The most often emphasized personality in the history of Istanbul’s architecture in the sixteenth century is Mimar (architect) Sinan; particular attention has been given to the mosques he designed. This is because of the fact that the mosques of Sinan primarily stand out in the skyline of the city, resting on high points of the city, even in twentieth-century Istanbul. It is Mimar Sinan who transferred, determined and strengthened the perceptions of the Hippodrome with the minarets of Hagia Sophia and Haseki Hamamı; the Old Palace and the mosque of Süleymaniye; the kapanlar region, the trade centers of Istanbul, Şehzade and many other places in the city. However, this story was delivered in a plain and technical language. The interest in this architect and his works, in the context of the history of architecture in Istanbul, was predominant for a long time. However, with the additional contributions of historians and researchers from other social sciences, the individuals who contributed to these buildings, for example, patrons like Sultan Süleyman I and other sultans, hanım sultans (wives of sultans), senior statesmen and individuals, the usta (foremen), kalfa (skilled workers), the materials used, costs, that is, the socio-economic history, Mimar Sinan and later chief architects with their biographies, or under the title of architecture prosopography (group history), found their ways more into the agenda of the history of architecture. The two important and exclusive architectural texts that have been used in order to support this article are Tezkiretü’l-bünyân, on the mouth of Mimar Sinan written by Sâî Mustafa Çelebi in the latter part of the sixteenth century (approximately 1587), and Risâle-i Mi‘mâriyye, written by Cafer Efendi in the early seventeenth century about Mimarbaşı (chief architect Sedefkâr Mehmed Agha, the architect of the Blue Mosque. Recently the idea that these texts could contribute to exploring architecture in a different perspective, or that they could serve as a function in linking architecture with other social and individual practices have just begun to be discussed.

Here the history of Istanbul’s architecture between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries on the basis of research and the institutional framework, as has been conducted up until the present, will be discussed within the context of the above matters. In other words, there will be an attempt to explore the architecture of Istanbul via the architects, structures, patrons, architectural texts and texts related to architecture, as well as additional components, such as the formal and socio-economic history of architecture.


The heritage from the reigns of Fatih and Bayezid II prepared Istanbul for the seventeenth century. Yedikule, the Tophane (arsenal) and gunpowder factories, shipyards and waterways were built, completed or improved. All these facilities constituted the urban settting on which great kulliyes (complexes) and several structures were to be constructed. Converting the chapel of Hagia Sophia into a mosque was the first step in this direction, and in a sense, it was a precursor of new kulliye architecture. The imperial mint was established, the Old Palace rose as the administrative center; so did Old Barracks (Eski Odalar) as military installation and the Bazaar (Bedesten) as the trade center.. Food supply areas for the public, which were located in Tahtakale, would function as custom gates for flour, oil, and nuts. The location of Eyüp had started to cast its sacred light. Mahmut Paşa İmareti (soup kitchen), Üsküdar Rum Mehmet Paşa İmareti, Aksaray Has Murat Paşa Complex (Külliye), and Şeyh Ebü’l-Vefa İmareti had been established as new public works and housing. Fatih Complex had broadened new and great horizons for worship, knowledge, morals and architecture. The new palace was Topkapı. The Eski Saray (old palace) moved to the new palace. Beyazıt Mosque became the second largest grand mosque in the city, and viziers began to make their presence felt in the Divanyolu. The architecture of Bursa and Edirne moved to Istanbul, and Istanbul carried out new experiments. In this way the road to Yavuz Sultan Selim Complex was paved.

1- Yavuz Sultan Selim Complex (Kulliyah)

Yavuz’s Makam

It would not be incorrect to say that the importance of Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque (1520/1521- 1522) arises from the very fact that it was the third structure in the selatin mosque and külliye tradition, following the külliyes of Fatih and Beyazıt II. It is commonly accepted that Sultan Süleyman I built the külliye for his father, Selim I, as soon as he became sultan. According to the kitabe (inscription) of the mosque, it was completed in 1522. Researchers frequently state that the mosque was built in a district of Istanbul that was not central during the first quarter of the fifteenth century. However, this is probably not accurate; Fatih Çarşamba was one of the most crowded provinces of Istanbul at that time. Although it is located outside of the cental line of Ayasofya-Beyazıt-Fatih-Edirnekapı, the location that was chosen to commemorate Yavuz was a residential district, and it was easy to reach from the Golden Horn. Other large külliyes of Istanbul, which would shift the density of settlement to other centers, were yet to be built. The mosque, darüzziyafe (tabhane) (inn), tomb, imarethane, kiler (larders), and stable were recorded in the vakfiye (deeds), dated 15561 and Sultan Selim was buried in the tomb. In addition, a sıbyan mektebi (primary school) was built within the külliye. 30 years later the Madrasa of Yavuz Selim was also built by Mimar Sinan as a building separate from the külliye. Buildings that have survived to the present day are the mosque, tomb, and the sıbyan mektebi.

2- Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque

Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque mirrors Edirne Beyazıt Mosque with regard to its plan and style. The main space of the mosque is a cube with one dome, and it consists of structures situated on two sides. This approach, which is known as “Inverted T plan”, zaviyeli or tabhaneli, became prevalent in Istanbul after Istanbul Beyazıt Mosque, but the influence was Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque. Istanbul continued to be influenced by architecture from Edirne and Bursa. Later in the sixteenth century, in addition to Edirne and Bursa, other locations and ancient monuments of Istanbul, like Hagia Sophia, would be indigenized as well, becoming the main dynamics for new compositions. Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque was one of the important structures in this direction. Yavuz Sultan Selim, who conquered Egypt, ordered Mimarbaşı Acem Ali to build Sultan Selim Mosque (1522) to unify and glorify the style of Bursa and Edirne Beyazıt Külliyesi; this was built on the crest of the Golden Horn next to the Byzantium cistern known as Çukurbostan.2 Although it has been said that this structure was built by Mimar Acem Ali, there is no evidence to support this. Moreover, it is likely that Acem Ali, who was active in architectural activities throughout the Ottoman territory at this time, was working on the construction of Sultan Selim Complex.

The First Istanbul Architect to be Awarded the title of Mimarbaşı: Alaeddin Ali bin Abdullah, Acem Alisi

First time the name Mimar Acem Ali is mentioned as the successor of the architect Yakub Şah bin Sultan Şah in Ottoman documents dated in 1503.3 Acem Ali passed away in 1539.

3- Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque

The architect had two vakfiyes (endowment deeds). The first of these is dated 1525 and the other 1537. Mimar Acem Ali is named and described as “el-Üstâdu’l-kâmilü’l-habîr ve’l-mühendisü’l-mâhirü’l-hatîr (…) hakîm ‘Alâ‘ü’d-dîn ‘Alî Bey ibni ‘Abdü’l-kerîm re’isü’l-mi‘mârînü’l-emîrîn” (The most erudite master and the most skilled engineer ‘Alâ‘ü’d-dîn ‘Alî Bey ibni ‘Abdü’l-kerîm, the chief of architects) in the first vakfiye; and as “el-Üstâdu’l-kâmilü’l-habîr ve’l-mühendisü’l-mâhirü’l-hatîr ‘alemü’l-mühendisîn re’isü’l-mi‘mârîn (…) ‘Alî Bey ibni ‘Abdü’l-vehhâb” (The most erudite master and the most skilled engineer, head of engineers and chief of architects ‘Alî Bey ibni ‘Abdü’l-vehhâb) in the second vakfiye.

He is mentioned as re’isü’l-mi‘mârînü’l-emîrîn (chief architect) in a vakfiye dated 1525, and as Alâ‘ü’d-dîn ser-mi‘mârân (head architect) in the cemaat-ı mimarân (community of architects) dated 1525-1526. Mimar Acem Ali continued to appear at the top of the list as mimarbaşı until his death. It is commonly believed that that Acem Ali, who, as stated above, most likely died in 1539, was the first person to be given the title of başmimar after his predecessor üstad Yakub Şah el-mi‘mâr el-mühtedî (expert master Yakub Shah, the convert); this latter can be considered to be the original başmimar. In this respect, it is possible to say that the title of başmimar came into usage to designate the profession of chief architect during the reign of Sultan Süleyman I.4 Of course, other titles referring to senior or skilled architects or chief architects, similar to başmimar, were also in use.

Mimar Acem Ali had worked as an architect in the three great selatin mosques/külliyes that were constructed before the time when Sinan became mimarbaşı in Istanbul (1539). Mimar Acem Ali worked as mimar halifesi during the construction of Beyazıt Mosque. He participated in the renovation of Fatih Mosque in 1511. He was in charge of constructing the tombs of the brothers of the sultan who were killed by Yavuz Sultan Selim in 1513. Moreover, he built a Turkish hamam in Boğazkesen Kalesi (Rumelihisarı) in 1513, and he repaired the walls of Istanbul in the same year. He completed the Topkapı Divanhane Palace in the 1520s (1528). About two to three years before the construction of Divanhane, Mimar Acem Ali organized the water for Topkapı Palace. Bursa (Pirinç Hanı, 1507), Amasya (II. Beyazıt Mosque, 1509), and the renovation of Dimetoka Palace (1510) are other construction sites in which he was involved.

4- The entrance gate of Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque

According to the vakfiye records, Mimar Acem Ali constructed a mosque, mektep and zaviye in the neighborhood of Üstat Acem Alisi Mosque, which was named after him (Mahalle-i Câmi‘-i Üstâd ‘Ali eş-şehîr bi-‘Acem ‘Alisi)5. Mimar Acem Mosque, which is located in Melek Hatun Neighborhood, Mimar Acem Camii Street, was built in 930 (between 1523 and 1524). It was renovated in the eighteenth century. In the nineteenth century this mosque was destroyed as a result of two fires, and although it was rebuilt, it is not currently in its original form.6

Acem Ali created three külliyes in Istanbul; thus, he prepared the way for his successor Sinan, who built numerous architectural structures in Istanbul over a period of fifty years.


The Architect of Bîsütûn Mountain

Üstad-ı Kâr-dân-ı Ser-Mimarân Sinan bin Abdülmennan

Ben ki mi‘mâr-ı mübârek-makdemem/Ben ki pîr-i hânkâh-ı ‘âlemem; Hak bilür yapdum neçe beyt-i ilâh/Neçe biñ mihrâb kıldum secdegâh; Hamdülillâh saklayup İslâmumı/‘Adl-ile hükm eyledüm ahkâmumı; Hasb-i hâlüm añlamañ kasd-i riyâ/Umarın kim edeler hayr du’â; Mâlı olanlar eder câmi’ binâ/Bir du’â muhtâcıdur bay u gedâ; Bende umar anlara ola yakın/Rahmetullâhi ‘aleyhim ecma’în (Sâî Mustafa Çelebi, Tezkiretü’l-Bünyan).7

(I am an architect whose arrival is fortunate/I am the pir of the tekke of the World; Allah knows, I have built many houses of God;/In order for people to prostrate, and have erected thousand mihrabs. Thank God, protecting my Islam/I have always made my decisions justly. Do not take my words as hypocrisy/ It is my hope to be prayed for. Those who are wealthy build mosques/ Both rich and poor are expected to pray. May this slave be close to them/ May Allah have mercy on all of their souls.)

Her san‘atun üstâdı ve her Bî-sütûn’un Ferhâd’ı vardur. Bu kârı mi‘mâr ile müşâvere lâzımdur. Bunun lâzım olan ‘amelîsidür, ‘ilmîsi değüldür.” Merhum ve Mağfur Sultan Süleyman bin Selim Han (Saî Mustafa Çelebi, Tezkiretü’l-bünyân).8

(There is a master for every art and a Ferhad for every Bîsütun Mountain. Such tasks should be consulted to a mimarbaşı. What we need is practice not theory.” Sultan Süleyman I -Saî Mustafa Çelebi, Tezkiretü’l-bünyân)

Sinan was born some time in the 1490s, and died in 1588. He was a convert to Islam from the province of Kayseri, brought there during Selim I’s military expedition to Iran. After having been given to a Turkish family, he became an acemioğlanı; at the beginning of Sultan Süleyman I’s reign he became a janissary. His later bureaucratic title was atlı sekban, which he was given after he participated in military expeditions to Belgrade (1521) and Rhodes (1522-1523). Later, he was appointed as acemioğlan yayabaşısı and kapıyayabaşısı during the Battle of Mohacs (1526), as zenberekçibaşı during the German Campaign (1532), and as haseki after his return from the military expedition to Baghdad (1536). Sinan, who was mimar, haseki also became known as subaşı9 and mimarbaşı, on the recommendation of the grand vizier Lütfi Pasha.10

When architecture in several locations across the Ottoman territory is examined, it is possible to find that Sinan’s name was mentioned as the architect for over a period of fifty years, that is, from the time when he became mimarbaşı, until 1588, when he died. Sinan was the leading architect during the empire’s most prosperous and fertile times. He was the first architect to be sought out for his talents, particularly by the elites of the palace, as well as other wealthy patrons.

