Thursday, August 30, 2018


Keçeciler, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°01'19.0"N 28°56'37.0"E / 41.021944, 28.943611


The Mosque is in Istanbul's Fatih district, in Keçeciler, on Eski Ali Paşa street. It has been written on the tomb of Mesih Mehmed Pasha, that the mosque was built by Architec Mimar Sinan in 1585. Mesih Mehmed Pasha Mosque has one dome, one minaret and three doors. The Mosque was dedicated to one of Sultan Murad III's Grand Viziers, Mesih Mehmed Pasha.

Born in Bosnia, Mesih Mehmet Pasha had served at every level of the Palace administration to ascend to the level of Grand Vizier. In an interesting way, the side galleries in the mosque interior have been separated from the main space by a wall. The variety in the grill figures on the exterior wall is also quite striking. In an unusual way, the open tomb of Mesih Mehmet Pasha, who died in 1589, was placed in the center of the mosque court in place of a fountain.

Hadım Mesih Pasha was an Ottoman statesman. He was Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire from 1585-1586. Born in Bosnia, Mesih Mehmet Pasha had served at every level of the Palace administration to ascend to the level of Grand Vizier. In an interesting way, the side galleries in the mosque interior have been separated from the main space by a wall. The variety in the grill figures on the exterior wall is also quite striking.

Having a rectangular plan, the mosque central dome is 12.8 m in diameter. Abundant windows provide a bright interior. Ablution cocks were placed under the porticos when the tomb of Mesih Pasha inconsistent with tradition replaced the şadırvan in the courtyard. In plan the building is an octagon inscribed in a square with semidomes as squinches in the diagonals; to north and south are galleries. But the odd feature is that what in most mosques of this form are aisles under the galleries are here turned into porches.

That is, where you would expect an arcade of columns, you find a wall with windows opening onto an exterior gallery which, in turn, opens to the outside by enormous arches, now glazed in. The mihrab and mimber are very fine works in marble, as are the grilles above the windows. Tiles of the best period complete the decoration of this interesting building.

The courtyard of the mosque is attractive but rather sombre. It consists of the usual domed porticoes under which, rather unusually, are the ablution fountains; this is because the place of the şadırvan in the centre of the courtyard has been taken by the picturesque open türbe of the founder. The mosque is preceded by a double porch, but the wooden roof of the second porch has disappeared, leaving the arcades to support nothing; the inner porch has the usual five bays.

A distinguishing feature from the other mosques built for the viziers is that there are no madrasa rooms at three of the sides of the mosque. It contains the simplest tile decoration among the Sinan’s buildings. The building was completed by the contribution of Mimar Davud Ağa.

The mosque contains the tomb of Mesih Paşha. In an unusual way, the open tomb of Mesih Mehmet Pasha, who died in 1589, was placed in the center of the mosque court in place of a fountain. It was completed in 1586 and was built before his dismissal from the grand vizierate.

This mosque, whose usage was intermitted after the earthquake of 1894, continued to be used after having been repaired in 1936 - 1939 and 1955 - 1957. The fountain under the mosque was restored in 1817 at the request of Beyhan Sultan, daughter of Sultan Mustafa III. Preservig its 16th century architectural character and form, the monument have remained still until the 20th century.


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Silivrikapı, Topkapı - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°01'16.0"N 28°55'44.0"E / 41.021111, 28.928889


The Kara Ahmet Pasha Mosque is an Ottoman mosque along the city walls in Istanbul, Turkey. Dated 1558, Kara Ahmed Pasha Mosque, in Topkapı Street at Arpa Emini Slope. Kara Ahmet Pasha Mosque, also known as Gazi Ahmet Paşa Camii is one of Mimar Sinan's lesser-known achievements. He built it in 1554 for Kara Ahmed Pasha, a grand vizier of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent. This is a great mosque complex which is one of the loveliest and most masterful of the works of Sinan.

This mosque is part of a külliye which is situated in the Topkapı district (alongt north-west city walls) and also includes a medrese, a primary school. The complex was built at the request of Kara Ahmet Pasha, one of Kanuni Sultan Süleyman's sadrazams (Prime Minister). The medrese and the mosque share the same courtyard while the primary school and the tomb remain at a distance from the mosque.

The courtyard is surrounded by the cells of a medrese and a dershane, or main classroom. Attractive apple green and yellow Iznik tiles grace the porch, while blue and white ones are found on the east wall of the prayer hall. These tiles date from the mid 16th century. On the three galleries, the wooden ceiling under the west one is elaborately painted in red, blue, gold and black.

Kara Ahmet Pasha Mosque is 19.3 x 26.3 m dimension. Lighted by 80 windows, the mosque is unique in İstanbul with its beautiful ceramic tiles at the entrance; 16th century penmanship of the müezzin mahfel; and its timber ceiling. The windows on both sides of the entrance rise as high as the latecomers' porch.

With the Kara Ahmet Pasha Mosque (1558-1565) Sinan attempts to improve on the Üç şerefeli and Sinan Pasha mosques by adding trompes to the hexagon structure. Another interesting aspect of the plan is that its polygon based dom is supported by independent columns. These columns stand very close to the main entrance (north) and kiblah (south) walls. The two columns on each side are linked by arches to the buttresses which rise in the middle of the side galleries.

The complex was restored by Aydınbeyzade Hasan Ağa in 1696. After the 1894 earthquake, the collapsed dome and other buildings in the complex were restored within two years. The fountain, in the courtyard, lost its features as a result of being restored.

Grand Vizier Ahmed Pasha, killed in 1555, was buried in this tomb, which was built by Sinan the Architect in 1559.

The elementary School is a single storey building with dimensions 7.6 x 14.7 m with a playground. Although it has lost its features, the Elementary School is still one of the best conserved buildings in the complex. The small mosque, built by Kara Ahmed Pasha’s wife Fatma Sultan, can be seen a little forward from the mosque. The madrasah, with 16 rooms and a classroom, must have built about 1560. The fountain, in the courtyard, lost its features as a result of being restored.


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Kocamustafa Paşa, Fatih - İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'12.0"N 28°55'43.0"E / 41.003333, 28.928611


The building lies in the Istanbul district of Fatih, in the neighborhood of Kocamustafapaşa, along Koca Mustafa Paşa Caddesi. It is placed inside the walled city, and not far from the church of Saint John of Stoudion, on the slopes of the seventh hill of Constantinople near the sea of Marmara.

Koca Mustafa Pasha Mosque (Turkish: Koca Mustafa Paşa Camii; also named Sünbül Efendi Camii) is a former Eastern Orthodox church converted into a mosque by the Ottomans, located in Istanbul, Turkey. The church, as the adjoining monastery, was dedicated to Saint Andrew of Crete, and was named Saint Andrew in Krisei or by-the-Judgment (Monr tοu Hagiοu Andreοu en tē Krisei). Although heavily transformed during both the Byzantine and the Ottoman eras, it is one among the few churches in Istanbul still extant, whose foundation goes back to the sixth century.

At the beginning of the 5th century, Princess Arcadia, sister of Emperor Theodosius II (r. 408-450), ordered the construction, near the Gate of Saturninus, of a monastery dedicated to Saint Andrew. The building, named also Rodophylion lay about 600 m. west of the gate. The monastery was later converted into a nunnery, mentioned for the first time in 792. The monastery of Saint Andrew was known under the appellation "by-the-Judgment", after the place where it lay, named "the Judgment".

Saint Andrew of Crete, a martyr of the fight against Byzantine Iconoclasm, killed on 20 November 766 in the Forum Bovis because of his opposition to the iconoclastic policies of Emperor Constantine V (r. 741-775), was buried there. Due to his popularity after the final triumph of Orthodoxy, the dedication of the church changed from Saint Andrew the Apostle to him. During the second half of the ninth century, Emperor Basil I (r. 867-886) wholly rebuilt the church, which possibly had been damaged during the iconoclastic fights.

Around 1284, Princess Theodora Raoulaina, niece of Michael VIII Palaiologos (r. 1259-1282) and wife of protovestiarios John Raoul Petraliphas, rebuilt the monastery and the church, deserving the appellation of second ktetorissa. She spent the last fifteen years of her life in the monastery, and was buried there. Neglected during the Latin occupation of Constantinople, two Russian pilgrims visiting Constantinople in 1350 and between 1425 and 1450 mention the church, affirming that Saint Andrew was worshiped by many who were afflicted by sickness.

Andreas Men Monastery, which existed in the 6th century, and a cemetery dated to the 5th century, existed in this place, when the structure was constructed, but information on the early period is unavailable. The monastery was given for the using by nuns afterwards. The church named Andreas after the relics of Saint Hosios Andreas the Cretan, who contributed too much effort for the acceptance of Christianity by the Byzantine people and who was executed on the 20th of November 766, were brought.

Emperor Basileos I renovated the church along with the ecclesiastical buildings around it between in years 867 and 886. The monastery was quite damaged during the Crusader occupation, it was rebuilt by Princess Theodora in 1284. The princess was buried in the monastery where she was cloistered.

Towards the end of its Byzantine period another Russian pilgrim came to honour the remains of S. Andrew the Strategos, and bring the Christian history of the church to a close. It was converted into a mosque by Mustapha Pasha, Grand Vizier in the reign of Sultan Selim I. (1512-1520). The custom of illuminating the minarets of the mosques on the eve of the Prophet's birthday was introduced first at this mosque.

