşa Camii" named after the Grand Vizier.

Romanos Lecapenos was an emperor during 920 to 944. As a matter of fact he was an uspurer to the throne; he wanted to build a palace for himself so he bought a late antique rotunda which was built in the 5th century. Both entrances of the rotunda were closed by walls. The inner side of the rotunda was supported by approximately eighty columns to hold the ceiling where the rotunda was transformed into a cistern.

The ceiling was divided into two parts; one half was constructed as a palace and a terrace, where the other half was being used as the courtyard. Lecapenos also wanted to build a family chapel next to his palace. Myrelaion church was built on the south-west of Rotunda which was attached to the palace. The church was a two storey building and it was located at the same level with the palace and the terrace. A same sized substructure was built beneath the church with the aim of this church being at the same level with the palace. Although the church and the substructures are not connected inside, they both carry their individual entrances outside.

The Myrelaion church was built on a cross-square plan which became popular after the basilica plan in the 9th century. The term "four-column church" is also applied to this kind. In this type of church, forms are massed in a pyramidal manner, the vaults cascading downward from the top. There was a dome in the center of the church which rises above a drum, whose windows around its base provide the light to focus on the center. The dome is supported by four columns that divide the interior space into nine units.

The narthex of the church has three bays which were separated by the arches. The central bay has a dome vault; however the other ones have cross-groined vaults.” “Three archways lead from the narthex into the nave. In the nave there is a central hall with four columns that carry the dome. The aisles lead into clover-shaped pastoforion or side rooms that are linked to the sanctuary in the middle.

The inner side of the church was also decorated by mosaics and marble revetments. In the crypt, where the Lecaponos’s family were buried has a fresco painting from the Palaogeloion Dynasty, still exists in the mosque. In the painting, there is a female figure kneeling and supplicating from a standing Mother of God. The exterior parts of the walls are semicircular buttresses and the eastern side of the church is dominated by the semi-hexagonal apses of the sanctuary and the side rooms. The whole church is made by bricks.

The church is used as a burial place for Lecapenos, his family and Romanos І. First his wife Theodora in 922 and after by order: his son Christopher in 931, Constantine’s (his son) wife
Helena in 940, his son Constantine in 946, Romanos І himself in 946 and Emperor Constantine VІІ’s wife Helena in 961. Romanos was the only emperor who was not buried in Havariun or the church of the Holy Apostles, because Romanos became emperor by making her daughter marry with Constantine VІІ and after eliminating Constantine VІІ.

Some years before 922, possibly during the wars against Simeon I's Bulgaria, the drungarius Romanos Lekapenos bought a house in the ninth region of Constantinople, not far from the Sea of Marmara, in the place called Myrelaion ("the place of myrrh" in Greek). After his accession to the throne this building became the nucleus of a new imperial palace, intended to challenge the neighbouring Great Palace of Constantinople, and the family shrine of the Lekapenos family.

The first person to be buried there was his wife Theodora, in December 922, followed by his eldest son and co-emperor Christophoros, who died in 931. By doing so, Romanos interrupted a six-century old tradition, whereby almost all the Byzantine emperors since Constantine I were buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles. Later the Emperor converted his palace into a nunnery and, after his deposition and death in exile as monk in the island of Prote in June 948, he too was buried in the church.

Romanos I desired for the privilege of being buried in the Havariun church also known as Holy Apostles, however, he was buried in the Myrelaion church as he was not considered from the royal blood. There are still surviving traces of the burials in the Archeology Museum in İstanbul. Furthermore, the palace of Romanos was used as a monastery, converted by Romanos II. Not only Romanos ІІ locked his sister to the monastery but also the wife and the daughter of the Komnenos І were locked to this monastery as a nun. That’s why the monastery was also known as a nunnery.

The whole complex was damaged because of the Crusades in 1203 by the fire incidents. In 1261, Michael ІХ was recaptured the Constantinople and started to restore Constantinople from its damages. Michael ІХ was one of the member of the Palaeologian Dynasty. Myrelaion church was also restored in the late 13th century, during the Palaeologian Dynasty in 1261. During these repairs, a burial chapel was added in the substructure of the building. The shrine was ravaged by fire in 1203, during the Fourth Crusade. Abandoned during the Latin occupation of Constantinople (1204-1261), the building was repaired at the end of the thirteenth century, during the period of the Palaiologan restoration.

After the conquest of the Ottoman Empire, the church was converted into a mosque by the Grand Vizier Mesih Ali Paşa, under the ruling of the Sultan ІІ Beyazıd. The mosque is also known as Bodrum Camii, named after the cistern beneath the monastery, coming from the word "Bodrum" in Turkish language. A fountain and faucets for ablution was constructed near the mosque. In 1782, so far the biggest fire in history of Istanbul damaged the mosque.

After the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Myrelaion was converted into a mosque by Grand Vizier Mesih Paşa around the year 1500, during the reign of Sultan Bayezid II. The mosque was named after its substructure (the meaning of the Turkish word bodrum is "subterranean vault", "basement"), but was also known under the name of its founder. The edifice was damaged again by fires in 1784 and 1911, when it was abandoned.

Bodrum Mosque (Turkish: Bodrum Camii, or Mesih Paşa Camii named after its convert) in Istanbul, Turkey, is a former Eastern Orthodox church converted into a mosque by the Ottomans. The church was known under the Greek name of Myrelaion. The medieval structure, rather incongruously choked on three sides by modern blocks, stands in Istanbul, in the district of Fatih, in the neighbourhood of Laleli, one kilometre west of the ruins of the Great Palace of Constantinople.

However, the mosque was damaged most by the fire in 1911. The restoration of the mosque was on a long hold until 1986. At the moment, it is used as a mosque, Bodrum Camii. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to see any remaining of the monastery from the past. The cistern which is constructed by Romanos was used for water storage in the Byzantine period however now it is turned into a shopping mall.

 In 1784 and 1911, the mosque was gravely damaged due to back fire incidents. However, after 1965 C.L.Striker came to İstanbul and cleaned its cellar and did a digging to find out something related with the monastery of Romanos. After 1986, it was completely restored by an institution and now it is used as a mosque.

You can still see the columns and the ceiling of the cistern. Now the "bodrum" of the mosque which was the burial chapel in the past is used for only Friday prayers. Today, the church is visited by many tourists where their feelings and memories from the church are kept in the "Visitors Book". Most tourists seem to appreciate the restoration that they can still have a chance to see the remaining of the church and its features from the past.

The building, whose masonry consists entirely of bricks, is built on a foundation structure made of alternated courses of bricks and stone, and has a cross-in-square (or quincunx) plan, with a nine meter long side. The central nave (naos) is surmounted by an umbrella dome, with a drum interrupted by arched windows, which gives to the structure an undulating rhythmus. The four side naves are covered by barrel vaults. The edifice has a narthex to the west and a sanctuary to the east.

The central bay of the narthex is covered by a dome, the two side bays by cross vaults. The nave is partitioned by four piers, which substituted in the Ottoman period the original columns. Many openings - windows, oeil-de-boeufs and arches - give light to the structure. The exterior of the building is characterized by the half cylindrical buttresses which articulate its façades. Originally an exonarthex existed too, but in the Ottoman period it was replaced by a wooden portico.

The building has three polygonal apses. The central one belongs to the sanctuary (bema), while the lateral are parts of two clover-shaped side chapels (pastophoria), prothesis and diakonikon. The Ottomans built a stone minaret close to the narthex. The building was originally decorated with a marble revetment and mosaics, which disappeared totally. As a whole, Bodrum mosque shows strong analogies with the north church of the Fenari Isa complex.

The substructure, in contrast with the building, has an austere and rough aspect. Originally its purpose was only that of bringing the church to the same level of the palace of Lekapenos. After the restoration in the Palaiologan period it was used as burial chapel. This edifice is the first example of a private burial church of a Byzantine emperor, starting so a tradition typical of the later Komnenian and Palaiologan periods. Moreover, the building represents a beautiful example of the cross-in-square type church, the new architectural type of the middle Byzantine architecture.

The palace of Myrelaion was built on top of a giant fifth century rotunda which, with an external diameter of 41.8 meters, was the second largest, after the Roman Pantheon, in the ancient world. In the tenth century the rotunda was not used anymore, and then it was converted - possibly by Romanos himself - into a cistern by covering its interior with a vaulted system carried by at least 70 columns. Near the palace the Emperor built a church, which he intended from the beginning to use as burial place for his family.

The building was finally restored in 1986 when it was reopened as mosque. In 1990, the cistern was restored too, and it has hosted a shopping mall for a few years. Now the cistern is used by the women to pray. The thickness of its stone wall is 5 m and it measures 28 x 22 m. The mosque was named after its substructure (the meaning of the Turkish word ‘bodrum’ is subterranean vault or basement).

