Object of the Country

   

 


  
The Süleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul (Turkey)

 

The Süleymaniye Mosque, built over one of the seven hills of the World Heritage city of Istanbul by the order of Sultan Süleyman (Süleyman the Magnificent), "was fortunate to be able to draw on the talents of the architectural genius of Mimar Sinan" The construction work began in 1550 and the mosque was finished in 1558.

The design of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is the culmination of two centuries of both Ottoman mosque and Byzantine church developments. It incorporates some Byzantine elements of the neighboring Hagia Sophia with traditional Islamic architecture and is considered to be the last great mosque of the classical period of Ottoman Empire. The architect Sedefkar Mehmet Aga has applied the ideas of his master Sinan, aiming for overwhelming size, majesty and splendour.

The interior decoration is subtle, with very restrained use of Iznik tiles. The white marble mihrab and mimbar are also simple in design, and woodwork is restrained, with simple designs in ivory and mother of pearl.

At its lower levels and at every pier, the interior of the mosque is lined with more than 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles, made at Iznik (the ancient Nicaea) in more than fifty different tulip designs. The tiles at lower levels are traditional in design, while at gallery level their design becomes flamboyant with representations of flowers, fruit and cypresses. More than 20,000 tiles were made under the supervision of the Iznik master. The upper levels of the interior are dominated by blue paint. More than 200 stained glass windows with intricate designs admit natural light, today assisted by chandeliers.

The most important element in the interior of the mosque is the mihrab, which is made of finely carved and sculptured marble, with a stalactite niche and a double inscriptive panel above it. It is surrounded by many windows. The adjacent walls are sheathed in ceramic tiles. To the right of the mihrab is the richly decorated minber, or pulpit.

The great tablets on the walls are inscribed with the names of the caliphs and verses from the Quran. They were originally by the great 17th-century calligrapher Seyyid Kasim Gubari of Diyarbakir but have been repeatedly restored.

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Blue Mosque (© 2014 Aysun Ozkose)
Blue Mosque (© 2014 Aysun Ozkose)
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