After the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople the monastery, known by the Turks as Kızlar Kilisesi (women's church), continued to be inhabited for a while. Between 1486 and 1491 Kapıcıbaşı (and later Grand Vizier) Koca Mustafa Pasha, executed in 1512, converted the church into a mosque. Some years later, the building of the monastery was endowed by his son-in-law, Şeih Çelebi Efendi as Tekke for the Dervishes of the Halveti order.

The dervishes were led at that time by the Sufi Master Sünbül Efendi. His türbe, a popular destination for Muslim pilgrims, lies next to the mosque, which is also named after him. At the beginning of the sixteenth century there were quarrels between Sultan Selim I and Şeih Çelebi, since the sultan wanted to pull down part of the monastery to build the Topkapı Palace.

Also in this period was born the tradition related to a chain hung to a cypress tree. The cypress is since long dead but still stands - together with the chain - inside a small round building in the yard of the mosque. The chain was swung between two people who were affirming contradictory statements, and the chain was said to hit the one who was telling the truth.

The dead Cypress where the chain once used as "lie detector" (now hidden in the wooden shelter) still hangs. The mosque lies on the right, while in foreground stands a column-shaped fountain. Behind the tree is visible the dome of the türbe of Sünbül Efendi.

This is one among many surviving folk tales concerning the mosque (like those about the çifte Sultanlar, the "twin Sultans"), all with Byzantine roots. They testify the merge between Ottoman and Greek popular culture and beliefs.

At the beginning of 17th century, Defterdar (treasury minister) Ekmekçizade Ahmet Paşa (d. 1618) let build a Medrese, the gates of the complex, a zaviye, and a mekteb (school). About one century later Hekimbaşı (Sultan's chief physician) Giridli Nuh Efendi (d. 1707) closed the Tekke and enlarged the Medrese, while in 1737 Kızlar Ağası Hacı Beşir Ağa erected in the yard a column-shaped fountain.

Chief Doctor Nuh Efendi built a madrasah, square planned with 14 rooms and one classroom, in place of a previous tekke. Kızlarağası Beşir Ağa built a monolithic marble fountain in the courtyard in 1737. In the 19th century, dynasty members renovated various buildings of the complex.

The earthquake of 1766 destroyed the dome of the building: it was rebuilt in 1768. During the 19th century, Sultan Mahmud II (r. 1808-1839) rebuilt the porch. In 1847-1848, Sultan Abdülmecid I (r. 1839-1861) let the wall which encircles the complex be rebuilt. Some years later two fountains were erected in the yard of the mosque. Finally, in 1953, the building was restored again. The tradition to light up the minaret of the mosques on the eve of the anniversary of the birth of Prophet Muhammad (Mawlid al-Nabi) was born in the Koca Mustafa Mosque.

Sünbül Efendi (died 1529 AD in Istanbul) was the founder of the Sünbüliyye Sufi order (also spelt Sünbüli). The Sünbüliyye were a derivative of the Khalwati (also spelt Halveti and Halvetiye ) order. Sünbül is the Turkish word for hyacinth (plant), a flower. Sünbül Efendi's successors, the next generations were settled around 1550 in Nurullah town by Konur, Içel Province.

The building was originally of the ambulatory type, and is oriented in east-northeast - west-southwest direction. It has a central dome and a three apses, placed of the east side. An esonarthex and exonarthex are placed in the west side. On the other three sides the dome was originally surrounded by arcades surmounted by barrel vaults. During the Ottoman period the building underwent important alterations. The entrance is on the north side, where the Ottomans built an arcade covered by five domes.

After the earthquake of 1766, the central dome was rebuilt. It is circular inside, octagonal outside, and rests on a high drum pierced by eight windows. On the north and south sides of the main dome, two half domes were added during the Ottoman period. They are also both pierced by three large windows, which outside look like dormers.

All the domes rest on arches. The eastern arch sustaining the main dome is prolonged into a barrel vault bema, flanked by niches which originally led to the Prothesis and Diaconicon. Only the diaconicon, covered with a cross-groined vault, survives. The west arch sustaining the dome is filled in with a triple arcade resting on two marble columns topped by cubic capitals. The inner narthex is divided into three bays. The north one is covered with an Ottoman dome. The central one is surmounted by a barrel vault, while the south one is surmounted by a cross groined vault.

The last two are Byzantine. The outer narthex is divided into five bays, the three central corresponding with those of the inner narthex. The central bay is covered by a central saucer dome resting on pendentives. It is separated by the two intermediate bays by columns set against pilasters. These two bays are covered with groined vaults put on ionic capitals, which resemble those used in the Church of Saints Sergius and Baccus. The two external bays are surmounted by central saucer domes and are separated from the others by projecting pilasters.

The exterior is clearly Ottoman. It is made with finely dressed and polished stone, with no tiles, and has a stone moulded cornice. Above the drum of the halfdomes there is a stone molded cornice. The square base of the drum and the dome itself are faced with polished stone alternating with courses of three bricks set in a thick bed of mortar. Also the dome is crowned with a stone molded cornice. The roof is covered with lead.

The Byzantine monastery has disappeared completely, except for an underground cistern which lies southeast of the mosque. A beautiful Byzantine carved door frame, possibly of the sixth century, belonging to the Medrese, has been brought to the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. Despite its architectural significance, the building has never undergone a systematic study.

On account of the serious changes made in the building and its surroundings when it became a mosque, and after the earthquake of 1765, its real character is not immediately apparent. The present entrance is in the northern side, where a fine Turkish arcade has been erected. The mihrab is on the south side, a greater change for the correct orientation of a mosque than is usually necessary in the adaptation of a church to the requirements of a sanctuary in which the worshippers turn towards Mecca.

To the east a hall has been added for the accommodation of women who attend the services; while on the west is another hall, where the dervishes of the Tekke attached to the mosque hold their meetings. The north aisle also has been much altered and is covered with Turkish domes.

The first impression produced by the interior of the building is that we have here a church on the trefoil plan, similar to S. Mary of the Mongols  or S. Elias of Salonica, for the central area is flanked by two semi-domes, which with the eastern apse form a lobed plan at the vaulting level. A closer examination of the building, however, will prove that we are dealing with a structure whose original features have been concealed by extensive Turkish alterations, and that the trefoil form is a superficial disguise.

The arches supporting the central dome on the north and south sides are filled in with semi-domes which rest on arches thrown diagonally across the 'aisles' on each side of the central dome. These arches are very clumsily set to the sides of an irregular hexagon, with the central wall arch much larger than the side arches. They have no responds, and have every appearance of being makeshifts.

The eastern dome arch is prolonged into a barrel-vaulted bema, flanked by shallow niches leading to the prothesis and diaconicon, and beyond the bema is the semicircular apse. Only the diaconicon now remains, covered by a cross-groined vault, and its apse pierced by a door leading to the hall of the Teké. The place of the prothesis has been taken by a similar door and a small Turkish dome.

The western dome arch is filled in with a triple arcade resting on two marble columns with finely carved cubical capitals. Above the arcade is a group of three windows whose heads are circular on the inside, but pointed on the outside. To the west of this arcade is an oblong passage corresponding to the 'inner narthex' of S. Theodosia. It is in three bays.

The central long bay is barrel-vaulted; the two outer bays open into the north and south aisles; the bay to the north is covered by a Turkish dome, while that to the south has a cross-groined vault which seems to be original. Beyond this to the west is the outer narthex, a fine piece of work, and, from the character of its details, of the same period as the western dome arcade. It is in five bays.

The three central bays correspond to the 'inner narthex'; the middle bay is covered by a low saucer dome on pendentives, and is separated from the two side bays by columns set against flat pilasters. The latter bays are covered by groined vaults springing from the imposts of the capitals, which are of the Byzantine Ionic type, with high carved imposts. They resemble the capitals in the gallery of SS. Sergius and Bacchus, and are worthy of particular notice.

The two outer bays are separated from the central compartment of three bays by strongly projecting pilasters. They are covered by low saucer domes similar to the dome over the central bay, and communicate on the east with the 'aisles.' Both outer and inner narthexes are in one story, above which rise the windows of the western dome arch and the semi-domes on north and south.

Turning now to the exterior, the south wall is the only outer wall which is exposed at the ground level. It is faced with finely dressed and polished stone, with thin joints, no tiles, and a stone-moulded cornice. The windows are covered with four centred Turkish arches and are evident insertions. Above the stone cornice rise the low drums of the semi-domes. These, as well as the square base of the dome and the dome itself, are faced with polished stone alternating with courses of three bricks set in thick beds of mortar.

The angles are plain, without shafts, and the drums, dome base, and dome are crowned with stone cornices moulded to a reversed ogee. The north and south semi-domes are each pierced by three large windows, which on the interior cut through the curved surface of the domes, and on the exterior appear as dormers in the roof above the cornice.

Accordingly they are double glazed, with one glazed frame on the inside corresponding to the curved dome surface, and a second upright glazed frame on the outside. The roofs are covered with lead. The central dome is circular inside, with a high drum pierced by eight windows. On the outside it is octagonal, with a window on each side. These have circular arched heads, but have no moulding, shaft, or inset to either arches or sides. The dome is crowned by a moulded stone cornice of the same type as that of the other walls.