In 1930, an excavation led by David Talbot Rice discovered the round cistern. In 1964-1965, a radical restoration led by the Archaeological Museum of Istanbul replaced almost all the external masonry of the edifice, and was then interrupted. In 1965, two parallel excavations led by art historian Cecil L. Striker and by R. Naumann focused respectively on the substructure and on the imperial palace. The cistern, near the church and now used as a store, has a roof 30 m in diameter, supported by 70 columns; most of them are original, with heights ranging from 2.5 to 2.9 m.

A simple minaret of cut stone is attached to the northwest corner of the narthex. Surrounded by a walled precinct in Ottoman times, the Bodrum mosque is threatened by encroaching rows of concrete apartment buildings today.


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Balipaşa, Fatih - İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°01'08.3"N 28°56'38.3"E / 41.018972, 28.943972


According to the inscription of this mosque on Bali Pasha Street in Fatih, the structure was built between 1504 and 1505 by Hüma Hatun after her husband Vizier Bali Pasha died in 1494. Hüma Hatun finished the construction by spending 15.000 gold coins.

This cut stone mosque, whose dome measures 12 m in diameter, has a dimension of 17.2 x 17.8 m. The inscription belongs to the Poet Kenan Hüdai.

The mosque, partly burnt down in 1633, was restored after the earthquake of 1766. The central dome and the narthex collapsed during an earthquake of 1766. The mosque, which remained out of service for a long period after being totally damaged during the conflagration in 1918, was restored as single domed structure c.1936. The mosque had a restoration in 1965. Finally in 2007 it was restored by the General Directorate of waqfs.

The building has endured many natural disasters throughout its life span and has, thus, lost much of its original magnificence. The most sigficant damage was caused by the 1894 earthquake, when the main dome and the part of the outside portico was destroyed. Although two fires in 1633 and 1918 and an earthquake in 1894 occurred in the area, today the monument is still in good condition protecting its characteristics of the 16th century Ottoman architecture.

A pre-existing mosque built in 1504 was taken down and rebuilt by Mimar Sinan. The mosque with shallow galleries consists of a prayer hall which is surmounted by a central dome of 11.80 meter, a five-bay portico and a minaret. It is an important example of the 16th century Ottoman architecture.

The plan of Bali Paşa Camii is simple and to a certain extent resembles that of Iskender Paşa. The chief difference between these two is that in Bali Paşa the dome arches to north, west and south are very deep, being almost barrel vaults; thus room is left, on the north and south, for shallow bays with galleries above. But the five domes of the porch have never been rebuilt and this gives the facade a somewhat naked look.

The mosque is composed of a prayer hall covered by a central dome and a five bay portico. The central dome rests on great arches in the north, east and west which are divided into three abutments at the ground level. Narrow galleries surround the prayer hall. The portico columns date from the period of Sultan Bayezid II and the minaret is probably built by Architect Sinan.


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Teşvikiye, Şişli - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°02'58.0"N 28°59'40.0"E / 41.049444, 28.994444


Teşvikiye Mosque is a neo-baroque structure located in the Nişantaşı district of Istanbul, on Teşvikiye Street in Şişli, between 1794 and 1795.It was originally commissioned in 1794 by Sultan Selim III, but most of the current mosque that stands today was completed in 1854 during the reign of Sultan Abdülmecit.

It was during this time that several well-known structures in Istanbul were being built or renovated, including Ortaköy Mosque and Dolmabahçe Palace, in styles imported from Europe.

It is the front of the mosque, constructed during a renovation in the late 19th century, that gives it a unique appearance, with huge white columns. It has become a sort of stand-out symbol in the upscale, bustling district of Nişantaşı.

The pediment of the mosque, resembling a triumphal arch, creates an impressive view of the pavilion. Embellishments of the period were used a great deal in their 24 x 25 m mosque. That Sultan Selim III and Sultan Mahmut II brought the stones from very long distances, is written with in the courtyard of the mosque.


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Friday, May 25, 2018


Vezneciler, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'48.0"N 28°57'37.0"E / 41.013333, 28.960278


The mosque is located in the Fatih district of Istanbul, Turkey, in the picturesque neighborhood of Vefa, and lies immediately to the south of the easternmost extant section of the aqueduct of Valens, and less than one km to the southeast of the Vefa Kilise Mosque. Located next to the Bozdoğan aqueduct at Vezneciler in Eminönü, the mosque was originally a church. Dating from the late Roman period, it was modified several times and used for different purposes. Used initially as a lavish palace bath, it then became a rich Kommen church, a mosque, a shanty house and finally a mosque again.

Kalenderhane Mosque (Turkish: Kalenderhane Camii) is a former Eastern Orthodox church in Istanbul, converted into a mosque by the Ottomans. With high probability the church was originally dedicated to the Theotokos Kyriotissa. This building represents one among the few extant examples of a Byzantine church with domed Greek cross plan.

The first building on this site was a Roman bath, followed by a sixth-century (the dating was based on precise coin finds in stratigraphic excavation) hall church with an apse laying up against the Aqueduct of Valens. Later - possibly in the seventh century - a much larger church was built to the south of the first church. A third church, which reused the sanctuary and the apse (later destroyed by the Ottomans) of the second one, can be dated to the end of the twelfth century, during the late Comnenian period.

It may date to between 1197 and 1204, since Constantine Stilbes alluded to its destruction in a fire in 1197.  The church was surrounded by monastery buildings, which disappeared totally during the Ottoman period. After the Latin conquest of Constantinople, the building was used by the Crusaders as a Roman Catholic church, and partly officiated by Franciscan clergy.

After the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the church was assigned by Sultan Mehmed II personally to the Kalenderi sect of the Derwishes. The Dervishes used it as a zaviye and imaret (public kitchen), and the building has been known ever since as Kalenderhane (Turkish: "The house of the Kalenderi"). Some years later, Arpa Emini Mustafa Efendi built a Mektep (school) and a Medrese.

Originally, during the Latin occupation of the 12th century, the mosque was a Catholic Italian church. It was later used as a religious establishment by the Kalenderi sect after the conquest of Istanbul by Sultan Mehmet, the Conqueror. Babüssaade Ağası Maktul Beşir Ağa converted it into a mosque in the first half of the 18th century. A fire caused extensive damage in the 19th century, and it was renovated in 1854. Lightning struck the minaret in 1930, it was then abandoned.

It was later researched and excavated by Harvard University and İstanbul Technical University between 1966-1975. It was restored in 1968 and re-opened for worship. The walls are a mixture of stone and brick. A large dome spans the ceiling. The inner walls are covered by colored marble and engraved ornamentation.

Before it was converted into a mosque by Maktul Beşir Ağa (the chief officer of the Ottoman Palace), it was originally used as monastery and later as church. In chronological order, it was first converted from the Palace Bath House into the Comnenian church, and was later used as a zawiya (zaviye) after the conquest, after which it was converted into a little mosque.

Monastery rooms were converted into a dervish lodge, and the main place of worship place was converted into the semahane. Therefore, it is considered as the oldest semahane. In 1747, Kızlarağası Beşir Ağa built a altar (mihrab), pulpit (minbar) and mahfil, completing the conversion of the building into a mosque. The mosque’s minaret, restored in 1854, collapsed due to a lightning strike in 1930.

In 1746, Hacı Beşir Ağa (d. 1747), the Kızlar Ağası of the Topkapı Palace, built a mihrab, minbar and mahfil, completing the conversion of the building into a mosque. Ravaged by fire and damaged by earthquakes, the mosque was restored in 1855 and again between 1880 and 1890. It was abandoned in the 1930s, after the collapse of the minaret due to lightning, and the demolition of the Medrese.

The conservation of the building dates from the 1970s, when it was extensively restored and studied in a ten-year effort by Cecil L. Striker and Doğan Kuban, who restored its twelfth century condition. Moreover, the minaret and the mihrab were rebuilt, which allowed the mosque to reopen for worship.

The restoration also provided a solution to the problem of the dedication of the church: while before it was thought that the church was named after Theotokos tēs Diakonissēs (Virgin of the Deaconesses) or Christos ho Akataleptos (Christ the Inconceivable), the discovery of a donor fresco in the southeastern chapel and of another fresco over the main entrance to the narthex both bearing the word "Kyriotissa" (Greek for Enthroned), makes highly probable that the church was dedicated to the Theotokos Kyriotissa.

The building has a central Greek Cross plan with deep barrel vaults over the arms, and is surmounted by a dome with 16 ribs. The structure has a typically middle Byzantine brickwork with alternating layers of brick and stone masonry. The entry is via an esonarthex and an exonarthex (added much later) in the west side. An upper gallery over the esonarthex, following the same plan of the one existing in the Church of the Pantokrator, was removed in 1854. Also the north and south aisles along the nave were destroyed, possibly during the nineteenth century too.