In order to immortalize their names and be remembered for charitable acts, sultans, royal women, grand viziers, viziers, pashas, members of the educated class, sheikhs, clerks (nişancı and defterdar), palace officials (ağalar and seyfiye), and many others had dealings with Sinan, who was in the highest office of the state bureaucratic system for architectural activities.11

Sinan adorned Istanbul (Süleymaniye Külliyesi) for Sultan Süleyman I, Edirne (Selimiye Külliyesi) for Selim II, Manisa (Muradiye Külliyesi) for Murad III with divine buildings. He constructed mosques for the elite class. The next highest in rank after the sultans were royal women. The most important sponsors of Sinan, after the sultans, were the wife of Sultan Süleyman I and the mother of Selim II, Haseki (Favorite) Hürrem Sultan (Avratpazarı-Haseki Külliyesi), the daughters of Sultan Süleyman I and Hürrem Sultan, the wife of the grand vizier Rüstem Pasha, Mihrimah Sultan (Edirnekapı and Üsküdar Mihrimah Sultan külliyes), the wife of Selim II and mother of III Murad, Valide Nurbanu Sultan (Üsküdar Atik Valide Külliyesi); daughter of Selim II and the wife of Vezir Zal Mahmud Pasha, Şah Sultan (Eyüp Şah Sultan Mosque, Merkez Efendi Külliyesi, outside Yenikapı).

During the time when Sinan was mimarbaşı, the statesmen who held the post of grand vizier played an important role in bringing architectural practices to the fore in the Ottoman State, patronizing important buildings. Some of these grand viziers included Sokullu Mehmed Pasha (Eyüp -İsmihan Sultan and Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Külliyesi, Kadırga Limanı, İsmihan Sultan and Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Külliyesi, Azapkapı Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Mosque), Rüstem Pasha (Tahtakale Rüstem Paşa Mosque), Kara Ahmed Pasha (Topkapı Kara Ahmet Paşa Külliyesi), Semiz Ali Pasha (Marmara Ereğlisi Semiz Ali Paşa Mosque) and Hadım Mesih Pasha (Yenibahçe Mesih Paşa Mosque).

Due to the actions of some viziers, admirals and people in charge of bureaucratic missions, Sinan’s architecture began to gain in popularity, both in Istanbul and in the other parts of the Ottoman territory. The style that particularly became popular was that used in structures patronized by kaptanıderyas, like Barbaros Hayreddin Pasha (Beşiktaş Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa Tomb), Sinan Pasha (Beşiktaş Sinan Paşa Külliyesi), Piyale Mehmed Pasha (Kasımpaşa Piyale Paşa Mosque), Kılıç Ali Pasha (Tophane Kılıç Ali Paşa Külliyesi). Some examples of statesmen who had buildings built in Istanbul were Zal Mahmud Pasha (Eyüp - Şah Sultan and Zal Mahmut Paşa Külliyesi), Hadım İbrahim Pasha (Silivrikapı Hadım İbrahim Paşa Mosque and Tomb), Musahip Şemsi Ahmed Pasha (Üsküdar Şemsi Paşa Külliyesi), Nişancı Mehmed Pasha (Karagümrük Nişancı Mehmet Paşa Mosque and Tomb), Ferhad Pasha (Çatalca Ferhat Paşa Mosque), İskender Pasha (Kanlıca İskender Paşa Mosque). But Sinan’s architecture was not just in demand for Istanbul– statesmen outside of Istanbul also hired him to design buildings. Some of Sinan’s patrons included Hüsrev Pasha, Sofu Mehmed Pasha, Cenabî Ahmed Pasha, Pertev Mehmed Pasha, Maktul Mustafa Pasha, Lala Mustafa Pasha, Hadım Ali Pasha.

5- Haseki Hürem Sultan Complex

Although very few structures other than Molla Çelebi Mosque whose construction in Fındıklı, Istanbul Anatolian kazasker Mehmed Vusulî Efendi patronized; religious scholars and sheikhs are other important patronizing individuals. Some of the important patrons recorded in the Sinan’s autobiographies were: Nureddin Hamza Efendi, Sadi Çelebi, Abdülaziz Efendi, Malul Emir Mehmed Efendi, Ebussuud Efendi, Hamid Efendi, Perviz Efendi, Mahmud Baba, Çivizade Mehmed Efendi and Hocazade Mustafa Efendi.

Of the mosques Sinan built for members of the kalemiye (nişancı and defterdar), only the Defterdar Mustafa Çelebi Mosque in Edirne has survived in its original form until today. Some of the names of the patrons in this group, mentioned in the Sinan tezkires were Başdefterdar (head treasurer) Abdüsselam Efendi, Defterdar Mustafa Çelebi, Ebulfazl Mehmed Efendi, Nişancı Celalzade Mustafa Çelebi, Mustafa Efendi, Defterdar Mehmed Çelebi and Hasan Çelebi.

Patronage from aghas and seyfiye (officers) should not be forgotten, as they brought to life many projects, large and small, to beautify Istanbul. This group was more fortunate than the members of the kalemiye in terms of important structures that managed to survive in their original form from Sinan’s time until today; these patrons include Çavuşbaşı Mahmud Agha (Sütlüce Çavuşbaşı Mahmut Ağa Mosque), Tercüman Yunus Bey (Dragoman Yunus Bey Külliyesi), Hürrem Çavuş (Yenibahçe Hürrem Çavuş Mosque), Kapıağası Mahmud Agha (Ahırkapı Kapıağası Mahmut Ağa Mosque), Ferruh Kethüda, the kethüda (steward) to Semiz Ali Pasha (Balat Ferruh Kethüda Mosque), the Darüssaade agha, Habeşî Mehmed Agha, who charged Davud Agha with the construction of a külliye he had built when Sinan was mimarbaşı, (Çarşamba Mehmet Ağa Külliyesi), Odabaşı Behruz Agha (Yenikapı Odabaşı Behruz Ağa Mosque). In addition to the kethüda of the grand vizier Kara Ahmed Pasha, Hüsrev Kethüda, the kethüda of the grand vizier Sokullu Mehmed Pasha, Yahya Kethüda, some other names include Yakup Agha, Cafer Agha, Sekbanbaşı Ali Agha, Kabasakal Sinan Agha, Mehmed Çelebi and Mahmud Agha.