In attempting to reconstruct the original form of the church we may first note those features which are evidently Turkish. None of the exterior masonry is Byzantine, as the use of polished ashlar with fine joints, of pointed arches, and of moulded stone cornices clearly proves. The absence of shafts at the angles of the dome drums and the unrecessed windows are additional proofs of this fact, and we may conclude that the entire exterior was refaced in Turkish times.

The diagonal arches under the north and south semi-domes are peculiar. Furthermore, in lobed Byzantine churches the lateral apses project beyond the square outer walls. Here they are contained within the walls. Nor are the semi-domes themselves Byzantine in character. The large windows in the dome surface and the lead-covered dormers placed above the flat moulded cornice betray a Turkish hand; for windows in the dome are universal in the great Turkish mosques, and the method of protecting them on the exterior with wooden dormers is quite foreign to Byzantine ideas.

The form of the drums and cornices should be compared with the minor domes of the mosque of Sultan Bayazid. A careful examination of the building has led to the following conclusions. The lateral semi-domes with their supporting arches are a Turkish addition. The central dome, including the drum, is probably entirely Turkish, and takes the place of an original ribbed dome. The two easternmost domes in the north 'aisle' and those over the inner narthex and the prothesis are also Turkish, and, as already stated, the exterior of the entire building.

On the other hand, the eastern apse, the dome arches, the arcade, and the windows above it on the west side of the dome, the inner narthex with the ground vault to the south of it, and the entire outer narthex, are parts of the original building, dating probably from the sixth or seventh century. It should be particularly noticed that the windows over the western dome arcade are circular-headed inside, though they have been provided with pointed heads on the outside in the process of refacing.

If we stand in the northern lateral apse and face the mihrab the reason for the alterations is evident. The original Christian orientation is ignored, and the apses, in place of being lateral, are terminal. To the left is the old apse left unaltered; to the right, the original filling of the dome arch forms a 'nave-arcade' similar to that of the mosque of Sultan Bayazid; while by means of the additional apses the building has been converted into a miniature imperial mosque of the S. Sophia type, a distinctly clever piece of Turkish alteration.

In its original form the central dome was surrounded by an 'ambulatory' of one story formed by the aisles and 'inner narthex.' Such a plan is common to both the domed basilica type and the domed cross type, the difference depending upon the treatment of the cross arms above. In both types, however, the side dome arches are invariably filled in with arcades similar to that filling in the western arch of S. Andrew. We are therefore justified in restoring such arcades here.

The type thus restored differs from the domed cross church in that the cross arms do not extend to the outer walls, and from the domed basilica in that the western dome arch is treated in a similar manner to the lateral arches. To this type the term 'ambulatory church' may be applied. Adjoining the west end of the church is the fine cloister of the Tekke of dervishes, probably on the lines of the old monastery. All the columns around the court are Byzantine, and one of them bears the inscription: the (column) of, Theophane.

In the south wall is built a beautiful Byzantine doorway having jambs and lintel decorated on the face with a broad undercut scroll of flat leaves and four-petalled flowers, running between two rows of egg and dart, while on the intrados are two bands of floral ornaments separated by a bead moulding. One of the bands is clearly a vine scroll. The method employed here, of joining leaves to a centre so as to form spiral rosettes, is found also on some of the small capitals in S. Sophia. Similar rosettes appear in the decoration of the doorway to the Holy Sepulchre on the ivory in the Trivulce collection at Milan.

Sünbül Efendi Tomb
The tombs of Sheikh Yusuf Sünbül Sinanüddin Efendi, who died in 1559, and his wife Safiye Sultan still draw many visitors. Sultan Mahmut II figured out that two daughters of Hz. Hüseyin were murdered at the bottom of a 500 years old tree, near the tomb, and he built an open tomb there. The tomb’s calligraphy was inscribed by Yesarizade Mustafa İzzet. Near the türbe of Mustafa Pasha. Several Halveti Sheiks were buried in the cemetery behind the Mosque.

The tomb of Sümbül Sinan Efendi is next to the Koca Mustafa Pasha Mosque in Istanbul. The site of his tomb was once his Tekke and is now a mosque. The Tekke itself was once a convent that was abandoned after the conquest of Constantinople and handed over to the Khalwatis by the Sultan to use as a Tekke. Almost all of the sheikhs who sat at the post of grand sheikh of this order are buried at the Tekke, including another noted Sheikh of this order, Merkez Efendi (d.1552) in Yenikapı. The tomb is frequently visited by Muslims, some of whom consider him to be a saint.

The fact that the türbe of Sümbül Efendi (Sünbül is the Turkish word for hyacinth (plant), a flower.) - an esteemed Ottoman scholar honoring Kocamustafapaşa’s Ali Fakih district with his presence for almost 500 years - has always been a center of attraction notwithstanding, it has begun to host an even greater number of visitors in recent years. During his lifetime, Sünbül Efendi was responsible for a well that is known as the well of health.

Just beyond the cemetery is Sümbül Efendi’s türbe. It is very clean and well-looked after. Further along lies Şeyh Yakup Efendi, and to the north is Şeyh Hasan Adli Efendi’s grave. One must not forget to read the Fatiha while here. At the foot of Sümbül Efendi’s türbe lie the grandchildren of Caliph Ali, descended from his son Hüseyin. According to one narration, these twin sultans, as they are called, came to İstanbul with the Prophet’s companions for the conquest of İstanbul and passed away here.

According to another story, they were captured as prisoners of war by the Byzantines and thus came to İstanbul. The graves of these two sultans, Fatma and Sakine, were lost over time. Sümbül Efendi discovered that they were buried here. Their current türbe was subsequently constructed by Sultan Mahmud II. At the head of their türbe is a centuries-old cypress protected by a wooden structure. It is believed that this cypress was planted after their burial by Jabir, a companion of the Prophet.

The dergah has become a place frequented by Alevis due to the presence of these twin sultans. In the middle of the courtyard is the Sümbül Efendi Mosque. The mosque was in fact originally a Byzantine church. The church was converted into a mosque by Koca Mustafa Paşa upon the request of Sultan Bayezid II. The mosque has a constantly changing congregation. The last few years in particular, and with the influence of the mosque’s imam, the congregation has been teeming, even during morning prayers. The mosque itself, however, is in need of a restoration.


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Saturday, August 25, 2018


Alemdar, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'36.6"N 28°58'42.6"E / 41.010167, 28.978500


The Zeynep Sultan Mosque is built in 1769 by Ayazma Mosque's architect Mehmet Tahir Ağa for Sultan Ahmed III's daughter Zeynep Asime Sultan. It evokes Byzantine churches because of its architectural style and materials that were used in its construction.

The Zeynep Sultan Mosque in baroque style can be seen along the Alemdar Street. The dome of the mosque, which has a square layout, measures 12.2 m in diameter. The mosque, whose interior side was ornamented with crayons. In form it is merely a small square room covered by a dome, with a square projecting apse to the east and a porch with five bays to the west.

The mosque looks rather like a Byzantine church, partly from being built in courses of stone and brick, but more so because of its very Byzantine dome, for the cornice of the dome undulates to follow the extrados of the round-arched windows, a pretty arrangement generally used in Byzantine churches but hardly ever in Turkish mosques. The little sibyan mektebi at the corner just beyond the mosque is part of the foundation and appears to be still in use as a primary school.

After his murder during a Janissary rebellion, the dead body of the Grand Vizier Alemdar Mustafa Pasha was removed from the well near the Yedikule Dungeons and buried at the mosque in 1908.

The corpse of Zeynep Sultan, after remaining buried in the basement until 1950, was moved into her present tomb, when her original tomb was destroyed during construction work on the horse - drawn tram project in 1912. In addition, the tomb of her husband, Grand Vizier Melek Mehmet Pasha, who was Sultan Selim III's Grand Vizieris in the mosque.

The mosque is on Alemdar Caddesi (Street) in Istanbul, across the street from Gülhane Park and viewable from the tram that circulates the city. In the back side of the mosque there is a building which was once used as The elementary school (sibyan mektebi) of the complex was assigned to the Turkish Monuments Association in 1988.

The fountain in front of the mosque was moved to the Zeynep Sultan Mosque because of the construction works of the Fourth Vakıf Han. Yesari Mehmet Efendi is the calligrapher of the fountain. The fountain built as a part of the Sultan Abdülhamit I Complex in 1778 is the work of the Architect Tahir Ağa and is used as a kiosk today.

The complex built by the Architect Mehmet Tahir Ağa in 1769, whose interior side was ornamented with crayons, was restored in 1917, 1958, and 1983.


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Çırağan, Beşiktaş - İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°02'43.0"N 29°01'01.3"E / 41.045278, 29.017028


The mosque is located on the Çırağan Street near the entrance to the Yıldız Park. Beşiktaş Police Station is located nearby, Çırağan Palace is across the street.

The Küçük Mecidiye Mosque (Çırağan Mosque) is an Ottoman mosque in the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul, Turkey. It was built from the order of Sultan Abdülmecid I in 1848 by Nigoğos Balyan, member of the Balyan family. The mosque is located on the Çırağan Street near the entrance to the Yıldız Park. Beşiktaş Police Station is located nearby, Çırağan Palace is across the street.

The mosque has a single minaret.