The tall triple arches connecting the aisles with the nave are now the lower windows of the church. The sanctuary is on the east side; however, the reconstructed mihrab and minbar are in a corner to obtain the proper alignment with Mecca. Two small chapels named prothesis and diakonikon, typical of the Byzantine churches of the middle and late period have survived. The interior decoration of the church, consisting of beautiful colored marble panels and moldings, and of elaborated icon frames, is largely extant.

The building possesses two features which both represent an unicum in Istanbul: a mosaic, one meter square, representing the "Presentation of Christ", which is the only pre-iconoclastic exemplar of a religious subject surviving in the city, and a cycle of frescoes of the thirteenth century (found in a chapel at the southeast corner of the building, and painted during the Latin domination) portraying the life of Saint Francis of Assisi.

 This is the oldest known representation of the saint, and may have been painted only a few years after his death in 1226. The frescoes of St. Francesco and the mosaic panel depicting "the Presentation of Christ", which were discovered in the archaeological expedition preceding the restoration, have been partially restored and are displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Istanbul. Other findings from the 1966 expedition are displayed in a small museum located in the diaconicon of the Kalenderhane Mosque.

The church has a Greek cross or cross-domed plan, preceded by an inner and outer narthex to the west, and with sanctuary to the east. The side entrances from the inner narthex were closed in the period following the Latin invasion. There was also an upper gallery to the inner narthex, which was possibly removed during the 1854 reconstruction, and windows were opened on the northern façade inside the grand arch that was previously obscured by the gallery.

The aisles flanking the nave to the north and south are also thought to have been removed at this time and neither was rebuilt during the 1966 restoration; the triple arches that used to link the nave to the aisles now form the lower tier of windows on the north and south façades. The sanctuary, which was probably replaced by a straight wall with a mihrab during the 18th century conversion, was rebuilt during the restoration and the restored mihrab was moved into the sanctuary apse. The foundations of the sanctuary, which guided the reconstruction, contained the footprint of a smaller mihrab built earlier for the zawiya.

The chapels of prothesis and the diaconicon, located to the north and south of the sanctuary, are complex in plan and incorporate fragments of chapels and apses from earlier structures. Two elaborate icon frames, located on the piers flanking the sanctuary, provide information about the non-extant iconostasis, which rose to the level of the vaults. The original decoration of the church has been largely maintained and consists of polychrome marble revetments and moldings.

It has come into the center of the Kalenderhane Mosque from the narthex covered with vaults. The center of the primary structure is covered by a pendant dome. The central dome of the mosque is supported by a barrel vault, so the ceiling structure is visible. The walls of the mosque consist of both bricks and stones. The inner walls are decorated with beautiful colored marble panels and reliefs. It is now open for worship and to domestic and foreign visitors.

The church has a Greek cross or cross-domed plan, preceded by an inner and outer narthex to the west, and with sanctuary to the east. The side entrances from the inner narthex were closed in the period following the Latin invasion. There was also an upper gallery to the inner narthex, which was possibly removed during the 1854 reconstruction, and windows were opened on the northern façade inside the grand arch that was previously obscured by the gallery.

The aisles flanking the nave to the north and south are also thought to have been removed at this time and neither was rebuilt during the 1966 restoration; the triple arches that used to link the nave to the aisles now form the lower tier of windows on the north and south façades. The sanctuary, which was probably replaced by a straight wall with a mihrab during the 18th century conversion, was rebuilt during the restoration and the restored mihrab was moved into the sanctuary apse.

The foundations of the sanctuary, which guided the reconstruction, contained the footprint of a smaller mihrab built earlier for the zawiya. The chapels of prothesis and the diaconicon, located to the north and south of the sanctuary, are complex in plan and incorporate fragments of chapels and apses from earlier structures. Two elaborate icon frames, located on the piers flanking the sanctuary, provide information about the non-extant iconostasis, which rose to the level of the vaults. The original decoration of the church has been largely maintained and consists of polychrome marble revetments and moldings.

The church belongs to the domed-cross type. The central area is cruciform, with barrel vaults over the arms and a dome on the centre. As the arms are not filled in with galleries this cruciform plan is very marked internally. Four small chambers, in two stories, in the arm angles bring the building to the square form externally.

The upper stories are inaccessible except by ladders, but the supposition that they ever formed, like the similar stories in the dome piers of S. Sophia, portions of continuous galleries along the northern, western, and southern walls of the church is precluded by the character of the revetment on the walls. In the development of the domed-cross type, the church stands logically intermediate between the varieties of that type found respectively in the church of S. Theodosia and in that of SS. Peter and Mark.

The lower story of the north-western pier is covered with a flat circular roof resting on four pendentives, while the upper story is open to the timbers, and rises higher than the roof of the church, as though it were the base of some kind of tower. It presents no indications of pendentives or of a start in vaulting. The original eastern wall of the church has been almost totally torn down and replaced by a straight wall of Turkish construction.

Traces of three apses at that end of the building can, however, still be discerned; for the points at which the curve of the central apse started are visible on either side of the Turkish wall, and the northern apse shows on the exterior. The northern and southern walls are lighted by large triple windows, divided by shafts and descending to a marble parapet near the floor. The dome, which is large in proportion to the church, is a polygon of sixteen sides. It rests directly on pendentives, but has a comparatively high external drum above the roof. It is pierced by sixteen windows which follow the curve of the dome.

The flat, straight external cornice above them is Turkish, and there is good reason to suspect that the dome, taken as a whole, is Turkish work, for it strongly resembles the Turkish domes found in S. Theodosia, SS. Peter and Mark, and S. Andrew in Krisei. The vaults, moreover, below the dome are very much distorted; and the pointed eastern arch like the eastern wall appears to be Turkish. When portions of the building so closely connected with the dome have undergone Turkish repairs, it is not strange that the dome itself should also have received similar treatment.

In the western faces of the piers that carry the eastern arch large marble frames of considerable beauty are inserted. The sills are carved and rest on two short columns; two slender pilasters of verd antique form the sides; and above them is a flat cornice enriched with overhanging leaves of acanthus and a small bust in the centre. Within the frames is a large marble slab. Dr. Freshfield thinks these frames formed part of the eikonostasis, but on that view the bema would have been unusually large.

The more probable position of the eikonostasis was across the arch nearer the apse. In that case the frames just described formed part of the general decoration of the building, although, at the same time, they may have enclosed isolated eikons. Eikons in a similar position are found in S. Saviour in the Chora. The marble casing of the church is remarkably fine.

Worthy of special notice is the careful manner in which the colours and veinings of the marble slabs are made to correspond and match. The zigzag inlaid pattern around the arches also deserves particular attention. High up in the western wall, and reached by the wooden stairs leading to a Turkish wooden gallery on that side of the church, are two marble slabs with a door carved in bas-relief upon them. They may be symbols of Christ as the door of His fold.

The church has a double narthex. As the ground outside the building has been raised enormously (it rises 15-20 feet above the floor at the east end) the actual entrance to the outer narthex is through a cutting in its vault or through a window, and the floor is reached by a steep flight of stone steps. The narthex is a long narrow vestibule, covered with barrel vaults, and has a Turkish wooden ceiling at the southern end.

The esonarthex is covered with a barrel vault between two cross vaults. The entrance into the church stands between two Corinthian columns, but they belong to different periods, and do not correspond to any structure in the building. In fact, both narthexes have been much altered in their day, presenting many irregularities and containing useless pilasters.

Professor Goodyear refers to this church in support of the theory that in Byzantine buildings there is an intentional widening of the structure from the ground upwards. 'It will also be observed,' he says, 'that the cornice is horizontal, whereas the marble casing above and below the cornice is cut and fitted in oblique lines.... The outward bend on the right side of the choir is 111⁄2 inches in 33 feet. The masonry surfaces step back above the middle string-course. That these bends are not due to thrust is abundantly apparent from the fact that they are continuous and uniform in inclination up to the solid rear wall of the choir.'

But in regard to the existence of an intentional widening upwards in this building, it should be observed : First, that as the eastern wall of the church, 'the rear wall of the choir,' is Turkish, nothing can be legitimately inferred from the features of that wall about the character of Byzantine construction. Secondly, the set back above the middle string-course on the other walls of the church is an ordinary arrangement in a Byzantine church, and if this were all 'the widening' for which Professor Goodyear contended there would be no room for difference of opinion.

The ledge formed by that set back may have served to support scaffolding. In the next place, due weight must be given to the distortion which would inevitably occur in Byzantine buildings. They were fabrics of mortar with brick rather than of brick with mortar, and consequently too elastic not to settle to a large extent in the course of erection. Hence is it that no measurements of a Byzantine structure, even on the ground floor, are accurate within more than 5 cm., while above the ground they vary to a much greater degree, rendering minute measurements quite valueless.