6- Haseki Hürem Sultan Mosque

The master butcher Hacı Evhad Efendi (Yedikule Hacı Evhat Mosque) and the Bedesten Kethüda Hoca Hüsrev Efendi (Kocamustafapaşa Bezirgânbaşı Hacı Hüsrev Mosque) were “wealthy” merchants and craftsmen among the patrons who comissioned Sinan for constructing buildings. These people were of some importance, and are “interesting” people in terms of the relationship between architect and patron. Patrons like the Debbağ usta Hacı Hamza, Süheyl Bey of the naval captains, the daughter of İskender Pasha, Mihrişah Hatun, and Gülfem Hatun of the cariyes from the palace are also notable names.

What do the structures of Sinan mean for Istanbul? Turgut Cansever (d. 2009) provides an answer to this question:

“With reference to the Islamic belief stating that a word which is incomprehensible is a sin, the architectural work of Mimar Sinan reflects the principles and soul of a structure in which the main expressions are clearly manifested. These appear in the buildings in a way that allow those who observe from a distance to see these reflections. Closer up, it is possible to appreciate both the coherence and the contrast, revealed by the tomb, from top to bottom, and the minaret, from bottom to top, as primary components. It is possible to recognize the beauty of the internal structure of the rock and the ornamental components that have been added to the structure. In the way that the structures relate to the environment in which they are found, and the land on which they are located, visitors can clearly observe the way in which the framework enables the structure to be recognized.”12

The comment by Turgut Cansever, below, is an example of a statement that Mimar Sinan had a clear idea of Istanbul, and he reflected this in through the work he carried out for patrons, some of whom we mentioned earlier:

“In addition to the contrasts of the sublime and the prosaic, realty and fantasy, material and intangiblity, piety and wealth, large and small, complex and plain, one facing the ground and one rising to the sky, with movement created by using different dimensions of the columns, pediments, domes and arches, Sinan took the world of beauty, discovered through the essence of expression from the ancient Ottoman period, and transmitted it to later generations; by using contrasts of expression as complementary elements in his architectural language, internalizing the architectural heritage of the past, which we have mentioned above, without falling into any dogmatic passion, researching what needs to be done using latest techniques, coming up with new solutions using the opportunities that society and the geography he found himself in provided him with.”13

7- Haseki Hürem Sultan Mosque

Haseki Hürrem Sultan Complex and Other Female Patron’s of the Sixteenth Century

Evsâf-ı câmi‘-i Vâlide-i Şehzâdegân, a‘ni Hasekî Sultân: ‘Avrat Bâzârunda bir câmi‘-i ‘âlîdür kim bî-bedeldür. Ammâ gayrı cevâmi‘ler gibi kebîr degüldür. Bir minâreli ve bir tabakalı câmi‘-i rûşendür. Bir ‘imâreti ve dârü’z-ziyâfesi ve bir dârü’l-cünûn tîmârhânesi ve bir medresesi ve bir mekteb-i sıbyân-ı ebcedhân ile ma‘mûr bir câmi‘-i pür-envârdur. Ve pâdişâh Süleymân Hân-ı mağfûrun nezâket [ü] zerâfet-i tâb‘-ı şerüflerindendür kim Hasekî Sultan hayratun ‘Avrat Bâzârunda binâ itmişlerdür. (Evliya Çelebi, Seyahatnâme).14

(This is a noble and invaluable mosque in Avratpazarı, but unlike other mosques it is not large. It is an agreeable mosque with one single-galleried minaret and a flourhising complex with its hospice, hospital, madrasa, and elementary school for teaching the alphabet. And it was the delicate character of the prudent Süleyman Khan that made him build the mosque of Haseki Sultan in Avratpazarı.)

Upon the death of Mimarbaşı Acem Ali, the office of mimarbaş was handed over to Sinan Agha in 1539. At this time, Sinan was in his late 40s. Shortly after taking office, Sinan began constructing the külliye for Sultan Süleyman I beloved wife, Hürrem Sultan (married in 1534), in Avratpazarı.

8- Haseki Hürem Sultan Complex

Initially, the külliye consisted of four main buildings, including a mosque, a madrasa, a sıbyan mektebi (primary school), and an imaret. The mosque, madrasa, and imaret were completed in 945 (1538-1539), 946 (1539-1540) and 1540. The darüşşifa, located behind the madrasa, was completed in 957 (1550-1551).15 There is no record for the imaret in the Sinan’s biographies (Tuhfetü’l-mi‘mârîn, Tezkiretü’l-ebniye, Tezkiretü’l-bünyân etc.).

Before proceeding to describe the features of this structure, it is worth mentioning the location and function of the külliye; this will help develop an idea about Istanbul’s development and housing policy in the sixteenth century. The külliye is located at the Forum of Arcadius, which dates from the Roman period. In the center of this forum stands the Column of Arcadius, known as Kıztaşı. During Ottoman times, this was a district of orchards and gardents, with few inhabitants and sparse housing. It is known that the gardens continued to exist around the Haseki Külliyesi, even after the construction of the külliye. Moreover, the income from these gardens, which were directly in the front of and next to the külliye, were recorded in the account books of the Haseki Vakfı. There were revenue-generating shops and cottages, built of wood, around the külliye.16 As the name Avrat Pazarı suggests, this location operated both as a bazaar where women sold products produced from the neighboring orchards and gardens, as well as the place where slaves were sold.17 The largest and most important part of the külliye was the imaret. This imaret offered a golden opportunity for the needy and students who lived in the district.

There seems to be two important reasons for choosing this place for the construction of the külliye. Firstly, it seems possible to say that a district with a relatively sparse settlement was opened as a residential area with the construction of the külliye. Secondly, with the madrasa, the sıbyan mektebi, the darüşşifa, and, especially the imaret, that were built here, a type of social service was developed through the agency of the vakıf that offered services for the needy, women, children, the insane and even criminals. It is worth pondering the question whether the function of the group of buildings Hürrem Sultan had constructed in Avratpazarı were influenced by the location.