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Sultanahmet - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'20.0"N 28°58'36.0"E / 41.005556, 28.976667



Work on the Complex of Ahmed I (1603-1617) began in August 1609 (1108 AH). The southern part of the ancient Hippodrome or Atmeydani (today's Sultanahmet Square) was cleared of residential palaces belonging to members of the aristocracy and a large portion of the Byzantine sphendone (the semi-circular end of the hippodrome) was taken down to make space for the mosque. Construction on the mosque finished in 1617 just before the sultan's death and work on the complex (külliye) continued for three years under his sons Mustafa I (1617-1618) and Osman II (1618-1622), who also built a mausoleum for their father and predecessor.

For a variety of reasons including the terrain of the site, master architect Sedefkar Mehmet Aga organized the complex's buildings in functional groups in the vicinity of the mosque rather than arrange them symmetrically around the mosque as was done in its precedents at Fatih and Süleymaniye.

The complex is composed of a mosque, royal pavilion (hünkar kasri), mausoleum (türbe), madrasa (medrese), school for koran readers (dar'ül kurra), Koranic school for boys (mekteb), hospice (tabhane), hospital (darüssifa), soup kitchen (imaret), an open air market street (arasta), rental rooms (kira odalari) and mansions (konak), cisterns (mahzen) and public fountains (sebil). The complex buildings conform to the orientation of the mosque, 39 degrees east of south.

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque) is the only one which has 6 minarets among mosques in Istanbul. The four minarets with three sherefes each (minaret balcony) were erected at the four corners of the mosque, and the remaining two short minarets with two sherefes each were erected opposite at two corners of the courtyard. The central dome, placed on four piers, is 33.6 meters in diameter and 43 meters high at its central point.  It is supported by four semi-domes. The ceiling structure of the Blue mosque is similar to the Şehzadebaşı (Prince) Mosque.

The interior of the mosque, which is 64 x 72 m, is lighted with 260 windows. The outer courtyard, encircled with windowed walls, has eight doors on both sides and in front. The inner courtyard with marble floor coverings is enclosed with 30 domes. The tulip and carnations motifs of the fountain with six columns in the inner courtyard is eye-catching. It is entered by the inner court with three doors.

Those three doors and the main door of the outer court are made of bronze.  On the pulpit of the mosque with nacre-inlay, the embroidered muezzin mahfil (a gallery/platform for the call to prayer) and the niche were worked with the architectural details. In addition, it has artistic value with carpets, kilims, rahles (reading desks), engravings, and colourful stained-glass windows.

The Sultanahmet Mosque has the unusual feature of having six minarets, four of which rise from the corners mosque and two lower minarets placed at the front corners of the courtyard. The four around the mosque have three balconies each, while the courtyard minarets are furnished with two. All six minarets have fluted shafts and balconies with stalactite corbels. The northeastern minaret was restored in 1955.

The mosque, named after its donor Sultan Ahmed I, has been donned the name "Blue" by foreign travelers based on the Kütahya tiles in dominant tones of blue, turquoise and green that cover most of its interior. The interior galleries have displays of tiles composed in panels at the balcony level depicting gardens with cypresses, flowers and fruit trees, but the most precious tiles have been used to decorate the royal lodge, which has notable jade and gilt work in its marble mihrab niche.

Similar motifs, painted in gold and corresponding colors, adorn the multiple convex facets of the elephant feet above their marble bases, two of which are furnished with fountains. This rich polychrome complexion of the interior comes alive with sublime light flooding the interior from three tiers of windows on the walls and numerous others pierced into the domes: The central dome has twenty-eight windows in its drum and each of the four semi-domes has fourteen. Colored glasses on windows were originally imported from Venice, but have since been replaced with modern substitutes.

The preacher's pulpit, doors and window shutters display mastery of woodcarving and mother of pearl inlay of the period. The mosque holds many treasures, such as Quranic tablets from the hand of the renowned Ameti Kasim Gubari, while many others have been lost or placed in museums. The interior has been renovated several times, as early as 1837, and also more recently.

The walled mosque precinct, enclosing the mosque and the royal pavilion, occupies the peak of a hill alongside the Atmeydani to the northwest. Terraces descend down to the Bosphorus on the southeast side of the precinct wall. In 1912, a fire leveled the Ishakpasa (today's Küçükayasofya) neighborhood down the hill from the mosque, allowing archaeologists to reveal the remains of the Great Palace of Emperors (Büyük Saray) that was inhabited between the 4th and the 12th centuries. The mosque and market streets that run along its precinct wall to the southeast were built over the undercrofts of this palace.

Further excavations in the market street and vicinity in 1935-1938, 1951-1954 and from 1983 to our day have unearthed 6th century palace floor mosaics that are on display at the Great Palace Mosaic Museum that occupies part of the rebuilt market street. Nothing remains of the rental rooms that were located above the stores here and others that were distributed among the buildings of the complex. The hamam of the market street, located at its southwest end, remains in disrepair.

On the north corner of the precinct, the madrasa (school for Koran readers) and the mausoleum form an enclosed cluster. These buildings were built on the cisterns of the 4th century Byzantine Sphendone, which was already in disuse by the early 13th century. The soup kitchen, hospital, and hospice form a second cluster that was built on top of the sphendone after the Hippodrome was filled with earth from the mosque's excavation. Only sections of the soup kitchen remain at this location today where an industrial school complex (mekteb-i sanayi) was built in the 19th century.

The qibla wall of the Sultan Ahmed I mosque doubles as a retaining wall to the southeast where there is a partial basement (mahzen) under the walled qibla garden; it is first in a series of terraces that were built downhill from the mosque. From here, two gated passages lead down to the level of rental housing that sits above market stores, culminating at portals on the market street and Tavukhane Street. An intermediate layer contains seven more rental rooms and a public fountain. The qibla wall has been differentiated in its design from the other walls to accommodate its special function.

Where the peripheral extensions on three sides are covered with three semi-domes, the qibla recess is composed with two semi-domes on the sides, joining a straight wall in between, where the tall marble frame of the mihrab niche is positioned at the center. The piers supporting the structure, which project freely into the mosque interior on three sides, have been restrained along the qibla wall, resulting in a flatter but more subtly varied surface. A slender marble minbar rises along the pilaster to the right of the mihrab, and is crowned with a golden crescent above its conical cap.

The arasta or market street of Sultanahmet was to provide income for the mosque and its dependencies. It is the only example of its kind to have remained from the 17th century. It is composed of two facing rows of stores running northeast and southwest, with over thirty stores in each row. There is a portal at the northeast end through which a passage leads up to the qibla garden of the mosque, and a single row of nine stores beyond it that used to be double-story rental rooms. An additional five stores are located around the corner at the southwest end on Tavukhane Street, where the market baths (arasta hamami) are located.

There are two adjacent portals here, one of which may have belonged to a rental mansion; the other marks the location of the vaulted passage that leads up to the qibla garden. Since the market street was destroyed by fire in 1912 the area had been haphazardly rebuilt on multiple occasions up until the 1980s at which point the General Directorate of Foundations (Vakiflar Genel Müdürlügü) carried out a historical reconstruction of the stores. Traces of the domed rental rooms above stores were judged inadequate guides to a reconstruction, but were maintained as archaeological evidence. The Mosaic Museum, established in 1953 and re-opened as the Great Palace Mosaic Museum in 1997, occupies 16 rooms of the market street.

The madrasa, mausoleum and a funerary garden are accessed from a private lane that is entered from the mosque precinct. They are isolated from the outside by walls that closely follow the outline of the two buildings. The mausoleum, located on the north side of the lane, is a large square building set in a garden and entered from a three-bay domed portico to the northeast.

Elevated from the surrounding grounds, the mosque courtyard is entered through three portals with cascading steps. The main entrance is to the northwest in axis with the central gate on Sultanahmet Square. It is deep and has a stalactite semi-dome. Inside, a domed arcade frames the court on three sides and the mosque portico - with arches slightly wider and taller than those of the arcade - completes the gallery on the fourth side. The two side entrances are found on either end of the domed portico. At the center of the courtyard, in axis with the main entrance, is a hexagonal fountain. It is crowned by a pent roof raised on elaborately carved arches that spring from six marble columns; this roof has recently been replaced by a small dome.

The columns of the arcade and the portico are also carved from marble as well as porphyry, and the floor is paved with marble tiles. The courtyard has two rows of superimposed windows - rectangular below and arched above - that are placed at regular intervals on all three façades, which are topped with a marble balustrade. A double-story gallery runs along the court on the exterior, with ablution spigots provided at its basement level. This narrow gallery, which has a slanted roof at the level of the upper court windows, is continued at a grander scale and flanks the prayer hall on either side where it is roofed with domes and barrel vaults, interrupted only by the projecting piers.

The prayer hall's main entrance is from the courtyard and there are two secondary side entrances. The main entrance is highlighted by the raised central portico dome, which bears a marble Quranic panel on its tall drum. Set in a niche with a stalactite semi-dome, the entry has a triptych foundation plaque. The prayer hall is a rectangle, slightly wider than it is long. Inside, it is spacious and open, with a focus around the tall central dome. The dome sits on pendentives carried on four colossal piers or "elephant feet" that delineate the central court. Beyond the court, the space is extended by use of semi-domes and buttresses that transfer the lateral loads to piers set inside the walls.

