Name of Monument:
Süleymaniye, Istanbul, Turkey
Date of Monument:
Hegira 957–64 / AD 1550–7
Architect(s) / master-builder(s):
Architect: Koca Mimar Sinan Ağa (d. 996 / 1588); calligrapher: Karahisari Ahmed Effendi (AH 875–963 / AD 1470–1556).
Period / Dynasty:
Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent (r. AH 926–74 / AD 1520–66).
The Süleymaniye Mosque is considered a work of the architect, Sinan's, fellow-master or kalfa period, with the Selimiye Mosque representing the absolute pinnacle of his career in his master (usta) period. The mosque is part of a külliye-type complex, where the mosque occupies the central position, occupying about 60,000 sq m in a district of Istanbul also known as Süleymaniye. The mosque is independent of the other buildings, standing within a courtyard measuring 216 m x 144 m. There is a graveyard adjoining the mosque to the south. The tombs of both Sultan Süleyman and his wife Hürrem Sultan are found in the graveyard, as well as a tomb-keeper's room. The other buildings of the complex are arranged around the mosque and graveyard on the east, west and north in a 'U' shape. To the north of the mosque are the guest rooms (tabhane), the soup-kitchen (imaret) and hospital (darüşşifa); to the west are the primary school, medical school, the first and second madrasas and the Tiryaki Market with its 36 shops; to the east are the third and fourth madrasas; and to the southeast are the school of traditions of the Prophet (darülhadis) and the bathhouse (hammam). The modest baldachin tomb of the mosque's architect, Sinan is in the northeast corner of the complex.
View Short Description
The complex has many structures with various functions such as mosque, madrasa, tabhane (guest-rooms), imaret (soup-kitchen), hospital, children's school, mausolea, darülhadis (school of traditions of the Prophet), bathhouse and market. The great Ottoman architect Sinan, who built the complex, is buried here. The central mosque is considered to be a work of Sinan's kalfa (fellow-master or intermediate) period. It is covered with a dome 27.4 m in diameter rising 49.5 m above the ground and resting on four large piers. This central dome is flanked with a semi-dome on the south and north and five lesser domes each on the east and west.
How Monument was dated:
An inscription in Arabic by the calligrapher Karahisari Ahmed Effendi on the north portal of the prayer hall states that the building's construction began in AH 957 / AD 1550 and was completed in 964 / 1557. The Tezkiretü'l-Bünyan (Memorial of Buildings), dictated by Sinan to his close friend Mustafa Sai çelebi, states more exactly that construction began on 27 Jumada I 957 / 13 June 1550 and finished on 21 Dhu'l-Hijja 964 / 15 October 1557. According to documents, the first and second madrasas were completed in 960 / 1553, and the third and fourth in 966 / 1559. The tomb of Hürrem Sultan was built in 965 / 1558, that of Süleyman in 974 / 1567.
Aslanapa, O., Osmanlı Devri Mimarisi [Architecture of the Ottoman Period], Istanbul, 1986.
Citation of this web page:
Şakir Çakmak "Süleymaniye Complex" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;tr;Mon01;25;en