9- Mihrimah Sultan Complex in Üsküdar

In terms of the stylistic features of the mosque, the construction of the building at first had one dome. Another space with a dome, the same size as the first dome, was added to the south of the building in 1612.18 The madrasa was a building with a cloister and hücre (cells/rooms) on three sides. The sıbyan mektebi consisted of a room with a square plan and an adjacent courtyard, the same size as the room, surrounded by revak (porticoes). The two structures of the külliye that have significant stylistic features are the imaret and the darüşşifa. In the imaret, “the column headings of the elegant diamond-patterned columns are immediately under the upper profile of the revak; two columns, leaning upon one another, create a narrow but sharp corner on which pear-shaped arches rest; these arches, rising to the sky, make an impressive contrast to the voluminous dome that is completed with rounded lanterns.”19 The main entrance of the darüşşifa is from the street that runs parallel. The two sections, each of which consists of six rooms, with entrances from the two corners of the octagon, are planned in an unusual way. In addition, these corner iwans, by which one can enter the two sections, have a locational organization that is completely different from the other areas, which can be called the entrance iwans and which lead into the structure across from the entrance at the lower level, and other similar places, like the toilets.

10- Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in Üsküdar

Mimar Sinan constructed yet another building for Hürrem Sultan near the Hippodrome (today’s Sultanahmet Square), which is exceptionally important from the aspect of Istanbul’s hamam (bathhouse) architecture: Haseki Hamamı (1556-1557). According to Cansever, this hamam:

“Rises from the ground, has smooth walls that maintain their vertical surfaces; some are low while others are higher, and sharp. Thus, the line, the cubic forms of the domes of different sizes located in the geometric layout, the grey and elegant silver texture that originates with the thin lines ending at the base of the lanterns of the domed covering, providing the hamam with light, bring the glorious beauty of the manner of Ottoman piety (to do with less) into existence.. This structure of Sinan’s is an example of a more effective structure compared to the ones from previous periods which had lead covered domes resting on octagonal hoops, rising from walls that rise straight from the ground. This line and the spectacular architectural relation of plaster-wall-cellar is an important step in the development of Sinan’s architecture.20

Üsküdar Mihrimah Sultan Complex

Essese bünyân hâze’l-mescid el-câmi‘ el-müşeyyed el-erkân sâhibetü’l-hayrât ve’l-hasenât dürretü’t-tâcü’s-saltanat el-‘azîmetü’ş-şân ‘ismetü’l-mülk ve’d-dünyâ ve’d-dîn Hânım Sultân -hasseh-Allâhu te‘âlâ bi-mezîdi’l-ihsân-… (Cami Kitabesi, 1548).21

“The foundation was laid for the construction of this strong-pillared Friday mosque by the patroness of pious foundations and good deeds, the pearl of the crown of the sultanate, the greatly renowned honour of the state and the world and the faith, Hanım Sultan,- may God, the Exalted, distinguish her with the utmost beneficences…”

Merhum ve mağfûrun-leh Sultân Süleymân Hân Gâzînün -tâbe serâhu- duhter-i sa‘d-ahterü merhûme Mihrümâh Sultân -rahimehâ Allâhû- medîne-i Üsküdârda sâhil-i bahrda bir kubbe-i matbû‘ ve iki minâre-i mevzûn ile bir câmi‘-i ‘âlî ve ma‘bed-i sâmî ve bu câmi‘ün cânib-i şarkîsinde tahsîl-i ‘ulûm içun bir medrese-i ‘âliye ve bu medrese civârında bir matbah-ı ta& lsquo;âm ve bu câmi‘ün cânib-i garbîsinde buyût-ı müte‘addideyi müştemil müsâfirîn içün bir dârü’z-ziyâfe ve câmi‘ün cânib-i şimâlîsinde ebnâ-i sebîl içün iki ribât-ı ‘âlî binâ itmişdür. (Âşık Mehmed, Menâzirü’l-avâlim).22

“The daughter of Sultan Süleyman Khan, the late Mihrimah Sultan, built a long the seashore of Üsküdar a lofty mosque with an agreeable dome and two well-proportioned minarets, and an elevated madrasa for the study of the sciences at the east side of this mosque, and a hospice kitchen near the madrasa, and a multi-chambered banqueting house (dârü’z-ziyâfe) for guests at the west side of the mosque, as well as two lofty caravansarays (ribât) for travellers at its north side.”

11- The entrance gate of Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in Üsküdar and the inscription    above the gate.

The patron of the külliye was Mihrimah Sultan, the only daughter of Sultan Süleyman I and Hürrem Sultan. Mihrimah Sultan was married to Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasha. Rüstem Pasha also supervised the construction affairs of Mihrimah Sultan and was the procurator of her waqf.23 For this reason, at times who the patron of the külliye became unclear, and the name of Rüstem Pasha was sometimes mentioned as the patron. This was the first large külliye in Istanbul built by a hanım sultan (royal woman). According to the külliye inscription, this complex was completed in 1548 at the Üsküdar pier. It is a building that is worthy of attention.

The date the külliye was constructed coincides with Şehzade Külliyesi, built by Sultan Süleyman I; the sultan dedicated this structure to the name of Mihrimah Sultan’s brother, who had passed away (1543-1548). Moreover, the darüşşifa, that is, the final structure of Haseki Hürrem Sultan Külliyesi, began to be built in 1538, being completed in 1550. 1548 is also the starting date of the construction of Süleymaniye Külliyesi; the construction would last for about 10 years. Within the context of these great külliyes, it is not hard to imagine the activity involved in the construction (the usta, workers, materials, economy, etc.) during this period. The activity in this period could well have made attaining supplies easier.24 Külliyes named after Sultan Süleyman I, Hürrem Sultan, their only daughter, and their deceased son (Haseki, Şehzade, Mihrimah and Süleymaniye), were built over a period of twenty years in Istanbul during this era. The regions of Avratpazarı, Üsküdar, Saraçhane and Eski Saray took on new looks during this construction.

Examing the vakfiye (1550-1558), it is possible to understand which buildings were present when the külliye was first built: there was a mosque, madrasa, misafirhane (tabhane), han, imaret and sıbyan mektebi. This functional aspect of the külliye seems to have had a direct relation to the location. The daily use of the misafirhane, han and imaret, a destination for long-range trade, much like the Üsküdar Pier, means that it must have been a bustling place. Although the imaret, tabhane and han have not survived until today, the mosque, madrasa and sıbyan mektebi are still standing.