The central dome is surrounded by four semi-domes below its drum, which are wrapped by smaller semi-domes - three on all sides except for the qibla wall. The semi-domes are braced with buttresses on either side that are articulated with hipped roofs and domed turrets. This structural arrangement provides for a spacious and open interior and creates an effect of cascading domes on the exterior. The composition ends at the four corners where small single domes complete the pyramidal succession.

The flow of space on the interior is uninterrupted except for a few functional elements. There is a muezzin's platform elevated on columns in front of the southern pier, which has geometric patterns carved in its marble balustrade. An elaborately decorated wooden pulpit is set adjacent to the opposite pier. The royal lodge (hünkar mahfili), a screened platform raised on arches carried on precious marble columns, is located behind this pier and occupies the bay underneath the eastern corner dome.

It is accessed from inside the mosque, as well as from the royal kiosk outside. An arcade, with balustrades at the balcony level, follows the entire length of the interior walls with the exception of the qibla wall. It is broken up into segments by the projecting structural piers and the supporting piers of the smaller semi-domes, which replace the arcade columns on their way down.

The small domed building behind the mausoleum is a dar'ül kurra, or a school for training Koran readers. It is built close to the mausoleum eyvan into which it opens with a large window. A room for the timekeeper of the mosque (muvakkithane) was added to the front of the mausoleum in the 18th or 19th century, replacing a sebil. There is a walled-in cemetery (hazire) between the dar'ül kurra and the mosque precinct. There were six adjoining stores on the Hippodrome side of the cemetery, which appear as two-story wooden buildings with domes in 19th century photographs.

The hospice (tabhane), soup kitchen (imaret), hospital (darüşşifa) were erected one behind the other over the sphendone (the semi-circular end of the hippodrome) to the southwest of the mosque. At this end, the hippodrome is a terrace supported by a deep circular wall of vaults and arches that retain the hill towards the Marmara Sea. The retaining wall has maintained its function and is still visible today.

The charity cluster of Sultan Ahmed I, however, was already in ruins by the time the School of Industry (Mekteb-i Sanayi) was erected at this location in 1866. Sections of the hospital, the soup kitchen and possibly a former Sword Factory (Kiliçhane) that had existed here in some form since Byzantine times, were incorporated into the campus. The buildings that occupy the site today are from 1894 and were built by Architect Raimondo D'Aronco after the original school collapsed in an earthquake.

Along with the School of Industry, three separate buildings originally housed the Janissary Museum (Yeniçeri Müzesi), the Ministry of Agriculture, Mining and Forestry (Ziraat, Maadin ve Orman Nezareti) and the School of Industry. The remains of the hospital and soup kitchen were restored and incorporated into the new development. Restored in 1977, the buildings are in use by the Registrar of Marmara University (Marmara Üniversitesi Rektörlüğü) and the Sultanahmet School of Industrial Arts (Sultanahmet Endüstri Meslek Lisesi).

The Blue Mosque with all six minarets visibleThe Sultan Ahmed Mosque is one of the two mosques in Turkey that has six minarets, the other is in Adana. When the number of minarets was revealed, the Sultan was criticized for presumption, since this was, at the time, the same number as at the mosque of the Ka'aba in Mecca. He overcame this problem by paying for a seventh minaret at the Mecca mosque. Four minarets stand at the corners of the mosque. Each of these fluted, pencil-shaped minarets has three balconies (Şerefe) with stalactite corbels, while the two others at the end of the forecourt only have two balconies.

Until recently the muezzin or prayer-caller had to climb a narrow spiral staircase five times a day to announce the call to prayer. Today a public address system is used, and the call can be heard across the old part of the city, echoed by other mosques in the vicinity. Large crowds of both Turks and tourists gather at sunset in the park facing the mosque to hear the call to evening prayers, as the sun sets and the mosque is brilliantly illuminated by coloured floodlights.

Hünkar Kasrı
There is a royal kiosk (hünkar kasri) to the southeast of the mosque, which was rebuilt recently following destruction by fire. It features, for the first time in Ottoman architecture, the entry ramp, which allowed the sultan to enter the lodge mounted on his horse. The ramp leads up to a loggia with a view over the Bosphorus, with two retiring rooms on one side and a connection to the royal lodge inside the mosque on the other. Today, the royal kiosk is home to the Carpet and Kilim Museum (Hali ve Kilim Müzesi) that displays historic samples from mosques around Anatolia.

Madrasa (School)
The madrasa stands on the opposite side of the lane from the mausoleum and the walled-in cemetery. It is composed of twenty-four rooms around a rectangular arcaded courtyard with a fountain at the center. The main entrance, in axis with the fountain, is located at the center of the northwestern wing. Traces of columns around the fountain suggest that it may have been roofed. The madrasa rooms have windows opening to the courtyard and the exterior and are equipped with fireplaces (ocak) and shelving niches.

The main classroom (dersane) is atypically annexed at the northern corner of the cloister rather than on its longitudinal axis. Madrasa functions were discontinued with the education reform law (Tevhid-i Tedrisat Kanunu) in 1924. The building was restored in 1935 and the courtyard was covered with a glass roof to prepare for its new use as an archive for the Directorate of Public Affairs.

The hospital of the Sultanahmet Complex is often identified as an insane asylum (timarhane) and was probably dedicated to that purpose. Located at the western end of its cluster closest to the circular retaining wall, the hospital consisted of rooms around an arcaded courtyard and adjoining baths (darüssifa hamami). Its rooms and portico had collapsed prior to the construction of the School of Industry but its external walls and main portal, which faced northeast, have been preserved. Certain columns and capitals belonging to its portico have been used at the entrance of the school building.

There are three separate structures of the soup kitchen that are identifiable upon entering the School of Industrial Arts from Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Highway. The kitchens (matbah or mutfak) have been preserved entirely whereas the bakery (firin) and the cellar (kiler) have been modified. The kitchens were entered from northeast and southwest and had a vaulted storage room and a chimney. Their twin domes had ventilation slits along the drum and oculi with glass lantern for further aeration.

The bakery, which opens to the southwest towards the kitchen, is a square building with four domes. Its ovens have been enclosed and only one of its chimneys remains. The cellar is the largest structure in the soup kitchen and is located to the west towards the hospital. There is no trace of the dining hall (mekel or yemekhane).

The Koranic school and other buildings
The Koranic school, a single room raised on a vaulted basement, is attached to the northeast wall of the outer courtyard next to a gate. It has a fireplace, shelving niches and a small toilet. It has a flat roof but may have been covered with a dome prior to rebuilding after the 1912 fire. The northeast façade has some of the original stone paneling.

Turkish Bath (Hamam)
The baths were also damaged in the fire of 1912, at which time the changing room collapsed. It was spared from destruction during the Great Palace Excavation and remains in ruinous condition. It has a changing room leading into an L-shaped warm room (iliklik) that wraps around the hot room, and a furnace (külhan) that supplied the hot water. The hot room can be entered from either wing of the warm room and consists of a hexagonal bathing area at the center surrounded by private bathing cells (halvet) that square off the room. It has lost its dome and marble fixtures.

The tomb of Sultan Ahmet I the türbe (tomb) of the Blue Mosque’s great patron, is on the north side of the mosque facing Sultanahmet Park. Ahmet, who had ascended to the imperial throne aged 13, died one year after the mosque was constructed, aged only 27. Buried with Ahmet are his wife, Kösem, who was strangled to death in the Topkapı Harem, and his sons, Sultan Osman II (r 1618-22), Sultan Murat IV (r 1623-40) and Prince Beyazıt (murdered by Murat).

The tomb is decorated with 7th century Iznik tiles and plaster work in a square plan. The tomb of Sultan Ahmed I commenced by Sultan Mustafa I and was finished by Sultan Osman II (Osman the Young) It took 3 years and was completed in the year 1619. The architect was Sedefkar Mehmed Ağa who had also built the Sultanahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque) complex. This hall is extended with an eyvan opposite the entry. The interior is decorated with Kütahya tiles, penwork (kalemisi) and painting on plasterwork (malakari) that was restored in the 19th century. The exterior is paneled with marble.

The tomb of Sultan Ahmet I is located to the north of Sultanahmet Mosque (Known as Blue Mosque). Ahmet I was born in 1590 and became sultan when he was only 14. He was the one who rejected and stopped the tradition of killing siblings for the unity of the country which started with Beyezid and even became a law during the time of Fatih. He also commanded that the throne should be ascended by the eldest one in the dynasty. In 1617 Sultan Ahmed I died and was buried in his tomb.

Sultan Ahmet Tomb has a square plan and is covered with a dome that is supported by a polygon drum. The arcade after the entrance is covered with three domes. The inside of the tomb is decorated with rich tiles, pen and wood crafts. Above the tile panels, there is an epigraph surrounding the structure written with white calligraphy over dark blue background. In the tomb, also buried Kösem Sultan (Mahpeyker Sultan, wife of Sultan Ahmed I), their sons Sultan Murad IV and Sultan Osman II, their daughter Ayşe Sultan in addition to about forty other members of the dynasty .

Located on the north west corner of the of Sultan Ahmed Mosque (The Blue Mosque) complex.


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Wednesday, August 22, 2018


Tophane, Beyoğlu - İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°01'39.0"N 28°58'59.0"E / 41.027500, 28.983056


Nusretiye Mosque is an ornate mosque located in Tophane district of Beyoğlu, Istanbul, Turkey. While its architecture is influenced by Islamic elements, it retains a Baroque style, making it unique to the city. The Nusretiye Mosque was erected between 1823 and 1826 by Sultan Mahmud II (1784-1839) as part of a larger project to rebuild the Tophane artillery barracks that burnt in the Firuzağa fire.