Lastly, as the marble panelling was fitted after the completion of the body of the building, it had to be adapted to any divergence that had previously occurred in the settling of the walls or the spreading of the vaults. The marble panelling, it should also be observed, is here cut to the diagonal at one angle, and not at the other.

Apart from the set back of the masonry at the middle string-course, this church, therefore, supplies no evidence for an intentional widening of the structure from the ground upwards. Any further widening than that at the middle string-course was accidental, due to the nature of the materials employed, not to the device of the builder, and was allowed by the architect because unavoidable. Such irregularities are inherent in the Byzantine methods of building.


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Üsküdar - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°01'20.3"N 29°00'51.0"E / 41.022306, 29.014167


Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi (1541–1628), (b. Şereflikoçhisar, d. Üsküdar), is amongst the most famous sufi saints of Turkey, mystic, poet, composer, author, statesman and Islamic scholar. He was the Sheikh of Sultan Ahmed I who constructed the famous Blue Mosque and especially gained the respect of Sultan Murat III. He read the first Friday prayer in this Mosque on its opening.

Born in Şereflikoçhisar, he completed his studies in a medrese in Istanbul. Aziz Mahmud Hudayi served as Qadi in Edirne, Egypt, Sham (Syria), and Bursa. He was a murid and khalifah of Üftade Hazretleri.  Aziz Mahmud Hudayi died in Üsküdar, Istanbul and is buried next to his mosque. He is something of the patron saint of Asian Istanbul.

The mosque was built in 1594 by Ayşe Hanım Sultan, the daughter of Mihrimah Sultan and by the Grand Vizier Rüstem Paşa for Azîz Mahmûd Hüdâyî; it is part of the complex that consists of a soup kitchen, a mausoleum, a library, a chamber for Sultans, a fountain, dervish rooms, a house for the sheikh and a bakery that occupy in total an area of 10,000 square meters.

The mosque was built in accordance with dervish lodge architecture, and took its final shape during the reign of Sultan Abdülmecid. Over the gate of the courtyard there is the ornamented monogram of Abdülmecid. To the right of this gate there is a fountain built by Mehmed Paşa, the son-in-law of Nevşehirli Damat İbrahim Paşa, in 1724.

On the left are the Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi fountains, built at the same time as the mosque. At the intersection of Açık Türbe Street and Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi Street the Halil Paşa fountain can be found; Halil Paşa was four times commander of the Sultan's naval forces and twice a vizier.

One of the most frequently visited religious sites in Üsküdar, the lodge offers meals to the poor and students, as well as distributing meals to the homes of the poor.

The complex, excluding the tomb, underwent major restoration after a fire in 1850. The tomb itself was renovated based on its original architectural plan in 1855 by Sultan Abdülmecid Khan. There were also restorations in 1950, 1954 and 1990. The leaden coverings of the dome were stolen in 1962 and later replaced by türbedar (tomb keeper), who served this saint of God for over two decades and who was one of the greatest masters of paper marbling.

Aziz Mahmut's spiritual presence draws tens of thousands of people from across Turkey every year. People flock to Üsküdar's Doğancılar quarter, eagerly climbing the stairs or the cobble-stone hills to visit this saint of God, paying their homage to him by reciting the Holy Quran and hoping that the supplications they make in his presence will be accepted by God for his sake.

Jelveti is the name of a Sufi order that was founded by the Turkish saint Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi. It shares the same spiritual chain as the Khalwati order and thus there are many similarities between them. The two orders split however with Sheikh Zahed Gilani, where the Jelveti order then goes on to Hajji Bayram and Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi. The Jelveti order was not a very widespread order and did not extend much further than the borders of modern Turkey having a number of tekkes in the Balkans.

The exact date of the tomb's construction remains unknown, but according to historical accounts it was Aziz Mahmut Hüdayi himself who bought the land and had the complex built in 1598, upon his arrival from the town of Bursa, where for years he had served his sheikh, Muhammad Uftade. Located beyond the main street and surrounded by modern apartments, the modesty of Aziz Mahmut's tomb is in harmony with the humble personality of this friend of God.

Aziz Mahmut's wooden sarcophagus lies at the center of the tomb, surrounded by gilt iron railings. The sarcophagi of his five sons, four daughters and granddaughter are also located around him. His tomb welcomes visitors throughout the week.

The small, rectangular tomb's single dome, standing on four marble columns, is adorned with classical Ottoman-style ornaments. It is made up of piled stones. The upper parts of the walls of the tomb, which is lighted by seven large windows as well as a Venetian-style chandelier hanging at the center of the dome, are decorated with several inscriptions. The dome consists of 13 equal segments, which also appear on the dark green top part of Aziz Mahmud's green turban, symbolic of the Sufi order he founded.

The glass-covered entrance to the tomb is through a small room that was built in 1918. There is also a marble well on the right side of the tomb's entrance According to many people - and many books that give accounts of real Sufi stories - the wells in every asitane are miraculously connected with the well of Zamzam in Mecca.

The sign above the doorway to Hudayi’s tomb says: "This burial place is where the pure souls gather together, who come here with courtesy (adab), Oh my heart, if you want to benefit from the Divine taste, you will surely get your portion when you enter through the door of Hüdayi."

His Written Works
Meanwhile, Aziz Mahmut is also known for his Sufi poems. He has 23 known works written both in verse and prose, seven of which are in Turkish. His divan has also been published. His manuscripts are preserved at the Üsküdar Hacı Selim Ağa Library. Hüdayi wrote many books, none of which are yet translated into English, and in them he makes many references to the teaching of Ibni Arabi and his followers.

His Dua
His dua, “Those who follow my path, those who visit my tomb and recite the Fatiha, are ours. May they not drown in the sea, and not experience poverty in their old age. May they only die after saying their testimony of faith. May they know the time of their death and inform their relatives”, has prompted many sailors of the Ottoman Empire to visit his grave before going out to sea.

Safe Sea Route
Aziz Mahmut Hüdayi was and is still known to work many wonders. He once set out to sea from Üsküdar on a small boat to attend the inauguration ceremony of the Blue Mosque on a very stormy day and made it to Sarayburnu (Seraglio Point) in safety, with all the waves becoming placid along the route he took. The route he followed is still known as the "Hüdayi route" and some old boatmen still follow it in harsh weather conditions. Still showing the way for sailors.

Sufi Lodge
Going up the hill above Üsküdar, you may come across the Aziz Mahmut Hüdayi Asitanesi - as the main lodge and gathering place of a Sufi order used to be called. It is one of the most frequently visited and prominent religious monuments of İstanbul's Asian side.

This lodge is actually a part of a complex that exemplifies the Tanzimat architectural style, which flourished in the second half of the 19th century. It is located within the courtyard of the mosque that bears the name of Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi,  which spreads over a large space with no unity in its design, since different parts of the complex were built in different times.

The tekke was closed in 1925 and its assets and library dispersed. It was reopened in 1985 and is now set up as a charitable foundation (waqf), which provides for the poor of the area. They feed 3-4,000 people a day, provide medical care and medicines, coal and clothing, houses for elderly people, student hostels and Quran schools. Some of the land around, which was originally part of the waqf but was sold off when the tekke was closed, is now being reclaimed. There are also charitable foundations in other places, such as Bangladesh, and there is now a Hüdayi village which was set up in southern India after the tsunami.


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Cihangir, Beyoğlu - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°01'49.0"N 28°59'13.0"E / 41.030278, 28.986944


The Cihangir Mosque, from which the neighbourhood got its name, is like a smaller prototype of the Dolmabahçe Mosque. Cihangir mosque that gave its name the district is located on hill overseeing the double minaret mosque built by Architect Sinan in 1560 for Kanuni Sultan Süleyman in the name of his son Cihangir, who died young was demolished by a fire, the existing mosque was rebuilt by Sultan Abdülhamit II.

The mosque in time has become the centre of the settlement. The existing building with its square plan and singledome, which has a congregation place in front, was built in 1889-90. This mosque does not reflect the archtecture of the period of Sinan in a significant way any more.

Built by Mimar Sinan under the orders of Kanuni Sultan Süleyman, the original mosque that stood in its place, Şehzade Cihangir Mosque, had quite a dramatic story : Süleyman, armed with the motive that his son Şehzade Mustafa from his previous haseki Mahidevran Sultan would attempt an overthrow - and, according to popular belief, with enough provocation with Hürrem Sultan - has Şehzade Mustafa choked to death.

Şehzade Cihangir (c.1531 - 1553) was the sixth and youngest child of Hürrem Sultan and the Ottoman Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent. From birth, he had many problems of health and developed a deformity.

He was very well educated and said to be one of the cleverest of his siblings and half-siblings. Reports suggest he later died of "grief" at the news of the execution of his half-brother, Mustafa, ordered by his father, Kanuni Sultan Süleyman.

