Photographer's Note

Name Selimiye Mosque
Location Edirne, Turkey
Type Mosque
Context Urban
Style Ottoman Islamic

Located in the neighborhood of Faith - This was one of the least accessible areas of the city with the Kirk Merdiven cliffs on one side and a deep cistern on the other. The mosque was commissioned by Sultan Selim II and was built by Architect Sinan between the dates 1568-1574. This grand mosque stands at the center of a kulliya which comprises a medrese, a dar-ul hadis, a timekeeper's room and an arasta (row of shops). In this mosque Sinan employed an octagonal supporting system that is created through eight pillars incised in a square shell of walls. The four semi domes at the corners of the square behind the arches that spring from the pillars, are intermediary sections between the huge encompassing dome and the walls.
The enclosed cemetery on the kiblah, or Mecca, side of the mosque contains the remains of Yavuz Sultan Selim, the heirs of Sultan Sulayman the Magnificent who died at a young age

The original decoration is recently restored, but gives an idea of Sinan's artful decorative style. Except the dome, the surfaces of the walls and arches are very plainly painted in light red in order to mark the contours of the basic architectural forms. Glazed tiles cover the mihrab section and the false arches above the windows of the substructure. They are very carefully applied to counterpoise the empty walls below and colored arches and dome above.

The most conspicuous element inside the mosque is the respondent's platform (muezzin mahfili) at the center of the zulla (prayer hall). It is a loggia like wooden piece lifted by columns. At the north-western corner, a bulky truncated pillar is placed in order to mask the staircase leading to the podium. This small pillar brings a module to the prodigious scaling of the building. On the outside, there are four minarets ingeniously placed on the four corners of the main prayer hall. Hence the weight of the enclosing dome is balanced with the vertical extension of these slender towers. The conical caps of the turrets springing from the pillars also contributes to this equilibrium. As customary in Sinan's structures, the elements of the supporting and covering systems are exposed on the outside. The semi domes, pillars, ambulatory space and mihrab can all be perceived from outside. This masterpiece of the world architecture is a real synthesis of the building traditions that flourished in Anatolia. Most prominent of all are Late Roman (Early Byzantine) and Early Turkish elements. Sinan was a real mental giant who had the power of seeing as well as talent of interpreting this Anatolian inheritance, unique in the world.


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