It is located off the Western shore of the Bosphorus, below Tophane or the Canon Foundry established by Sultan Mehmed II (1432-1481) and was built on the former site of the Mosque of the Artillery Barracks (Tophane-i Amire Arabacılar Kışlası Camii) built by Sultan  Selim III (1789-1807).

In style, the mosque signifies a transition from Ottoman baroque to empire style. Its architect is Krikor Balyan (1764-1831), who is the first in nine architects belonging to the Armenian Balyan family who served the royal family throughout the nineteenth century. The mosque was named Nusretiye or Victory, in celebration of the sultan's recent abolition of the rebellious janissary troops in favor of a new western-style army - an event known in Ottoman history as Vaka-i Hayriye or the auspicious event.

When it was built, the Nusretiye mosque stood to the northeast of a rectangular parade ground facing the Bosphorus with the Meclis-i Mebusan or Parliament Street at its back. The artillery barracks, built by Sultan Mahmud II at the same time as the mosque, bound the southwest side of the parade ground. His successor, Sultan Abdülmecid I (1839-1861), added a clock tower (Tophane saat kulesi) at the center of the grounds and built the royal Tophane kiosk (Tophane Kasri) at the street end of the longitudinal axis.

In 1866, the neo-classical strip housing the offices of the marshals was built on the other side of Meclis-i Mebusan Street from the Tophane kiosk and the fenced parade ground, completing the monumental appearance of the military complex seen in older photographs. Only the mosque, the clock tower and the Tophane kiosk have survived the mid 1950s urban renewal and highway construction programs.

The parade ground was developed into a trade entrepôt with concrete warehouses extending into newly infilled grounds behind the mosque. The mosque stands today on Necati Bey Street, having lost its historical context and connection with the water. It was restored between 1955 and 1958, and again in 1980 and 1992.

The mosque stands raised on a tall basement, oriented along the northwest-southeast axis. It consists of a square prayer hall with narthex and mihrab apse, and a large sultan's kiosk, which wraps the west and north corners at the front, on either side of the tall portico. Side arcades made of five domed bays flank the prayer hall on the exterior. Although the mosque lacks a monumental courtyard, a prominent feature in classical Ottoman mosques, it has a small side courtyard that adjoins the prayer hall to the northeast.

The side arcade on this side is a few steps below the courtyard whereas to the southwest the arcade has two-stories and has a door at the lower colonnade that leads down to the basement level. The mosque portal is located at the center of the three-bay portico, a monumental baroque entrance with two staircases leading up to its terrace. The staircases are framed on either side by the projecting bays of the sultan's kiosk, which is raised to the height of the portico domes carried on arches and columns, forming open terraces below.

The residential-looking sultan's kiosk dominates the front façade of the mosque and zigzags around the corners where the minarets are attached to form wings projecting outwards into the parade ground and the side courtyard. It is entered primarily from a baroque portal adjoining the side arcade on the southwest façade; there are secondary entrances on either side of the portico.

Inside, the prayer hall is crowned with a single dome, raised on four grand arches that spring from the four corners. The narthex to the northwest has women's prayer section flanking the entrance and the muezzin's platform at the gallery level. The grand arch above the narthex is carried on two piers and three arches, the larger central arch mirrors the arch of the mihrab semi-dome across the hall.

Along the southwest wall, to the right, is the sultan's lodge - a balcony with gilt screens entered from the sultan's kiosk. Windows pierced into the tympana of the grand arches and twenty windows around the dome illuminate the interior from above. Of the two tiers of windows at the ground level, the lower casements are crowned with baroque vases carved in the marble tympana of the window arches.

All of the upper windows have faux frames painted in the baroque style. The mihrab and minbar are carved of white marble and decorated with flowers and gilt garlands. Perhaps the most important decorative element on the interior is a calligraphic band inscribed with the Koranic sura of The Event or Al-Naba, which travels the interior located above the casement windows. It is written in gold celi style letters over a dark background by the famous calligrapher Mustafa Rakım (1757-1826).

There is obtrusive structure on both sides of the entrance of the mosque called the Hünkar Kasrı (royal residence). It is situated on marble columns with a round arch. It also has an entrance from its rooms to the last prayer section of the mosque and to the outer side porch. The Sultan's entrance is located on the southern facade with a view of the sea. Crowning the aesthetics of the building are the walls of the royal residence which are decorated with a colourful plant motif  as well as with calligraphy on its arched-door.

One enters into the harim (sanctum sanctorum) of the Nusretiye Mosque through a palatial baroque style door measuring 4 x 2.10 m. The harim is built on a square plan measuring 7.50 x 7.50 m and has a ceiling of 33 m covered with a pendant dome. There are windows decorated with calligraphy built into the tympana of the grand arches as well as twenty windows around the dome which illuminate the interior from above. The niche of the mihrab is plain when compared to the other elements of the mosque.

There are two windows on both sides of the niche of the mihrab, and the mihrab is covered with a half dome which, when viewed from the inside of the mosque, appears as a circle. Additionally, the Nusretiye Mosque showcases the last example of classical Ottoman window arrangement and architecture with its facade including four levels of window rows and marble wall panels ascending to the same level as the window gaps of the second row.

The mosque has two minarets located at the west and east corners. Raised on tall square foundations, the fluted minaret shafts have bulbous bases and double balconies with wavy balustrades. In order to create a view for passing ships to read the string of lights with devotional messages (mahya) hung between the two minarets without being obstructed by the dome, the minarets were taken down and rebuilt taller in 1826.

The Nusretiye Mosque, both with the site on which it was built and its architectural details, showcases an example of mosque architecture definitely worth seeing. To the northeast, the entrance to the small side courtyard is flanked by twin structures of the sabil (sebil), on the right, and the room of the timekeeper (muvakkithane), on the left.

The superstructure, including the dome, is marked with exuberant architectural decorations. Curved pilasters with finials alternate with the dome windows and large bulbous weight turrets with pointed domes that are placed at the springing of the grand arches, which are bordered with lace-like cornices. The mosque is constructed primarily of cut stone.

Positioned originally across the street, they were moved adjacent to the mosque during the rule of Sultan Abdülaziz I (1861-1879). They are round with arched grille windows facing the street and are crowned by conical domes with wavy eaves mirrored by wavy marble cornices with inscriptive plaques. A fountain kiosk erected beside the mosque by Sultan Abdülhamid II in 1901 has been moved to Maçka neighborhood as part of the urban renewal program.

The mosque was broadly restored between the years of 1955 and 1958,  and partially again between 1980 and 1992.


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Muratpaşa, Fatih - İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'37.5"N 28°56'56.4"E / 41.010417, 28.949000


Murat Paşa Mosque is located in the Aksaray district of Istanbul. Murat Paşa Mosque is the largest complex in the city donated by a vizier. Close to the Aksaray footbridge, the Murat Pasha Mosque, according to the dates of  1469 - 1471 inscription, is one of the oldest mosques in the city. Since it was built only twenty years after the conquest of the city. Its founder was Has Murat Paşa, the vizier during the rule of Sultan Mehmed II.

Has Murat Pasha, a member of the Palaiologos dynasty, became one of the most important viziers of Sultan Mehmet II. After Murat Pasha died during the Otlukbeli war in 1469, his brother Vizier Mesih Pasha completed the mosque in 1473.

The design belongs to the Bursa style, with a central prayer hall covered with two identical sized domes. The concept of centralized space dominated by the main dome will be accepted much later during the classical style. The most interesting decorative-functional parts of the mosque are the stalactite decorations on the dome. The height of the dome  is 21 meters while the diameter is 10.5 meters. External walls were made of stone and brick.

A long rectangular room divided by an arch into two squares each covered by a dome, with two small side-chambers to north and south forming a tabhane for travellers. Of the two large domes, the eastern one rests on pendentives with bold and deeply cut stalactites, but the western one has that curious arrangement of triangles which we have seen on the smaller domes at Mahmut Paşa.

The porch has five domed bays with six very handsome ancient columns: two of Syenitic granite, four of verd antique. The capitals are of three different kinds, arranged symmetrically, two types of stalactites and the lozenge capital. The construction of the building is in courses of brick and stone. The pious foundation originally included a medrese and a large double hamam; but these have unfortunately perished in the widening of the adjacent streets.

The founder, Murat Paşa, was a convert from the imperial family of the Palaeologues; he became a vezir of Fatih and died in battle as a relatively young man. The date of construction of his mosque is given in an intricate inscription in Arabic over the main door – A.H. 874 (A.D. 1469) – later than Mahmut Paşa Camii by only seven years. The calligraphy in this inscription is exceptionally beautiful and is probably by Ali Sofi, who did the fine inscription over the Imperial Gate to the Saray.

Damaged by the lightning strike in 1640, the mosque was restored for the last time in 1946. The shadirvan (water-tank with a fountain) on the northern side was built by Kara Davut Pasha in the 17th century.

The madrasah was built between 1477 and 1478, and was ruined in 1935. The tabhane was protected while the bath, whose usage was intermittent, (Aksaray Bath) was removed during the construction of Vatan Street between 1957 and 1958.