As a result, Hürrem’s son Şehzade Cihangir dies of grief and the mosque is erected in his memory. Today, what makes the mosque exceptional is the breathtaking view of the Bosphorus.


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Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Sultanahmet, Fatih, İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'28.4"N 28°58'34.6"E / 41.007889, 28.976278


The mosque is located in the historical center of the city, on the Divanyolu Street, close to other prominent historical landmarks. Firuzaga mosque happens to be one of the famous mosques of Istanbul of the Ottoman era. Firuz Ağa Camii is located on Divanyolu, the main street overshadowed by the long queue of trees.

The Firuz Ağa Mosque is an old Ottoman mosque in the Fatih district of Istanbul, Turkey. It was built by Firuz Ağa, the head treasurer of Sultan Beyazıt II (1447- 1512) in 1491. The marble sarcophagus of Firuz Ağa is located in the mosque complex.

The Firuzaga Mosque has an interesting history to boast about. The Sultan Ahmet used to go for various expeditions accompanies by the treasurer of the Ottoman Palace. One of the main duties of the treasurer was placing a prayer rug, known as seccade, to be placed before the beginning of the Friday prayer. Apart from this, the treasurer would always sit on the ground, before the Sultan, to lay his forhead there and ensure that there was no danger to the life of the Sultan.

Sultan Beyazid II, the son of Sultan Mehmet II, was ascended to the throne after the death of his father. It was only after a gap of 10 long years that Firuz Agha, the treasurer of the period, built a mosque at the entry point of the famous street of the Byzantine Empire. The treasurer died in 1512 and his tomb, having engravings of rose figures on the marble, is located in the yard of the Firuzaga Mosque.

The Firuzaga Mosque, with a square design of 13.5 m by 13.5 m, is built in the Bursa style and has a dome with eight sides. According to a famous story, this mosque was built at a place which was once a famous spot of horse races being watched by the Roman emperors.

This small mosque, located on the Atmeydanı in Sultanahmet was commissoned by Firuz Ağa, the head treasure of II. Bayazıd in 1491. With its dome set on a actagonal rim, it shows the typical Bursa style. The aches as well as connecting stairs. The spectacular enterance throgh the outer courtyard opens directly on the tram line today.

It has a square plan with a dome and reflects Bursa style. It was built from cut stone and placed on an octagonal tambour. Windows composed of distichous with two and the inscription belongs to Şeyh Hamdullah Efendi. The arcade porches of the mosque are not in contrast with the Classical Ottoman Architecture.

The tomb of Firuz Ağa, builder of the mosque, was pulled down by the command of Keçecizade Fuad Paşa, (grand vizier) in the middle of the 19th century during the road widening construction. Today, the marble sarcophagus of Firuz Ağa is present in front of the wall where the minaret is located. Additionally, the cemetery of the mosque has completely been removed during road-widening construction.

Unlike other mosques, Firuzağa Mosque has the minaret placed to the left side of the wall while usually, minarets had to be on the right side on the wall. Although, the exact reason behind the minaret being placed on the left is still unknown, there are a number of stories relating different reasons for this.

This mosque was built during the first few years after Sultan Mehmet II conquered Constantinople. The mosque was located in the neighborhood of Sultanahmet which was considered to be the heart of Constantinople. Nearly 80 percent population living in the area was Greeks. The reason why the minaret of the mosque was built on the left of the wall was that the majority of Greek population living near the mosque should not get disturbed with sound of the prayer.

However, according to another account, the Firuzağa Mosque had been built to excel the first mosque built in Mecca by the Muslims. The common tradition during the 14th century and a few years later was that minarets should be located on the left side of the mosques. It was only during some what later that the tradition to place the minarets on the right side became common.


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Yıldız, Beşiktaş - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°02'59.0"N 29°00'36.0"E / 41.049722, 29.010000


Yıldız Mosque is on the Yıldız Palace road leading off Barbaros Boulevard in Beşiktaş. The Yıldız Hamidiye Mosque, also called the Yıldız Mosque, is an Ottoman imperial mosque located in Yıldız neighbourhood of Beşiktaş district in Istanbul, Turkey, on the way to Yıldız Palace. The mosque was commissioned by the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II, and constructed between 1884 and 1886.

The mosque was built on a rectangular plan and has one minaret. The architecture of the mosque is a combination of Neo-Gothic style and classical Ottoman motifs. A bronze colonnade erected by Sultan Abdülhamid II in Marjeh Square of Damascus, Syria bears a replica statue of the Yıldız Mosque on top.

The principal name of the mosque is Hamidiye Mosque, built in 1885 by Sultan Abdülhamid II. (1842 - 1918). It is rather far from the traditional Ottoman architectural style in its architectural scheme and decorative elements. It is one of the world's first and rare Gothic mosques. The mosque is an unrivalled example of late Ottoman mosque architecture. It is said that Sultan Abdülhamid II designed the mosque himself.

The mosque was been built after Sultan Abdülhamid II was established in the Yıldız Palace. Both the Hünkar Köşkü (royal residence) and the Harim (sanctum sanctorum) of the mosque on square plan provide a more full visual completeness. Moreover, both the small and high dome of the mosque were erected above a polygonal tambour, which has 16 windows. Neo-Gothic style windows and muqarnas (decorative) lines add a different complexion on the tambour of the mosque.

Gold leaf and the unprecedented star-shaped engravments on the blue decorations / adornments of the dome are beautiful examples of the rich engraving of the mosque. Additionally, the minaret of the structure has a decorated sherefe (minaret balcony), and the body of the minaret is fluted upward. The minaret has a single gallery and is decorated with stone carvings.

The interior ornamentation is very rich, extravagant and sophisticated. There are rooms on the left and right which are reached by stairs. The room on the right, the Sufera room with walls covered with 18 carat gold, had been designated for ambassadors and other high-ranking foreign officials. The room on the left, on the other hand, was the Hünkar pew, where the Sultan would pray in private. The Hünkar pew had an oil-painted ceiling.

The dome sits on four thick iron columns and has 16 windows. The eaves of the dome are decorated with engraved stars. The inside of the dome is also ornate. Additionally, the minaret of the structure has a decorated sherefe (minaret balcony), and the body of the minaret is fluted upward. There are verses from the Quran decorate four sides of the mosque. The panels on the walls are made of ebony with pearl engravings. Borders with inscriptions of chapters from the Koran encircle the interior walls.

There are 17 windows in the mosque and verses from the Quran decorate four sides of the mosque. The panels on the walls are made of ebony with pearl engravings. Borders with inscriptions of chapters from the Koran encircle the interior walls.

The mosque was been built after Sultan Abdülhamid II was established in the Yıldız Palace. Both the Hünkar Köşkü (royal residence) and the Harim (sanctum sanctorum) of the mosque on square plan provide a more full visual completeness. Moreover, both the small and high dome of the mosque were erected above a polygonal tambour, which has 16 windows.

Neo-Gothic style windows and muqarnas (decorative) lines add a different complexion on the tambour of the mosque. Gold leaf and the unprecedented star-shaped engravments on the blue decorations/adornments of the dome are beautiful examples of the rich engraving of the mosque.


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Zeyrek, Fatih - İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°01'10.0"N 28°57'31.6"E / 41.019444, 28.958778


The Şebsefa Hatun Mosque, built in 1787, is situated in the Zeyrek neighborhood of the Fatih District, as well as along Atatürk Boulevard. Its construction was commissioned by Fatma Şebsefa Hatun, a wife of Sultan Abdulhamid I (1725 -1789). She had it built in commemoration of her son.

When it was brought together with the Sıbyan Mektebi (an Ottoman elementary-primary school), the mosque’s fountains were removed from their former sites during the road broadening works. The primary school, which is now an imam lodge, dates from 1805, according to the records, was a coeducational school. It is evident that the building was clearly redesigned as a complex.

It is of brick and stone; the porch has an upper storey with a cradle-vault and inside there is a sort of narthex also of two storeys, covered with three small domes. These upper storeys form a deep and attractive gallery overlooking the central area of the mosque, which is covered by a high dome resting on the walls. To the north of the mosque is a long mektep with a pretty cradle vaulted roof.

The wall is composed solely of stone and brick, and the mosque has a Baroque architectural style. The ceiling of the Harim (sanctum sanctorum) is mainly composed of a dome standing on a tambour with 16 windows. The dome is supported by four smaller domes located at the corners of the structure. There are five marble columns in the last prayer section. The interior of the mosque is lit by 29 windows.

The minaret with a sherefe (minaret balcony) located on the left side of the mosque is made of cut stone. Furthermore, the inscription on the portal gate reveals a poem in the epigraph written by the Şeyhülislam of that period, the fifth Yahya Tevfik.

