Monday, August 6, 2018


Bayezıt Square, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'37.0"N 28°57'55.0"E / 41.010278, 28.965278


The Beyazid Camii was commissioned by Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II, and was the second large imperial mosque complex to be erected in Istanbul after the Conquest. As the earliest complex, the Fatih Mosque was subsequently destroyed by earthquakes and completely rebuilt in a different style, the Beyazidiye complex is thus of considerable historical and architectural significance.

The surrounding külliye complex (madrasah, primary school, imaret (public kitchen) and hammam), date from 1501 to 1506. The dome was partially rebuilt after an earthquake in 1509, and Mimar Sinan conducted further repairs in 1573-74. The minarets burned separately in 1683 and 1764. An inscription above the courtyard entrance suggests that repairs were also conducted in 1767.

The complex, which is scattered throughout Bayezıt Square, was built by Sultan Bayezid II and completed in the years 1500-1505. It was originally thought to have been designed by Architect Sinan Hayreddin or Architect Kemaleddin but later research suggests the architect may have been Yakubşah Bin Sultan. The complex is composed of a mosque, a kitchen, a primary school, a hospital, a medresse, a hamam, a soup kitchen for the poor and a caravanserai. It differs from the Faith centre before it, for the fact that it was not built symmetrically, but in a seemingly random style.

Bayezid Mosque is at the center of the complex. Its main dome is 16.78 meters in diameter and is supported by four pillars. The stone and wood craftmanship and stained glass are artistic masterpieces. The courtyard paving materials and pillars used for the reservoir for ablutions were reclaimed from Byzantine ruins and re-used. These pillars in particular demonstrate the quality of Byzantine workmanship.

This complex and its surrounding neighborhood and square, all named after Bayezid II, was built between 1501 and 1505 on the grounds of the Forum Theodosius (Forum Tauri), which was flanked by the Roman Capitol. Situated on a hilltop between the Mese (the main route of the historic peninsula) and the former site of the old Ottoman palace (Saray-i Atik), the complex consists of a mosque (cami), madrasa (medrese), soup-kitchen (imaret), Quranic school (mekteb), caravanserai (kervansaray), baths (hamam) and two tombs (türbe).

The design is often attributed to head-architect Mimar Hayreddin, while some scholars have proposed a major role for lesser-known Yakupsah bin Sultansah. It is the second large Ottoman complex built in Istanbul after Fatih, and the third complex built by Bayezid II (1481-1512) after Amasya and Edirne, and was operated with the income of Pirinç Han in Bursa and a han, bedesten and baths in Salonica.

The buildings of the complex are placed without any apparent order on the large site, with no traces of an outer precinct wall. The soup-kitchen, caravanserai, Quranic School and the tombs are clustered around the mosque to the west, while the madrasa and the baths are separated out, positioned about 120 and 250 meters to the west of the mosque respectively. The mosque dome was partially rebuilt after the 1509 earthquake, and Mimar Sinan conducted repairs in 1573-74.

The minarets were burnt separately in 1683 and 1764 and the dome was repaired again in 1754. An inscription above the northeast courtyard entrance suggests that repairs were also conducted in 1767. A restoration is currently under way at the mosque, while the madrasa, baths and Quranic school were restored at different dates to house library and museums.

Although the buildings have remained largely intact, changes in the layout of Beyazit Square throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have transformed their context. Old photographs show that the east end of the square was an informal extension of the market neighborhood beyond the mosque, with tree-shaded cafes around the main courtyard entrance.

The old Ottoman Palace to the northwest of the mosque was replaced with the large neo-classical campus of the Ministry of Defense in 1867, with a tree-lined road leading to its monumental gate passing between the mosque and the madrasa. The complex was cut off from the street when Yeniçeriler street was lowered in the mid 1950s, when the square was redesigned as a paved open plaza with multiple levels, and renamed Hürriyet (Liberty) Square.