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Aksaray Square, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'37.0"N 28°57'10.0"E / 41.010278, 28.952778


The Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque, also known as the Aksaray Valide Mosque (Turkish: Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Camii, Aksaray Valide Sultan Camii), is an Ottoman imperial mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. It is located at the intersection of Ordu Street and Atatürk Boulevard in the Aksaray neighborhood. It is located next to Pertevniyal High School (Turkish: Pertevniyal Lisesi) which was also built by the order of Sultana Pertevniyal in 1872.

One of the last mosques built in Istanbul during the Ottoman Empire, the Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque was built for the Sultana Pertevniyal, wife of Sultan Mahmud II and mother of Sultan Abdülaziz. It was designed by the Italian architect Montani. The construction work began in November 1869, and the mosque was finished in 1871.

The complex, which comprises several buildings around a central mosque (külliye), was commissioned by Pertevniyal Valide Sultan and consists of a mosque, a tomb, a sabil, a public fountain, a clock-room where timepieces for calculating prayer times accurately on a daily basis were kept, a library, and a theological school (madrasa). The mosque is a single-domed, square prayer hall, following the traditional plan. In front of its strongly vertical mass is an additional two-storey building that comprises the portico for latecomers, men's and women's areas, the sultan's loge and various rooms.

Attached to this additional building, separate from the main body of the mosque, are two minarets, each with a single balcony. The square prayer hall measures 10 m x 10 m and is extended with arches on four sides. The mosque's east, west and south façades are all emphasised with turrets and the outward projections of their central sections are each crowned with a triangular pediment. Each section has two rows of three windows. The dome, separated from the walls and brought inward, is supported on a high, 12-sided drum.

The Valide Mosque is located on the north-west side of Aksaray Square in Fatih. The Valide Mosque stands at the very beginning of the Atatürk Boulevard, at the crossroads of the Aksaray Square. It was built at the behest of Sultan Abdülaziz's (1861-1876) mother, Pertevniyal Valide Sultan, between 1869-1871 and was designed by the architect, Sarkis Balyan. It is also known that Agop Balyan made a contribution to the project. It is claimed by some sources that the architecture of the mosque was Montani, an Italian architect.

There had previously stood a mosque named Hacı Mustafa Ağa located on the former site of the Valide Mosque. The present-day Valide Mosque was built on the ruins of that mosque. It was mainly designed as a complex which including a muvakkithane (a time keeping room), a fountain, a tomb and Sıbyan Mektebi (an Ottoman elementary-primary school). The mosque is composed of two sections: the last prayer section and the Harim (sanctum sanctorum). The size of the Harim is 10 x 10 m, and the ceiling structure is composed of a dome.

The Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque is noteworthy for the density and variety of its decoration. The projecting central sections of the façades and the windows on the drum of the dome are executed in the Gothic style. The design of triple blind niches above the windows, for instance, borrow elements from Ottoman decorative art, while their location recalls examples from North African and Andalusian architecture.

The blind niches, as well as the decorative compositions of arabesques and palmettes on the façades, are, like the muqarnas, elements borrowed from Classical Ottoman art. The corner turrets, each of which terminates in a lobed onion-dome reminiscent of Indian architecture, are decorated with niches containing muqarnas, again borrowed from Classical Ottoman architecture, as well as the simple blind niches and various geometric motifs.

The Neo-Gothic style of the Valide Mosque differentiates it architecturally from the more classic mosques. The single dome is quite high, but small. The mosque's main body and front are different from any other mosques built up to that period. The neo-gothic embellishments, in particular, reinforce the mosque's unique beauty. The interior of the mosque also boasts an array of rich and beautiful embellishments. The interior is fully decorated with-blue inscriptions and engravings shining with gold gilding. The mosque has two minarets and a single gallery.

Among the historical mosques of Istanbul, its ornaments and decorations have been more extensively used than others. The western impact on the architectural design during the period, combined with 16th-17th century decoration techniques, have been blended together in the mosque. Additionally, the decorations still shine with a gleaming, blue color, and its engraved ornaments have become prominent elements within the architectural aesthetic. Both the inner and outer sides of the mosque’s walls are marble panels decorated with motifs and calligraphies depicting selected verses from the Qur’an.

The interior space, like the façades, is densely decorated. Ottoman motifs are used in painted decoration (kalemişi) in which blue dominates. A cornice with muqarnas surrounds the upper section of the lower row of windows. On the surfaces of the walls, as on the façades, classical Ottoman elements are found including blind niches, muqarnas, arch motifs, arabesques, and Chinese-inspired floral ornament. The marble mihrab and minbar are plain.

The door of the courtyard, which looks out onto Aksaray Square, is strikingly different from other mosques of İstanbul  The door frame is one of the rare and unique examples of the art of stone engraving. The stone workmanship on the court door opening toward the Aksaray Square is the pinnacle of success of Ottoman stone workmanship.

The mosque is actually part of a complex made up of a school, tomb, clock room and public fountain. During the reorganization of Aksaray Square in 1956-1959 the other parts of the complex were either destroyed or, as in the case of the public fountain, moved elsewhere. Due to the renovation of the underpass and of the upper roads as well as to the increasing of the overall height of the road, the mosque appears to be burried underground today.

Wood Carving And Inlays
The ancient Turkish art of wood carving makes use of a variety of different design techniques on traditional forms such as columns, doors, window covers, chests, stools, and Quran covers. By the seventeenth century, inlays of ivory, bone, mother-of-pearl and other semi-precious stones were applied as inlays for carved wood pieces.

Perhaps the most ubiquitous use of mother-of-pearl inlays in Turkey are to be found in palace furniture and architecture. The most magnificent sites for such incomparable work are the Topkapı Palace, the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, the Tomb of Murad III, the Beylerbeyi Palace and the Blue Mosque.

Stone Carving
Frequently used on the walls of buildings, mosques, minarets, gates, columns, pools and tombstones as a decorative feature, stone carvings added strenght and durability to structures in addition to its aesthetic function. Although almost all kinds of stones were used for carving and art work, marble and sandstone traditionally have been the most frequently used stone for this purpose.


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Monday, August 20, 2018


Fındıklı, Beyoğlu - İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°01'56.3"N 28°59'26.1"E / 41.032306, 28.990583


Kazasker Mehmed Vusuli Efendi, the Chief Judge of Istanbul, ordered its construction by Architect Sinan on Meclisi Mebusan Street, in the Fındıklı district of Beyoğlu county. It is said that it was built between 1561 - 1562. However, the precise date of the mosque’s construction is unknown, it is held that the mosque was established between the above mentioned dates.

The mosque is located in Istanbul in the Fındıklı district of Beyoğlu county in the Meclisi Mebusan Street, on the lower shores of the European Bosphorus, at Fındıklı. The Molla Çelebi mosque, also known as Fındıklı Camii, as viewed from the waterside, near the Kabataş funicular and ferry stations, looks very elegant and impressive, particularly under the reflection of the evening sun over the Bosphorus Straits.

Over centuries, it was damaged by a number of fires, natural disasters, and the 1950’s road construction campaigns. In spite of everything, the building still displays the details of the architecture of Sinan’s period. The portico was damaged and replaced with a wooden porch structure in the 18th century.

During the 1957 restoration, following the road construction, this section was replaced with a five-dome wooden structure portico, based on its 16th century original form. The Molla Çelebi Bath House was destroyed during the same year in 1957. The minaret, which was damaged during the 1999 earthquake, has since been rebuilt.

When it was brought together with the Sıbyan mektebi (Ottoman elementary-primary school) and bath, which have not reached our time, the Molla Çelebi Mosque, said to have been designed as a small complex, is a hexagonal mosque designed by the architect Sinan.

In addition, ten windows, which were placed on the lower part of  the dome, and window gaps, placed in two vertical ranks on the wall window’s sides made of limestone (küfeki taşı) blocks, illuminate the mosque.

The minbar (pulpit) is decorated with polychrome wall paintings (kalem işi) and the decorative mihrab (niche) is in the same style of the Classical Architectural tradition which is visible throughout the structure. Furthermore, the thin minaret with its single sherefe (minaret balcony) rises from the right corner of the arcaded entrance which is covered by four domes overlooking the street.

The mosque was initially built as a small complex, with a hexagonal plan designed by the architect Mimar Sinan. Principally, the mosque was built in two sections, the central prayer hall of size of 18.90 x 16.40 m, and the mihrab yeri (chancel) of size of 8.80 x 4.60 m. The pillars are built into the walls and between the pillars there are four small semicircular domes in the east-west direction and the central dome, which is the central prayer section.

This section is also covered by semicircular dome of 11.8 m diameter and covered with six arches built between the six embedded columns; the rectangular apse in which the mihrab is built projects out. In addition there are ten windows, placed above the lower part of the dome. The window gaps, placed in two vertical. The wall window’s sides made of limestone (küfeki taşı) blocks, illuminate the mosque.

The mosque structure is built entirely in the Classical Ottoman Architectural tradition. The minbar or the pulpit in the mosque, is a unique special feature from where the imam addresses prayer meetings, which is embellished with kalem işi, polychrome wall paintings. The mihrab (niche) is also embellished in the same style as the minbar. There is a slim minaret built at the arcaded entrance, which has four domes.