Şebsefa Hatun, the builder of the mosque, was buried in the graveyard of the Mosque. The mosque is now nestled below road level, after the completion of the later road construction.


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Sunday, May 20, 2018


Edirnekapı - Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°01'45.6"N 28°56'08.4"E / 41.029333, 28.935667


The Mihrimah Sultan mosque is located on Fevzi Paşa Street at Edirnekapı neighborhood in Fatih.. The mosque was built between 1562-1565 by the architect Sinan by the order of Mihrimah Sultan, daughter of Süleyman the Magnificent. Its construction was continued from 1562 to1565 and it had a a large amount of damage during an earthquake in 1719. The complex is composed of a large mosque, madrasah (theological school attached to a mosque), Ottoman elementary-primary school (Sıbyan Mektebi), tomb, bath and bazaar.

The complex is located on Fevzi Paşa Street at the entrance to Edirnekapı by the city walls. It is built by Sultan Süleyman, the Magnificent for his daughter Mihrimah and designed by Architect Sinan. Altough the exact date is unknown, it is thought that construction of the complex was completed in the 1560's. It was composed of a mosque, medresse, double hamam, shrine, market and primary school, many of which no longer remain today.

Built near the walls of the old city entrance and standing on one of the highest hills of Istanbul, this mosque in Edirnekapı is the second mosque in Istanbul built for Mihrimah Sultan. Commissioned by her father, Süleyman the Magnificent (1520-1566), it was designed and built by Architect Sinan and completed between 1562-1565.

The Mihrimah Sultan Mosque is an Ottoman mosque located in the Edirnekapı neighborhood near the Byzantine land walls of Istanbul, Turkey. Located on the peak of the Sixth Hill near the highest point of the city, the mosque is a prominent landmark in Istanbul.

The Mihrimah Sultan Mosque was designed by Mimar Sinan "Sinan the Architect" for the favorite daughter of Süleyman the Magnificent, Princess Mihrimah. Its building took place from 1562 to 1565. The complex has been severely damaged by earthquakes several times (including 1719, 1766, 1814 and 1894), and although efforts were made to restore the mosque, its attendant buildings received less attention. The dome was further damaged during 1999 İzmit earthquake, and required restoration, along with the upper half of the minaret.

The mosque was built on a terrace overlooking the main street. A large courtyard (avlu) whose interior portico is divided into individual cells forming a madrasah surrounds the mosque. In the center of the courtyard is a large ablution fountain (şadırvan). Entry to the mosque is through an imposing porch of seven domed bays with marble and granite columns. The mosque itself is a cube topped by a half-sphere, with symmetrical multi-windowed tympana on each of the four sides. The dome is supported by four towers, one in each corner; its base is pierced by windows. The single minaret is tall and slender; during the 1894 earthquake it crashed through the roof of the mosque.

The interior is a cube under a dome 20 m in diameter and 37 m high. On the north and south sides, triple arcades supported by granite columns open onto side aisles with galleries above, each with three domed bays. A vast amount of surface area is covered by windows, making the mosque one of the brightest lit of any of Sinan's works. Some of the windows contain stained glass. The interior stencil decorations are all modern. However, the mimbar in carved white marble is from the original construction.

The diameter of the dome of the mosque is 20 meters, and the height is 37 meters. It has an area of approximately 1000 square meters in the middle of the mosque. It has a rectangular-shaped marble pulpit (minber), and the stained glass of the windows strengthen the aesthetic appeal of the mosque. It has only one minaret with a single sherefe (minaret balcony), and that falls outside of the profile of the Sultan Mosques which were built by the architect Sinan.

It differs from other mosques of the period in that it has a single minaret. Another distinction is the large number of windows: 101 in all. The marble pulpit is one of the finest of the period. The shutters of the window and door are made of wood inlaid with ivory and mother-of-pearl.

Just behind the portico, the dominating single dome of the mosque rises thirty-five meters above the ground. Spanning 20 meters, the dome is carried over an almost skeletal system composed of four "elephant feet" (massive piers) and the arches between them. These polygonal piers, mostly projected on the façade for creation of a more spacious interior, rise to the level of the drum and increase the total mass available to support the load of the dome.

An innovative design, this addition of these structural piers allows for a shift from purely load-bearing to thinner, heavily fenestrated walls. Thus, all four tympana feature three rows of windows with seven arched windows at the bottom, five arched and two circular windows in the middle, and three arched and two circular windows at the top. The dome itself also features twenty-four windows, greatly increasing the quantity of natural light within the interior; the total number of windows in the prayer hall is close to two hundred.

Along the east-west axis, the mosque has side bays, each of which are topped by three domes. Measuring six meters in diameter, these domes sit on columns with carved stalactite capitals. The height of these side bays is almost half that of the central space, and they include three rows of windows, the same number found in the large tympana of the main dome. The mosque has a slim minaret with a single balcony constructed of stone that corresponds to the western bay of the portico.

The luminous interior of the mosque features a marble mihrab with muqarnas carvings; the minbar, also of marble, stands to the west of the mihrab niche. Chasings, restored in the last renovations, and stained-glass windows add to the interior ornamentation.

The single domed mosque, which is the only monumental and grandiose structure in the complex, has been severely damaged by a series of earthquakes in 1719, 1814, and 1894. According to records, these quakes caused a crack in the dome; the minaret and the portico collapsed. Judging by its architectural style, the portico was probably rebuilt in the 19th century. In 1719, the upper part of the minaret collapsed during an earthquake and was rebuilt. After discovering the extnet of the destruction of the domes in this earthquake, it is doubtful that central dome with many windows was rebuilt in a way of consistent with its original character.

The mosque was partially damaged in several earthquakes, including in 1648, 1690, 1714 (when its domes were destroyed), and in 1894, after which it was temporarily closed. The Mihrimah Sultan mosque was most recently restored in 1956 and 1957. The dome of the mosque, which was further damaged recently during 1999 Marmara earthquake, and restorated. The minaret is rebuilted from halfway up.

As built, the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque had a külliye (complex) which included (besides madrasah) a double hamman, tomb and a low row of shops under the terrace upon which the mosque was built, whose rents were intended to financially support the mosque complex. The complex does not include the grave of Mihrimah Sultan herself (which is located at the Süleymaniye Mosque, but a ruined türbe which is also a work of Sinan) behind the mosque houses the graves of her son-in-law, Grand Vizier Semiz Ali Pasha, as well as many other members of her family.

The Mihrimah Sultan Mosque is part of a complex, situated on a platform above its site, which includes a madrasa, a mausoleum, baths, and stores. The site is accessed via stairs leading to the courtyard through the portico. Its courtyard measures about fifty-seven by twenty-one and a half meters, and is surrounded on three sides by a portico that is one bay deep. Each bay has its own dome, for a total of thirty-six.

A medresse is located in two corners of the inner courtyard. Interestingly though, there is no schoolroom section. It is not known whether there were no schools originally or if they were removed during renovation of repairs. Apart from this, the medresse has survived intact. A building with covered by three domes in the complex is called the Ottoman elementary-primary school (Sıbyan Mektebi). The building just next to it is the tomb of Güzel Ahmet Paşa. The primary school and tomb of Güzel Ahmed Paşa are found in the right hand corner of the mosque's kıblah, a structure indicating the direction of Mecca.

A double hamam is found in the same area, but is separate from the complex. The twin bath house of the complex has lost most of its original features except its plan and its exterior walls. There are twin baths (çifte hamam) that were active until the first quarter of the 1900s.

In the courtyard of the complex there is a marble fountain. A marble fountain, whose roof is carried over sixteen double columns, is placed in the center of the courtyard.

The inner courtyard consists of 19 rooms and 2 eyvans, a vaulted room with one side open to a courtyard. The south end of the courtyard is framed by the portico of the mosque. Surmounted by seven domes, each 6 meters in diameter, the portico of the mosque contains larger bays than the enclosure portico. These 7 domes are carried by 8 columns on the north, and rest on octagonal drums.

Eleven student cells are found behind the eastern portico and nine are located behind the western portico; however, because of the site constraints, no student accommodation was built behind the northern portico. In this configuration, the madrasa functions as an enclosure, and classroom activities are shifted to the mosque.

In the complex there was a madrasah and bazaar that do not exist today. Some of the 63 shops in the bazaar are located near the northern wall of the courtyard.


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Defterdar, Eyüp - İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°02'24.1"N 28°56'28.8"E / 41.040028, 28.941333


It is also called Small Mosque of Hacı Hüsrev and Small Mosque of Ümmi-Hân. The temple is out of Eğrikapı (Bent Door) and it is between this door and  Yâvedûd Tomb, in the place where Yenimahalle Street and Hacı Hüsrev Mosque Street intersect and on the right corner of Hüsrev Street. During the construction of Golden Horn Bridge and its connecting roads, it was removed together with the whole area, District of Abdülvedûd, Tokmaktepe and cemeteries excluding a couple of streets.