12- Mihrimah Sultan Complex in Edirnekapı

The külliye is unique in that it was the first large complex built on the Istanbul shore. Thus, a comment on Sinan’s experience should be made here. When it comes to Sinan’s architecture, this is a structure which should not be overlooked by experts. Furthermore, it would not be wrong to say that this mosque was the subject of many urban legends, due to both its visibility, being at the highest level of Istanbul, and the legendary, fictional relation between its patron and Sinan. This main structure by Sinan has been the subject of many exaggerated and speculative rumors.

Turgut Cansever, who comments on the location of the structure, arrives at certain conclusions by drawing attention to some details. The şadırvan is located on the center line of the mihrap, north of the külliye wall, beneath the eaves; as a result, Cansever maintains that Sinan deliberately established a connection between the şadırvan and the sea. His comments are as follows:

“The fact that the land on which the mosque is located is sloped, by necessity creating a terrace at the entrance side that faces the Bosphorus. This wall, which protects the mosque and also acts as the harim wall (the wall around the yard of the mosque), strengthens the European side of Istanbul and the sea. It was probably closer to the mosque when constructed, and could be seen with all of its beauty from high places to the south and to the north. The şadırvan (ablution fountain) is located beneath the section that stretches towards the sea, a large water surface that stretches towards the horizon; this section is the centerline of the building. The synergy of şadırvan and the sea, which separates the two sides of the city while unifying them, allows us to recognize two different bodies of water with their similarities and contrasts. This demonstrates that Sinan deliberately used architecture, expressions of form and different means of expression, not only in the buildings, but also how to view the world from them in order to beautify the world.”25

13- Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in Edirnekapı

There is no semi-dome on the side of the mosque that faces the sea; rather this is covered by a central dome. Three semi-domes are in keeping with the cubic block beneath the central dome. When seen from the sea, we see a dome with curved line, a cube with vertical line, a thick canopy line with a vertical line, and the wall of the külliye below these. The two minarets strengthen this form, and the horizontality of the adjacent madrasa appears as if pointing at the mosque. To consult Cansever again:

“The horizontal mass of the madrasa is fortified by the domes and windows, and is completed by the existence of two minarets and a large arch; this makes the façade of the mosque that is on the side of the sea, which is at a higher level, transparent; at the same time, the mosque is located in a disconnected manner with the ground on the grey shadow created by the large eaves of the mass of the mosque, which is covered in lead.”26

Edirnekapı Mihrimah Sultan Complex

Edirne Kapusına karîb bir makâm-ı refi‘-i dilfirîbde tavr-ı garîb-i gayrı-mükerrer, tarz-ı ‘acîb-i gayrı-mutasavver, menî‘ü’l-bünyân, bedî‘ü’l-erkân, sun‘-ı sun‘î-yi latîf bir câmi‘-i şerîf binâ buyurdular ki cemi‘-i ahâsin-i mahâsinâtda mecmû‘, sahnât-ı hasenesinün nazîri gayrı-manzûr, belki gayrı-mesmû‘, zâhir-i kubbe-i asmânı habbe-i müstedîre ve kule-i ‘aliyyetü’l-kahhâr-ı müstenîresi bir Tûr-ı Sînâ-i mehbit-i levâmi‘-i nûr ve senâ.

…“Ve dahî câmi‘-i medh ü senâ olan câmi‘-i pür-senânun harem-i dahiliyesine muttasıl onyedi hücre-i zâtü’l-senâyı müştemil, behcet ve bahâda bî-bahâne, zîb ü zînetde yegâne bir medrese-i mü’essesetü’l-bünyân mürtefi‘atü’l-erkân inşâ idüp ve havâlî-yi harem-i muhterem-i muharrerde bünyâd-ı metîn nihâd-ı rasîn altmış iki bâb dekâkîn mukâbelesinde altında üç bâb dekâkîni muhtevî bir hâne ve yanında bir bakkâl dükkânı binâ eylediler (Vakfiye, 1570).27

14- Atik Valide Sultan Mosque

(The royal mosque is a lofty mosque built on an elevated site at the inner face of Edirnekapı. It is built in an unpreatable strange manner and an unimaginable wonderful style, featuring unassailable foundations, lofty columns, and artistic grace. It embodies the most beautiful of all beautiful characteristics, the like of tis beauty being hitherto unseen and perhaps unheard of. The exterior of its heavenly dome is a spherical bubble and an overwhelming illimunated sumit, like a Mount Sinai that is a place of descent for flasches of light.

… Adjacent to the inner court of the admirable mosque, a madrasa with lofty foundations and pillars consisting of seventeen praiseworthy chambers, uneqalled in cheerfulness and costliness and unique in decoration and ornament, was built. And around the venerable courtyard, sixty-two strongly constructed shops and a house across from it containin three shops underneath with an adjacent grocery store were erected.)

The first building permit for the complex, the second largest külliye built by Mihrimah Sultan, was renewed and another was given in 1563. The building was located at the ending point of the walls that ran along the Divanyolu axis, in the city walls, in Edirnekapı; there is a very short distance between this building and the walls. The külliye is a structure built by Mimar Sinan, and consists of a mosque, madrasa, stores, a hamam and a tomb. Mihrimah Sultan’s son-in-law, Güzelce Ahmed Pasha, her daughter Ayşe Sultan and her other children are buried in the tomb. The tomb is situated inside the Mihrimah Sultan Külliyesi, but it is connected by a waqf that belongs to Ayşe Sultan.28 The mosque and the madrasa were completed in 976 (1568-1569). The vakfiye of the külliye is dated 1570. The building permit for a double hamam, which is in the other unit of the külliye, is dated 1565.

15- Atik Valide Complex

It is interesting that there were two building permits for the külliye. Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasha was granted the first permit when he was having a mosque in Tahtakale built. After he died, his wife Mihrimah Sultan, continued to oversee the construction, and thus a second building permit was given. However, the request for the second building permit actually was concerned with another matter, the mosque being built by Hüsrev Kethüda, the trustee of Kara Ahmed Pasha (d. 1555), an enemy of Rüstem Pasha, was building a mosque on behalf of Ahmed Pasha near the land on which the Mihrimah Sultan Külliyesi was to be built. Mihrimah Sultan requested that her father, Sultan Süleyman I, prohibit the construction of this building. It is for this reason that a second permit was needed. As a result of the second permit, it is likely that the construction came to a halt, and the mosque of Kara Ahmed Pasha was built in Topkapı instead of Edirnekapı. The situation became so heated that the sheikh-al Islam of the era, Ebussuud Efendi, even issued a fatwa on the matter.29 The sultan, the daughter of the sultan, the grand vizier, the sheikh-al Islam and any other people close to these became involved in this debate; articles about this debate could present a different aspect of architectural history.