The mosque facing the street, has the minaret to its the right corner. The minaret has a sherefe (minaret balcony). The extensions on the sides are covered by semi domes as it provides better continuity for both the cover system and the interior. the mihrab is for the first time is located in an apse that projects from the middle portion of the qibla wall. This interior layout design compensates for the lack of depth on the north-south axis.

Over centuries, it was damaged by a number of fires, natural disasters, and the 1950’s road construction campaigns. In spite of everything, the building still displays the details of the architecture of Sinan’s period. The portico was damaged and replaced with a wooden porch structure in the 18th century. During the 1957 restoration, following the road construction, this section was replaced with a five-dome wooden structure portico, based on its 16th century original form.


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Üsküdar - İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°01'22.3"N 29°00'44.2"E / 41.022861, 29.012278


It is a little bit further than Rum Mehmet Pasha Mosque and gives its name to the quarter. The mosque, originally built here by Hamza Fakih in 1499. It was enlarged in 1630 and was renovated in 1720 by Kaymakçı Mustafa Paşa, who was later killed in the Patrona Halil Uprising.

The interior is decorated with enameled tiles and ornaments that are among the best examples of the 18th century. It is said that they were made in the Tekfur Palace near Edirnekapı. Before the fire the mosque had been completely covered by enameled tiles, which now only reach the lower windows.

The mosque was partially burnt in 1890 and restored by Şerife Nesife Hanım, the daughter of Helvacı. Since it collapsed during the big earthquake in 1888, it was rebuilt.

It was built of cut stone. The ascent to the minaret on the right is made of wood. It is understood from the plate on its door prepared by poet Refet, the founders are philanthropic Hamza Fakih and Kaymak Mustafa Pasha. Although it was built during Sultan Ahmet III's era, the traditions of Architect Sinan were followed.


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Eminönü, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°01'04.0"N 28°58'08.0"E / 41.017778, 28.968889



The Rüstem Pasha Mosque is an Ottoman mosque located in Hasırcılar Çarşısı (Strawmat Weavers Market), Uzunçarşı Caddesi, Tahtakale in Eminönü, Istanbul. Located on the Eminönü Square, the mosque is easily accessible from any location. At Eminönü, keeping the Süleymaniye Mosque and Complex in view, this mosque will be to your right.

It is one of the most important structures making up Istanbul 's skyline. Situated on a high platform with a commanding view of the city, the mosque was built on the former site of Hacı Halil Mescid. The location of the mosque is one of the busiest in the city and has been since Roman times. Prime Minister Rüstem Paşa, one of the leading state officials and proponents of construction, also had a role in the building of Süleymaniye Camii. He was the husband of Süleyman, the Magnificent's daughter, Hürrem Sultan and was known for the buildings he had constructed throughout the Empire.

To the west of the mosque is a cemetery, and a square was later added behind its qibla wall. As indicated by a four-line inscription, the mosque was commissioned by the Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasa, son-in-law of Suleyman the Magnificent, and was built by Mimar Sinan in 1561. However, scholars claim that, considering the Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasa's death date, it is probable that the mosque was ordered by his widow in his memory and completed later.

It was constructed in the place of a Byzantine church converted into a mosque in the fifteenth century by Haci Halil Aga. The mosque constitutes the third in a series of edifices designed by Sinan at the request of the Grand Vizier, following the Rüstem Pasha Madrasa in 1550 and the Rüstem Pasha Mosque in Tekirdag in 1553.

This is one of Sinan’s best known works, due to the Iznik tiles, unparalleled in magnificence, that cover the whole interior space as well as its structural design features. The richness and variety of the tiles recreate a 16th century tile museum with a glowing effect in all colors. The transition Sinan was able to achieve between the congested and chaotic streets of Tahtakale and the contrasting light quality in this interior space, decorated with tiles, is an extraordinary architectural experience.

The mosque has been repaired several times after earthquake damage through centuries, and as a result, the roof structure is no longer original. However, the mosque’s architectural design in an urban setting, with its tiles and its masonry details, reveals the luminous 16th century ambience to the beholder.

This is the mosque with a central dome and a single minaret that arises amidst the rows of shops and storehouses near the Spice Bazaar. It creates a beautiful sight in the busiest commercial center in the city, together with the Süleymaniye Mosque on the slope behind. The architect Sinan built the mosque in 1561 for the Grand Vizier Rüstem Paşa. Spiraling staircases go up to the structure that is set above a row of shops. The interesting courtyard is actually a small terrace covered by five small domes.

The central dome rises atop four wall pillars and four columns, two on each side. Over the corners of the square space are four semidomes supporting the main dome. There are galleries behind the columns on the sides. The facade and the small, but attractive interior are decorated with the finest examples of Iznik tiles. The geometrical and leaf and flower motifs on the tiles give the interior a colorful flower garden appearance. The embossed coral-red color was used only for a short time in the 16th century.

The central main dome is supported by four half-domes. The base of the dome contains 74 windows, and its arches are supported by octagonal elephant feet. The mosque niche and pulpit are made of marble. The area designated for late-arriving worshippers has six pillars and five domes. The minaret, with its single gallery, replaces the original, which was torn down.

It was designed by Mimar Sinan "Sinan the Architect" for Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasha (who married one of the daughters of Süleyman the Magnificent, Princess Mihrimah). Its building took place from 1561 to 1563. The mosque was completed by Hürrem Sultan after the death of her husband, Prime Minister Rüstem Paşa. The mosque was damaged in the Great Fire of 1660 and the earthquake of 1776 in both instances, the damage was immediately repaired.

Nineteenth-century Baroque frescoes, layered over the surfaces of the four semi-domes on the sides of the octaglon, were removed during a 1960-1961 restoration organized by the religious foundation. The Rüstem Pasa Mosque was most recently restored between 1964-1969, and now functions as a mosque and monument.

The interior of the mosque, and a part of the exterior northwestern elevation of the prayer hall, are clad with colored Iznik tile panels decorated with floral arabesques. Red and white stones form the arches supporting the central dome and the slightly pointed arch that crowns the wooden doorway of the main entrance. The roofs of the side wings are decorated with wooden colored reliefs organized into geometric patterns. Floral frescoes decorate the center of each dome, while Thuluth inscription plaques are placed above the doorways, and medallions with Arabic inscriptions are situated between the arches of the external portico and on the squinches.

The mosque is famous for its exquisite Iznik tiles, set in beautiful floral and geometric designs, which cover not only the facade of the porch but also the mihrab, minbar, walls, and columns. The plan of the mosque consists of an octagon inscribed in a rectangle. The dome rests on four semi-domes; not on the axes but in the diagonals of the building. The arches of the dome spring from four octagonal pillars - two on the north, two on the south - and from piers projecting from the east and west walls. To the north and south are galleries supported by pillars and by small marble columns between them.

A portion of these valuable tiles have been stolen. The interior of the mosque, apart from the dome, is covered with coloured İznik tiles which are the best examples from a technical and design perspective. All the classic motifs can be found on the tiles, including fruit and flower forms. Other than dazzling tiles, the coloured porphyry marble is worth seeing.

Oriented along the north-east axis, the mosque is elevated on the plateau of a vaulted substructure containing the marketplace. It consists of an octagonal basic structure inscribed into a rectangular prayer hall flanked by two wings. The mosque is covered with a central dome elevated to a cylindrical drum, while a five-dome portico adjacent to the northeastern elevation is adjoined by a second exterior portico with a pitched roof.

A cylindrical minaret emerges from the western corner of the prayer hall. Four staircases, enclosed in an equal number of vestibules, offer access to the elevated plateau of the mosque. Two of them adjoin the northwestern part of the substructure's northeastern and the southwestern sides and the rest are incorporated within the southeastern corners of the marketplace. The main entrance to the mosque is located in the center of the northeastern elevation of the mosque.

The marketplace consists of a cross-vaulted warehouse occupying the ground floor of the main edifice of the mosque. Two slender barrel-vaulted stores correspond to the upper floor's double porticos, and a series of vaulted shops align to the northwest of the two stores, with a fountain in the center. The Rüstem Pasa Mosque rises on the terrace of the substructure, thus constituting the second storey of the complex.

A pitched-roof wooden portico with slightly pointed arches partially occupies the northeastern and the southwestern elevations of the mosque and adjoins the northwestern side of the five-dome portico with arches supported by columns with muqarnas capitals. Accessed by a main entrance placed on the middle of the northwestern façade of the portico, the prayer hall is covered by a central dome flanked by double-height wings, which are cloister-vaulted on the northeast and barrel-vaulted on the southwest.

The dimensions of the prayer hall are approximately 26.8 by 19.6 meters, with the qibla wall along the longer side. The central dome, with a diameter of 15.2 meters and a height of approximately 22.8 meters, is raised on a cylindrical drum on an octagonal base. This base is supported by eight octagonal pillars placed on the corners of the octagon; four of them partially buried inside the walls, and four of them are free-standing, tied by semi-circular arches.

Squinches intervene between the cylindrical drum and the octagonal base, transferring the load to the pillars through muqarnas pendetives. Four semi-domes are placed on the diagonals of the prayer hall. The mihrab is covered with a muqarnas semi-dome. The base of the minaret is embedded in the western corner of the prayer hall. The interior is lit by twenty-four apertures on the drum of the central dome, along with two series of rectangular openings on the walls of the first and second floor and the grille-covered openings located within the tympanums of the main arches.


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