Since the temple was built on slanting land, it was located on the top. It is massive stone construction. On its right side, its door, its minaret made of thin bricks and facing the last assembly, only its body and bottom part of its balcony are seen. Its wooden roof was covering the temple and last place of assembly. It has no inscription.

The mosque which has remained under Golden Horn Bridge was dismantled by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality in 1996 and moved to the point where Ayvansaray City Walls ended, near Kaab tomb and its transfer construction and restoration was completed. The mosque was rebuilt here by government decree after the nearby bridge over the Golden Horn was built in 1988.

Alongside green gardens, fountains, roses and flowery trees, the Hacı Hüsrev Mosque in İstanbul boasts the tombs of four known companions of the Prophet Muhammad as well as the tomb of a famous Ottoman soldier who died during the conquest of the city. In order to reach this mosque, you must head to the district of Eyüp, and from there, when you see the signs for Feshane and Ayvansaray, turn right immediately and park your car.

To one side of this old mosque lie the historical walls of Byzantium, while on the other side lies a modern highway. Across from it is the Golden Horn. The structure is made of stone and is actually in many ways quite modest. Most importantly, the Hacı Hüsrev Mosque offers up a unique island of calm and serenity for those who need a break from the rapid pace of İstanbul that races around them.

The moment you step into what may appear at first to be the very carefully kept grounds of a park, you will be struck by the beauty of the red roses, which may cause you to leave your cares and fatigue at the entranceway. This garden is full of fruit trees and flowers. Walk a bit further and the mosque you are looking for will be on your right. You might want to stop first at the tombs of the companions of Prophet Muhammad though. Pass the fountain to reach the tombs and look to your right.

After passing through the gate in this wall, you will have arrived at the tomb of Shaybah al-Khudri, the “milk brother” of the Prophet Muhammad. Next to this tomb are the tombs of Abu Ahmed al-Ansari and Hamidullah al-Ansari, both companions of the Prophet. And of course, at the end of where these tombs lie, there is another notable resting spot, this one of the martyr Toklu İbrahim Dede.

Right next to the mosque lies yet another tomb. This is Ka’b’s tomb. He, too, was a companion of the Prophet. This tomb looks like a tiny little mosque. In one corner of this tomb lies the empty coffin of Ka’b, while there is also an area to pray and even a mihrab (niche showing the direction of Mecca).

The Hacı Hüsrev Mosque is located across the Golden Horn with the historical walls of Byzantium on one side and a modern highway on the other. It is not quite clear exactly when this mosque was built, although the date on the Mehmet Ağa fountain that lies right next to it - built in 1691 - gives us an idea. And making things even more complicated, this mosque was originally not even here, since it was badly damaged in a fire that took place in the 1970s.

The path to the mosque lies between the Mehmet Ağa and Hacı İbrahim Efendi fountains. Just like its exterior, the interior to the mosque is both simple and serene. The windows on the left open up to the Golden Horn while those on the right give you a view of the Byzantine walls.


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Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'53.9"N 28°56'37.6"E / 41.014972, 28.943778


The complex is located in the Fatih district of Istanbul, Turkey, along the Adnan Menderes (formerly Vatan) Caddesi (Avenue), in a modern context. Fenari İsa Mosque (full name in Turkish: Molla Fenari İsa Camii), in Byzantine times known as the Lips Monastery, is a mosque in Istanbul, made of two former Eastern Orthodox churches. The complex is located in the Fatih district of Istanbul, Turkey, along the Adnan Menderes (formerly Vatan) Caddesi (Avenue), in a modern context.

In year 908 the Byzantine Admiral Konstantinos Lips, who would perish in 917 fighting against Simeon I's Bulgaria, inaugurated at the presence of the Emperor Leo VI the Wise a nunnery dedicated to the Virgin Theotokos "Immaculate Mother of God" in a place called "Merdosangaris", in the valley of the Lykos. The monastery, which had also a Xenon "hospital" with 15 beds attached, was known also after his name (Mone tou Livos), and became one of the largest of Constantinople.

The church was built on the remains of another shrine from the 6th century, and used the tombstones of an ancient Roman cemetery. Relics of Saint Irene were stored here. The church of the monastery, also dedicated to the Virgin, was built on the remains of another shrine of the sixth century, and using the tombstones of an ancient roman cemetery. The church hosted the relics of Saint Irene, and the monastery, according to its Typicon, hosted a total of 50 women. The church was generally known as "North Church".

After the Latin invasion and the restoration of the Byzantine Empire, between 1286 and 1304, Empress Theodora, widow of Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos (r. 1259-1282), erected another church dedicated to St. John the Baptist south of the first church. Several exponents of the imperial dynasty of the Palaiologos were buried there besides Theodora: her son Constantine, Empress Irene of Montferrat and her husband Emperor Andronikos II (r. 1282-1328).

This church is generally known as the "South Church". The Empress restored also the nunnery, which by that time had been possibly abandoned. According to its typikon, the nunnery at that time hosted a total of 50 women and also a Xenon for laywomen with 15 beds attached.

During the 14th century an esonarthex and a parekklesion were added to the church. The custom of burying members of the imperial family in the complex continued in the 15th century with Anna, first wife of Emperor John VIII Palaiologos (r. 1425-1448), in 1417. The church was possibly used as a cemetery also after 1453.

In 1497-1498, shortly after the Fall of Constantinople and during the reign of Sultan Beyazid II (1481-1512), the south church was converted into a mescit (a small mosque) in 1496 by the Ottoman dignitary Fenarizade Alaeddin Ali ben Yusuf Effendi, Kadıasker of Rumeli, and nephew of Molla Şemseddin Fenari, whose family belonged to the religious class of the ulema. He built a minaret in the southeast angle, and a mihrab in the apse. Since one of the head preachers of the madrasah was named Isa ("Jesus" in Arabic and Turkish), his name was added to that of the mosque.

During the reign of Sultan Murat IV, Sheikh Ise’l Mahvi transformed the northern church into a zawiya. The domes and pulleys of the masjid, converted into a mosque in 1650, were rebuilt in 1830. The structure, abandoned after the fire of 1918, has continued to serve as a mosque following restoration work between 1960 and 1963.

The edifice burned down in 1633, was restored in 1636 by Grand Vizier Bayram Pasha, who upgraded the building to cami (mosque) and converted the north church into a tekke (a dervish lodge). In this occasion the columns of the north church were substituted with piers, the two domes were renovated, and the mosaic decoration was removed.

After another fire in 1782, the complex was restored again in 1847/48. In this occasion also the columns of the south church were substituted with piers, and the balustrade parapets of the narthex were removed too. The building burned once more in 1918, and was abandoned. During excavations performed in 1929, twenty-two sarcophagi have been found. The complex has been thoroughly restored between the 1970s and 1980s by the Byzantine Society of America, and since then serves again as a mosque.

The north church has an unusual quincuncial (cross-in-square) plan, and was one of the first shrines in Constantinople to adopt this plan, whose prototype is possibly the Nea Ekklesia (New Church), erected in Constantinople in the year 880, of which no remains are extant. The dimensions of the north church are small: the naos is 13 meters long and 9.5 meters wide, and was sized according to the population living in the monastery at that time.

The masonry of the northern church was erected by alternating courses of bricks and small rough stone blocks. In this technique, which is typical of the Byzantine architecture of the 10th century, the bricks sink in a thick bed of mortar. This edifice has three high apses: the central one is polygonal, and is flanked by the other two, which served as pastophoria, prothesis and diakonikon. The apses are interrupted by triple and single lancet windows.

The walls of the central arms of the naos cross have two orders of windows: the lower order has triple lancet windows, the higher semicircular windows. Two long parekklesia, each one ended by a low apse, flanks the presbytery of the naos. The angular and central bays are very slender. At the four edges of the building are four small roof chapels, each surmounted by a cupola.

The remainders of the original decoration of this church are the bases of three of the four columns of the central bay, and many original decorating elements, which survive on the pillars of the windows and on the frame of the dome. The decoration consisted originally in marble panels and coloured tiles: the vaults were decorated with mosaic. Only spurs of it are now visible. As a whole, the north church presents strong analogies with the Bodrum Mosque (the church of Myrelaion).

The south church is a square room surmounted by a dome, and surrounded by two deambulatoria, an esonarthex and a parekklesion (added later). The north deambulatorium is the south parekklesion of the north church. This multiplication of spaces around the central part of the church is typical of the late Palaiologian architecture: the reason of that was the need for more space for tombs, monuments erected to benefactors of the church, etc. The central room is divided from the aisles by a triple arcade.

