Çemberlitaş, Istanbul, Turkey
Hegira 1169 / AD 1755
Architect: Master Builder (kalfa) Simon (Semyon, Simeon) the Rum (Greek). Calligraphers: Ali Effendi of Bursa, Mehmed Rasim, Fahreddin Yayha, Seyyid Abdülhalim.
Sultan Mahmud I (r. AH 1143–67 / AD 1730–54); Sultan Osman III (r. AH 1167–70 / AD 1754–7).
The Nuruosmaniye Mosque takes the central place amongst the other buildings of the complex, the madrasa, imaret, library, tomb, sabil, and fountain, with shops surrounding these structures.
The mosque is recognised as the most powerful example of the Baroque in Ottoman architecture. In order to build it, Sultan Mahmud I had church plans brought from Europe. He employed a Greek master-builder named Simon and ordered that a similar building be made, but these plans could not be followed due to opposition from religious scholars.
Due to the topography of the site, the mosque was built on top of a basement and its entrances placed at the top of broad, high stairs. The mosque's square prayer hall built according to the traditional scheme is covered with a dome measuring 25.75 m in diameter. The rectangular courtyard in front of the prayer hall found in Classical Ottoman mosques, has, however, given way to a polygonal courtyard. The courtyard has porticoes but no fountain. Another important feature of the building is the polygonal shape of the mihrab projection and the way it is covered with a half dome. Both the east and west ends of the portico for latecomers have a minaret with two balconies and a stone finial. Each of the porticoes extending along the east and west façades of the prayer hall join a gallery opening into the prayer hall on their southern end. The portico on the east side was the sultan's loge, accessed by a ramp. The interior is surrounded by high galleries running the length of the east, west, and north walls. The marble mihrab and minbar have profiled mouldings.
The dome, which sits on top of a quadrangular baldachin and dominates the whole building, ascends with a great effect of plasticity. The strong profiles of the main arches, the connection of these profiles to the corners with undulating lines, and the supporting of the minaret balconies on top of circular consoles instead of rows of muqarnas, are new innovations in Ottoman architecture. The exaggerated cornices with mouldings, the use of curved lines to connect these to the corners, and the supports placed one on top of the other on the walls are all associated with European architecture.
The building, completely clad in marble, is richly decorated. One of the most notable aspects of the mosque is the application of decorative elements to the architectural styles it employs. In the place of traditional elements, newly interpreted Western forms are applied. The classical forms of the arches and column capitals have changed. Round arches, undulating arches, corbelling, curvaceous C- and S-twists, elements with round profiles, assorted relief work, and cartouches, are all used to exaggerated effect. The interior features prominent inscriptions written by famous calligraphers of the time.
The Nuruosmaniye Mosque is one of the most important buildings of the Ottoman-Baroque style. It occupies a privileged position in Ottoman architecture for its use of a polygonal courtyard with no fountain and an apsidal mihrab area that remains faithful to the traditional plan of the single-dome prayer space.
The construction of Nuruosmaniye Mosque was started by Sultan Mahmud I but was completed during the reign of Sultan Osman III. Heavily influenced by Western art, the mosque has a traditional layout with a square prayer hall covered with a single dome. Its polygonal courtyard with no fountains and apse-like mihrab alcove make it the most Baroque example of Ottoman architecture. Architectural elements such as capitals, arches and conches assume Western forms given a new interpretation, moving away from traditional Ottoman forms.
TheTarih-i Camii Şerif-i Nur-u Osmanî (History of the Noble Nuruosmaniye Mosque), by the mosque's official writer Ahmed Effendi, contains detailed information about the construction of the complex. According to this document, building commenced when Sultan Mahmud I commissioned the building in AH 1161 / AD 1748. After his death, construction was completed under Sultan Osman III, in AH 1169 / AD 1755.
Kuban, D., Türk Barok Mimarisi Hakkında Bir Deneme [An Essay on Turkish Baroque Architecture], Istanbul, 1954.
Kuban, D., “Nuruosmaniye Külliyesi [Nuruosmaniye Complex]”, İstanbul Ansiklopedisi [Encyclopaedia of Istanbul], Vol. 6, 1994, pp.100–104.
Kuban, D., Kent ve Mimarlık üzerine İstanbul Yazıları [Istanbul Essays on the City and Architecture], Istanbul, 1998.
İnci Kuyulu Ersoy "Nuruosmaniye Mosque" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;tr;Mon01;35;en
Prepared by: İnci Kuyulu Ersoyİnci Kuyulu Ersoy
İnci Kuyulu Ersoy is Head of Western and Contemporary Art, Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir. She was born in Nazilli, Turkey, in 1957. She graduated from TED Ankara College in 1976 and from Hacettepe University, Social and Management Sciences Faculty, Department of History of Art in 1980. She received her MA in 1982 and her Ph.D. in 1989 from Ankara University, Faculty of Linguistics and History-Geography, Department of Art History.
She was appointed as research assistant to the Department of Art History, Ege University. She became assistant professor in 1989, associate professor in 1994 and full professor in 2000 at the same university. She is also Head of Turkish Art History at the Institute for Research on the Turkic World. She has researched and published widely on Turkish art.
Translation by: Barry WoodBarry Wood
Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions., İnci Türkoğluİnci Türkoğlu
İnci Türkoğlu has been working as a tourist guide and freelance consultant in tourism and publishing since 1993. She was born in Alaşehir, Turkey, in 1967. She graduated from the English Department of Bornova Anatolian High School in 1985 and lived in the USA for a year as an exchange student. She graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, and the professional tourist guide courses of the Ministry of Tourism in 1991. She worked as an engineer for a while. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, in 1997 with an undergraduate thesis entitled “Byzantine House Architecture in Western Anatolia”. She completed her Master's at the Byzantine Art branch of the same department in 2001 with a thesis entitled “Synagogue Architecture in Turkey from Antiquity to the Present”. She has published on art history and tourism.
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: TR 52
Islamic Dynasties / Period
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