The Mosque
The mosque is oriented along the northwest-southeast axis and is preceded by a courtyard to the northwest. Three monumental portals, facing northwest, southeast and southwest, lead into the square open courtyard, which is enveloped by the domed arcade and the mosque portico. The ablution fountain at the center of the courtyard was renovated with a roof during the rule of Murad IV (1623-1640). The courtyard arcade hosted an open bazaar each year during Ramadan until the 1920s.

The prayer hall is entered through a muqarnas portal from a portico. It is the same size as the mosque courtyard and consists of a domed central space extended with two semi-domes along the qibla axis and side arcades covered with four small domes. The central dome, which measures 16.80 meters in diameter at a height of fourty-four meters, is carried on four colossal piers that are woven into the colonnade separating the side arcades from the main space.

A sultan's lodge (hünkar mahfili) occupies the qibla end of the southwest arcade and is accessed primarily from the exterior. There is a müezzin's lodge (müezzin mahfili) adjoining the inner side of the western pier. The space is lit with twenty windows at the base of the dome and seven windows on each semi-dome, in addition to two tiers of windows on the walls.

Hospice wings designed to host wondering dervishes, a common feature of early Ottoman mosques, are also seen here adjoining the prayer hall at the end of the courtyard walls. Originally designed as four domed rooms surrounding a domed central hall with separate access from the square, the wings were integrated into the prayer hall sometime during the sixteenth century and now consist of three consecutive rooms separated by archways. A small domed structure was added to the end of the southwest wing in 1767 to house the library of Şeyhülislam Hacı Veliyüddin Efendi.

A cemetery with walls envelops three sides of the mosque, extending from the hospice wings to the main street. The side entrances into the mosque, which are located next to the hospice wings, are accessed through gates along the cemetery walls. Two minarets are attached at the outward ends of the hospice wings; the northeast minaret was rebuilt after an earthquake while the southwest minaret, restored in 1953-54, retains its original terracotta decoration.

The structure of the Bayezid mosque is considered a stepping stone between early Ottoman architecture and classical Ottoman architecture, characterized by a central dome held by semi-domes on all four sides. Although the mosque is constructed entirely of cut stone, colored stones and marbles appropriated from Byzantine ruins were used throughout the exterior and interior to highlight the architecture, such as red porphyry columns marking entrance bays along the courtyard arcade.

Muqarnas carvings embellish all capitals and portals, the mihrab niche and minaret balconies. The minbar, the sultan's lodge and the women's section, which is a balcony placed above the prayer hall entrance, exhibit the fine stone latticework of the period and the original wood carvings can be seen on doors and windowpanes.

Exterior Architecture
The mosque is oriented along the northwest-southeast axis with a courtyard to the northwest with an area almost equal to that of the mosque itself. the courtyard has monumental entrance portals on each side. The courtyard is a colonnaded peristyle, with twenty ancient columns of porphyry, verd antique and granite salvaged from churches and ancient ruins, roofed with 24 small domes, and with a pavement in polychrome marble.

The mosque itself is approximately 40 meters square, with a 17 meter diameter dome. The design is that of a central dome held by semi-domes on all four sides. The mosque is constructed entirely of cut stone appropriating colored stones and marbles appropriated from nearby Byzantine ruins.

Interior Architecture
The interior of the mosque is patterned after the Hagia Sophia on a smaller scale. In addition to the huge central dome, semidomes to the east and west form a nave, whereas to the north and south extend side aisles, each with four small domes which extend the length of the mosque, but which are not divided into galleries. The dome is supported by huge rectangular piers, with smooth pendentives and stalactite decorations. The space is lit with twenty windows at the base of the dome and seven windows on each semi-dome, in addition to two tiers of windows on the walls.

The space is lit with twenty windows at the base of the dome and seven windows on each semi-dome, in addition to two tiers of windows on the walls. On the west side, a broad extended corridor extends considerable beyond the main structure of the building. Originally designed as four domed rooms to serve as a hospice for wandering dervishes, the wings were integrated into the prayer hall in the sixteenth century and now consist of three consecutive rooms separated by archways. At the ends of these wings are the two minarets.