During the mass the believers were confined in the deambulatoria, which were shallow and dark, and could barely see what happened in the central part of the church. The masonry is composed of alternated courses of bricks and stone, typical of the late Byzantine architecture in Constantinople. The lush decoration of the south and of the main apses (the latter is heptagonal), is made of a triple order of niches, the middle order being alternated with triple windows.

The bricks are arranged to form patterns like arches, hooks, Greek frets, sun crosses, swastikas and fans. Between these patterns are white and dark red bands, alternating one course of stone with two to five of bricks. This is the first appearance of this most important decorating aspect of the Palaiologian architecture in Constantinople. The church has an exonarthex surmounted by a gallery, which was extended to reach also the north church.

The parekklesion was erected alongside the southern side of the south church, and was connected with the esonarthex, so that the room surrounds the whole complex on the west and south side. Several marble sarcophagi are placed within it. As a whole, this complex represents a notable example of the middle and late Byzantine Architecture in Constantinople.

Of the decoration of this church remain the bases of three of the four columns of the central bay, and many original decorating elements, which survive on the pillars of the windows and on the frame of the dome. The decoration consisted originally in marble panels and coloured tiles: the vaults were decorated with mosaics. Only spurs of it are now visible. As a whole, the north church presents strong analogies with the Bodrum Mosque (the church of Myrelaion).

The building comprises two churches, which, while differing in date and type, stand side by side, and communicate with each other through an archway in their common wall, and through a passage in the common wall of their narthexes. As if to keep the two churches more closely together, they are bound by an exonarthex, which, after running along their western front, returns eastwards along the southern wall of the south church as a closed cloister or gallery.

The North Church is of the normal four column type. The four columns which originally supported the dome were, however, removed when the building was converted into a mosque in Turkish times, and have been replaced by two large pointed arches which span the entire length of the church. But the old wall arches of the dome-columns are still visible as arched piercings in the spandrils of the Turkish arches. A similar Turkish 'improvement' in the substitution of an arch for the original pair of columns is found in the north side of the parecclesion attached to the Pammakaristos.

The dome with its eight windows is likewise Turkish. The windows are lintelled and the cornice is of the typical Turkish form. The bema is almost square and is covered by a barrel vault formed by a prolongation of the eastern dome arch; the apse is lighted by a lofty triple window. By what is an exceptional arrangement, the lateral chapels are as lofty both on the interior and on the exterior as is the central apse, but they are entered by low doors.

In the normal arrangement, as, for instance, in the Myrelaion, the lateral chapels are low and are entered by vaults rising to the same height as those of the angle chambers, between which the central apse rises higher both externally and internally. The chapels have niches arched above the cornice on three sides, and are covered by cross-groined vaults which combine with the semicircular heads of the niches to produce a very beautiful effect. To the east they have long bema arches flanked by two small semicircular niches, and are lighted by small single windows.

The church is preceded by a narthex in three bays covered by cross-groined vaults supported on strong transverse arches. At either end it terminates in a large semicircular niche. The northern one is intact, but of the southern niche only the arched head remains. The lower part of the niche has been cut away to afford access to the narthex of the south church. This would suggest that, at least, the narthex of the south church is of later date than the north church. Considered as a whole the north church is a good example of its type, lofty and delicate in its proportions.

The South Church narthex is unsymmetrical to the church and in its present form must be the result of extensive alteration. It is in two very dissimilar bays. That to the  north is covered with a cross-groined vault of lath and plaster, probably on the model of an original vault constructed of brick. A door in the eastern wall leads to the north aisle of the church. The southern bay is separated from its companion by a broad arch. It is an oblong chamber reduced to a figure approaching a square by throwing broad arches across its ends and setting back the wall arches from the cornice.

This arrangement allows the bay to be covered by a low drumless dome. Two openings, separated by a pier, lead respectively to the nave and the southern aisle of the church. The interior of the church has undergone serious alterations since it has become a mosque, but enough of the original building has survived to show that the plan was that of an 'ambulatory church.

Each side of the ambulatory is divided into three bays, covered with cross-groined vaults whose springings to the central area correspond exactly to the columns of such an arcade as that which occupies the west dome bay of S. Andrew. We may therefore safely assume that triple arcades originally separated the ambulatory from the central area and filled in the lower part of the dome arches. The tympana of these arches above were pierced to north, south, and west by three windows now built up but whose outlines are still visible beneath the whitewash which has been daubed over them. The angles of the ambulatory are covered by cross vaults.

The pointed arches at present opening from the ambulatory to the central area were formed to make the church more suitable for Moslem worship, as were those of the north church. In fact we have here a repetition of the treatment of the Pammakaristos, when converted into a mosque. The use of cross-groined vaults in the ambulatory is a feature which distinguishes this church from the other ambulatory churches of Constantinople and connects it more closely with the domed-cross church. The vaults in the northern portion of the ambulatory have been partially defaced in the course of Turkish repairs.

The central apse is lighted by a large triple window. It is covered by a cross-groined vault and has on each side a tall shallow segmental niche whose head rises above the springing cornice. Below this the niches have been much hacked away. The passages leading to the lateral chapels are remarkably low, not more than 1.90 m high to the crown of the arch.

The southern chapel is similar to the central apse, and is lighted by a large triple window. The northern chapel is very different. It is much broader; broader indeed than the ambulatory which leads to it, and is covered by barrel vaults. The niches in the bema only rise to a short distance above the floor, not, as on the opposite side, to above the cornice. It is lighted by a large triple window similar to those of the other two apses.

The outer narthex on the west of the two churches and  the gallery on the south of the south church are covered with cross-groined vaults without transverse arches. The wall of the south church, which shows in the south gallery, formed the original external wall of the building. It is divided into bays with arches in two and three orders of brick reveals, and with shallow niches on the broader piers.

The exterior of the two churches is very plain. On the west are shallow wall arcades in one order, on the south similar arcades in two orders. The northern side is inaccessible owing to the Turkish houses built against it. On the east all the apses project boldly. The central apse of the south church has seven sides and shows the remains of a decoration of niches in two stories similar to that of the Pantokrator; the other apses present three sides. The carved work on the window shafts is throughout good.

An inscription commemorating the erection of the northern church is cut on a marble string-course which, when complete, ran across the whole eastern end, following the projecting sides of the apses. The letters are sunk and marked with drill holes. Wulff is of opinion that the letters were originally filled in with lead, and, from the evidence of this lead infilling, dates the church as late as the fifteenth century.

But it is equally possible that the letters were marked out by drill holes which were then connected with the chisel, and that the carver, pleased by the effect given by the sharp points of shadow in the drill holes, deliberately left them. The grooves do not seem suitable for retaining lead. In the course of their history both churches were altered, even in Byzantine days. The south church is the earlier structure, but shows signs of several rebuildings.

The irregular narthex and unsymmetrical eastern side chapels are evidently not parts of an original design. In the wall between the two churches there are indications which appear to show the character of these alterations and the order in which the different buildings were erected. As has already been pointed out, the north side of the ambulatory in the south church, which for two-thirds of its  length is of practically the same width as the southern and western sides, suddenly widens out at the eastern end and opens into a side chapel broader than that on the opposite side.

The two large piers separating the ambulatory from the central part of the north church are evidently formed by building the wall of one church against the pre-existing wall of the other. The easternmost pier is smaller and, as can be seen from the plan, is a continuation of the wall of the north church. Clearly the north church was already built when the north-eastern chapel of the south church was erected, and the existing wall was utilised. As the external architectural style of the three apses of the south church is identical, it is reasonable to conclude that this part of the south church also is later in date than the north church.

For if the entire south church had been built at the same time as the apses, we should expect to find the lateral chapels similar. But they are not. The vaulting of the central apse and of the southern lateral chapel are similar, while that of the northern chapel is different. On the same supposition we should also expect to find a similar use of the wall of the north church throughout, but we have seen that two piers representing the old wall of the south church still remain. The narthex of the south church, however, is carried up to the line of the north church wall.

The four column type is not found previous to the tenth century. The date of the north church was originally given on the inscription, but is now obliterated. Kondakoff dates it in the eleventh or twelfth century. Wulff would put it as late as the fifteenth. But if the view that this church was attached to the monastery of Lips is correct, the building must belong to the tenth century.

The ambulatory type appears to be early, and the examples in Constantinople seem to date from the sixth to the ninth century. It may therefore be concluded that, unless there is proof to the contrary, the south church is the earlier. In that case the southernmost parts of the two large piers which separate the two churches represent the old outer wall of the original south church, whose eastern chapels were then symmetrical.

To this the north church was added, but at some subsequent date the apses of the south church demanded repair and when they were rebuilt, the north-eastern chapel was enlarged by the cutting away of the old outer wall. To this period also belongs the present inner narthex. The fact that the head of the terminal niche at the south end of the north narthex remains above the communicating door shows that the south narthex is later. The outer narthex and south gallery are a still later addition.


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