The külliye, the structure that was most greatly affected by the earthquakes of Istanbul, underwent through several essential renovations. The mosque and the madrasa have survived until today, but the shops were destroyed. However, it is possible to see traces of their existence in the walls of the madrasa. The arrangement and location of both the madrasa and the shops are quite different when compared to other külliyes. The architectural design on the eastern and northern sides of the külliye is remarkable. There are arches encircling the court on the inner wall of the east side; behind these are the madrasa’s hücres, and behind these are the shop units, which are not connected with the interior, but rather face the street. The entrance to the main courtyard is on the northern side; this has been placed asymmetrically to the outer walls of the külliye. From the inside of the külliye there is a line of porticoes and shops that are in a line. The western side of the court consists of porticoes and madrasa hücres. On the southern side are the porticoes of the son cemaat, which are higher than the madrasa arches. It is possible to conclude that the arrangement and contents of the northern and eastern sides are directly associated with the location of the külliye. The fact that the külliye is located directly next to a gate in the city walls and the shops are located at points on busy trade lines (according to the vakfiye, there were 62 shops, with three shops and a grocer on the lower level of the house opposite the külliye), suggests that these were purposefully positioned on the two sides of the külliye that face Edirnekapı. At the same time, there is a contradiction between commercial structures looking to the the outside while the madrasa faces inwards; both aspects were essential to daily life. Thus, a natural, although striking, solution was created with the madrasa and the shops being situated back to back, facing in their natural directions (inwards and outwards).

16- Atik Valide Sultan Mosque

The principle elements of a mosque structure are a cube, topped by a dome, and a large façade arch. Üsküdar Mihrimah Sultan and Süleymaniye mosques are important examples of locating this cube along the Divanyolu axis; these can be seen more directly and clearly from the entrance gate to the city. “Sinan used a dome placed on a high and large façade arch on a cubic base in the Üsküdar Mihrimah Mosque, and with the two side arches of Süleymaniye with the bases, giving them clear missions. This manifests a will to come up with new solutions in reference to his historical accumulation and his personal experiences.”30

When the külliye is seen from the street, the shops and horizontal length of the madrasa highlights the cubic outline of the mosque. The height of the madrasa and son cemaat contribute to the following observation:

“The spacious court of Mihrimah Sultan Mosque is surrounded with madrasa hücres on three sides; the breadth of this courtyard, along with the arches of the son cemaat, is impressive. In contrast to the mass of the rising mosque, the top of the columns, which are made almost immaterial with muqarnas placed on relatively squat columns carry delicate, yet wide high arches; on this are set domes that rest on octagonal hoops, which are almost invisible.”31

The interior of the mosque is very well lit, and significant in terms of its decoration; in fact, it has often been the subject for poetry and words of wisdom.

Üsküdar Atik Valide Sultan Complex

Üsküdârun nihâyet-i cânib-i cenûbîsinde bir makâm-ı mürtefi‘ üzre vâlide-i Sultân Murâd Hân-ı Sâlis -tâbe serâhâ- sene hams ve semânîn ve tis‘a-mi’ede iki minâre-i masnû‘a ve bir kubbe-i matbû‘a ile bir câmî‘-i müzeyyen ve dilgüşâ ve ma‘bed-i müretteb ve safâ-efzâ ve bu câmi‘ün cânib-i şarkîsinde hücerât-ı müte‘addideyi müşte00mîl sulehâ-i ehl-i İslâm içün bir savma‘a-i zîbâ ve bu câmi‘ün cânib-i şimâlisinde müdârese-i ‘ulûm ve müzâkere-i fünûn içun bir medrese-i ‘ulyâ ve câmi‘ün cânib-i garbîsinde bir matbah-ı ta‘âm ve misâfirîn içün bir dârü’z-ziyâfe ve iki ribât-ı ‘âlî binâ itmişdür ve mumâileyhânun bu ebniye-i hayrâtınun mevâzi‘-i ve mevâzi‘ün havâlîsi kable’l-binâ arz-ı hâliye olup, bu ebniye-i hayrât takrîbi ile havâlisinde halk-ı kesîr dûr ve menâzil ittihâz itmegin medîne-i Üsküdârun sevâdı mikdârda zâ‘f olmadı ise ziyâde-i sülüs ile mütefâvit olmışdur (Âşık Mehmed, Menâzirü’l-avâlim).32

(On an elevated site at the souther limits of Üsküdar, the mother of Sultan Murad Han the Third - may she rest in peace- built in the year 985 (1577-78) a decorated, well ordered, joy giving and pleasure-increasing mosque with two artistic minarets and an agreeable dome. And she built at the east side of this mosque an elegant dervish convent (savma‘a) encompassing many rooms for pious Muslims, and at the north side of the mosque a lofty madrasa for the study of the sciences, and at the west side of the mosque a kitchen-cum-refectory for guests with two lofty stables [caravansaray]. Before the abovementioned lady established these charitable buildings, their site and environs had been vacant plots. With the construction of new housing, they attracted around them a large population, and they augmented Üsküdar’s inhabited region by at least one-third.)