The Tombs Of Sultan Bayezid II And Selçuk Hatun
Sultan Selim I (1512-1520), who succeeded to the throne after Sultan Bayezid II, built a tomb for his father behind the qibla wall of his mosque. Entered through an eighteenth century portico to the northwest, the tomb is a domed octagonal chamber illuminated with two tiers of windows.

Behind the mosque is a small garden, containing the türbe (tombs) of Sultan Bayezid II, his daughter Selçuk Hatun, and Grand Vizier Koca Mustafa Reşid Pasha.

The interior, which houses the solitary sarcophagus of Bayezid II, has neo-baroque decoration from the late Ottoman period. Selçuk Hatun, one of the five daughters of Sultan Bayezid II, built her tomb during the construction of the mosque and was buried there upon her death in 1508.

It is an identical but smaller structure found immediately to the east of the sultan's tomb. Both tombs are situated inside the walls of the mosque cemetery (hazire) where government officials and their families were buried beginning in the late seventeenth century. A small rectangular tomb in eclectic style was built for Reşid Paşa at the southwest corner of the cemetery wall in 1857.

The Soup-kitchen And Caravanserai
The soup-kitchen and caravanserai are contained in a large rectangular structure built about twenty-meters outside of the northeast hospice wing, parallel to the mosque. The soup-kitchen consists of a series of a kitchens, cellars and dining rooms arranged irregularly around a partially arcaded courtyard. The caravanserai, a single room covered with six domes, adjoins the soup-kitchen to the northwest. The soup-kitchen courtyard and the caravanserai have portals facing the mosque to the northeast and are linked with a courtyard door.

The former public kitchens of the mosque was converted into the State Library of Istanbul by Sultan Abdulhamid II in 1882 and houses over 120,000 books and 7000 manuscripts. Likewise, the former madrasah now houses the Istanbul Municipal Library. Today, the soup-kitchen/caravanserai compound is occupied by the Bayezid State Library, which moved into the building following its restoration between 1947 and 1955.

The Madrasa
The Bayezid madrasa has a rectangular plan oriented along the northeast-southwest axis and is entered through a portal facing northeast. It consists of an arcaded open courtyard surrounded by domed rooms on three sides and a large classroom (dersane) on the forth side, which is aligned with the entrance across the courtyard. A roofed octagonal fountain is midway between the classroom and the entrance. Each madrasa cell is equipped with a furnace and shelving niche and has two lower and one upper window each, except for the larger corners cells which have an additional window.

The classroom, which is twice as tall as the rooms, was assembled with alternating courses of brick and cut stone, in contrast with the plain stone structure of the rooms. The entrance was originally accessed from an enclosed precourt with a gate, which was demolished in the 1940s. One of the most important educational institutions of the Ottoman city, the madrasa was restored during the early Republican period to house the Municipal Museum, followed by the Municipal Library. Directorate of Religious Foundations (Vakiflar Genel Müdürlügü) who conducted a second restoration prior to the opening of the Religious Foundations Museum for the Turkish Calligraphic Arts at the Bayezid Madrasa in 1984.

The Baths
The public baths (hamam) of the Bayezid complex, one of the largest in the city, is located on Yeniçeriler Road, at the corner of Beyazid Külhani Street. It is a double-bath with adjoining men's (east) and women's (west) sections. Both sections consist of a large dressing room, a cold room with two private cells and a hot room with four private cells, which open into each other, and a common furnace (külhan) at the northern end that heats up water drawn from a nearby well. The dressing room of the men's section is entered from the main road while the women's section is entered from the side street.

Built at the same time as the mosque, the baths were donated to the religious foundation of Gülbahar Hatun, the wife of Bayezid II. A renovation was conducted following a fire 1714. The Bayezid baths are also known for masseur Patrona Halil, who is mistakenly thought to have been working there before he led the 1730 uprising that deposed of Ahmed III (1703-1730). Abandoned for many years during the Republican era, the baths were restored in the 1960s to house the central library of Istanbul University.


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