Suleymaniye Mosque Istanbul
Visiting Suleymaniye MosqueThis 16th century mosque and complex is one of Istanbul’s largest and most beautiful. For visitors to Istanbul this is on the top 10 list of things to see whilst there and certainly since the 2010 renovations have been completed. The mosque sits on the Third Hill of Istanbul and can be seen from many kilometres away.
Mimar Sinan (1490-1588), the greatest of Ottoman architects, designed and began
Design of the Suleymaniye MosqueThe exterior is a mass of domes and semi-domes and the minarets are said to have symbolised Süleyman’s status; four of them signified he was the 4th Ottoman sultan to be based in Istanbul and the 10 minaret balconies (şerefes) indicate he was the 10th sultan established in the Empire. At one time the nearby street Tiryaki Çarşışı (Market of the Addicts) sold opium along with tea and coffee and wrestling matches were held every week at the front of the mosque. The huge domed interior has walls decorated with excellent Iznik tiles and the wooden shutters adorning the windows are inlaid with mother of pearl as is the preacher’s seat (kürsü).
The mihrab and mimber are made from Proconnesian marble that was quarried from Marmara Island and the design of the modern looking stained glass was by Sarhoş Ibrahim (Ibrahim the Drunkard).
The calligraphy is by Ahmed Karahisari (1468-1556) and other works of his are in the Piyale Paşa Mosque and Hasan Çelebi, his pupil, continued his work after he went blind.
There are four columns supporting the dome that are said to represent the four caliphs, one of which is from the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus , another from Egypt and two from other ancient sites in Istanbul.
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The Mosque Complex & TombsThe Süleymaniye has many surviving structures and this is one of the reasons for its popularity. There is a caravanserai and a series of medreses, a hamam, and a hospital. Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent
There is another building here with a dome that looks like a tomb that is actually the dar-ül kurra, a school where students would learn to read and recite the Koran.
The MedresesOn three sides of the mosque were the various medreses which actually formed the foundation of the Istanbul University and the reason why the area remained extremely upmarket until the 17th century. The dar-ül hadis (educational centre) was designed as a row of cells with a lecture theatre (dershane) above them rather than in the usual square. The preparatory school (mülazim) was created on five levels down the hillside in the space under the Salis (Third) and Rabi (Fourth) medreses and was restored in 2009. The Salis and Rabi medreses are exact copies of the Evvel (First) and Sani (Second) medreses that can be found on the far side of the mosque and each of these taught one of the orthodox schools of Islamic law.
The Suleymaniye Library is now housed in the Evvel and Sani medreses.
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