17- Şehzade Complex

Valide Nurbanu Sultan, the third woman bâni (patron) after Haseki Hürrem Sultan and Mihrimah Sultan, built great waqfs in Istanbul during the last quarter of the sixteenth century. Nurbanu Sultan was the first woman to become famous with the title of Valide Sultan, was the wife of Selim II, and the daughter-in-law of Hürrem Sultan. The foundations of the külliye in Üsküdar, of which Nurbanu Sultan was the patroness, were laid in 1571 when she married Selim II with a mihr-i muaccel of 110,000 dukak. The külliye was completed during the reign of her son Murad III (1586). The külliye was built during the period when Mimar Sinan was chief architect. Just like Haseki Külliyesi (started in 1538-1539 and completed in 1540, darüşşifa 1550-1551) built in Avratpazarı, this külliye was also built in a nonresidential district and undeveloped place, which was located on the outskirts of Üsküdar (Toptaşı). Atik Valide Külliyesi played a vital role in the development of the surrounding area. According to the vakfiye, which was officially registered after the death of Nurbanu Sultan, but which was written in 1582, the külliye consisted of the following: A mosque, a madrasa, a mektep, a darülkurra, a darülhadis, an imaret (including a kitchen, dining hall, tabhane, warehouse, woodshed, double inn), a dervish’s zaviye, and a darüşşifa.33

18- Şehzade Mosque

The construction of the mosque started in 1571, and probably completed in 985 (1577-1578). According to the inscription on the fountain, whose construction the bina emini, Hasan Çavuş, had ordered on the wall of the entrance side, we can understand that the imaret began to be constructed before 1579, during the same time at which the mosque was completed. It is likely that the darüşşifa, madrasa and zaviye were completed later.34 An income-generating hamam is mentioned as standing next to the külliye in 1574. It is known that after the death of Nurbanu Sultan (1583), Mimar Sinan was commissioned to construct income-generating hamams for the Valide Sultan Vakfı. Mimar Sinan went on to build one hamam in Çemberlitaş and two on the coast of Üsküdar (992 [1584-1585]). Moreover, other income-generating structures were also built around the külliye. Among these were an inn, a wax workshop, a slaughter house, a debbağhaneler, stores and rooms for married couples.35

Shortly after the construction of the mosque, which was part of Atik Valide Külliyesi, again, during the era when Mimar Sinan was mimarbaşı, the enlargement that took place serves as a model that is of special importance in terms of the architectural history of Istanbul. On the orders of Murad III, between 1584 and 1586 spaces with domes were added to the two sides of the main area of the mosque and two-storied mahfils (galleries) were added in the interiors. A courtyard was also constructed outside. Preparations for these changes were initiated by Valide Nurbanu Sultan shortly before her death in 1583. According to Gülru Necipoğlu, the valide sultan’s rise from haseki sultan (favorite woman) to valide sultan (queen mother) was the reason for the gradual development of the fifteen-year construction process. Necipoğlu’s comments on this issue are as follow:

19- Şehzade Mosque

“The construction of Nurbanu’s mosque can be divided into three stages. The first stage, between 1571 and 1574, celebrating her newly earned status as Selim II’s legal wife, overlapped with the construction of the princely mosque built by her son in Manisa (1571-74). The queen’s mosque was designed by Sinan but executed by another royal architect in the course of Sinan’s extended absence in Edirne, where he was busy building the Selimiye (1568-74). The second stage, between 1574 and 1577-78, when Sinan had returned to Istanbul, corresponded to Nurbanu’s augmented statusas queen mother. The initial plan of the mosque must have been modified at that time with the addition of a second single-galleried minaret and the extension of its five-bay portico with an outer portico.”36

Construction activities under the powerful women of the dynasty in the sixteenth century hold an important position in the urban development of Istanbul. Haseki (started 1538-1539 – finished1540) and Atik Valide (1571-1586) külliyes were built in unpopulated districts that had almost no residential areas, like the hillsides of Avratpazarı and Üsküdar. It is likely that after their construction, people were drawn to these places, thus leading to more houses being built in their vicinity. The wide-ranging plans of the parts of these two külliyes is an indicator of the loose residential districts that surrounded them. In this respect, it is possible to say that the roles of the külliyes in establishing neighborhoods in several territories of the Ottoman State, something that has been recognized since ancient times, continued to have an effect in Istanbul, even playing a role in establishing districts in Istanbul.

20- Süleymaniye Complex

As for the Mihrimah Sultan külliyes in Üsküdar (started 1543-1544 - finished 1548) and Edirnekapı (second building permission granted 1563 - vakfiye dated 1570), these buildings were in more built-up places when compared to the two külliyes mentioned above. Edirnekapı Mihrimah Sultan Külliyesi with 66 shops was located in a very populated district, near the gates in the Istanbul walls . The tabhane, imaret and inns that were part of the functional program of the Üsküdar Mihrimah Sultan Külliyesi, are no longer standing today. Even though demonstrating a similar disposition to the Haseki and Atik Valide külliyes, this structure did not play a similar role. The coast of Üsküdar was a relatively more prosperous area than the hillsides of Avratpazarı and Üsküdar, at least in terms of commercial activities. The fact that Mihrimah Sultan Külliyesi was built here, an area in which commercial activities were already taking place, can be explained by the role of the building in reviving and re-defining the area, as happened in Edirnekapı. In conclusion, these four külliyes, constructed by patrons, took on missions of constructing, reviving and re-defining Istanbul’s urban areas.

A Building that was a Mark of Heaven for a Son: Şehzade Complex

Zihî ‘âlî binâ-yı cennetâsâ/Havâsı cân-fezâ, âbı musaffâ; Olup makbûl-i ‘âlem câmi’-i hûb/Huzûr-ı Şeh’de düşdi haylî mergâb (Sâî Mustafa Çelebi, Tezkiretü’l-bünyân).37

How could a lofty paradise-like building/gives birth with its air and water. Everybody liked this beautiful mosque/it received compliments even in the presence of the sultan.

Şehzade Mosque (1543-1548), which is situated in a location that can be considered more “valuable” and whose dimensions are greater than those of the mosque that Sultan Süleyman I had built for Yavuz Sultan Selim, demonstrates a new understanding of architectural features; this was the second of the “sultans’ buildings” in the sixteenth century. However, this mosque was named after Sultan Süleyman I’s son, Şehzade (prince) Mehmed, who died in the autumn of 1543. This example is a first in the Ottoman State, and the only example of such greatness.

The tradition of Istanbul’s sultans constructing a selatin (sultan’s) mosque began in the fifteenth century with Fatih Mosque (1463-1471), continuing with Beyazıt Mosque (1500-1505), and Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque (1520-1522). Thus, while as a natural gradation Süleymaniye Mosque (1550-1557) was expected to be built, why did the sultan have built for a prince the Şehzade Mosque (1543-1548), which would later become one of the most important structures of Ottoman Istanbul? The accounts of this matter vary. It is said that Sultan Süleyman I ordered this mosque to be built in his own name, but, upon the death of his son, he declared it should be named after his son. It is also said that he ordered its construction as a sign of his love for his son, Mehmed, whom he had wanted to be his successor. The historian Peçevî favors the first opinion while Gelibolulu Mustafa Âli defends the second.

For whatever reason, according to Tezkiretü’l-bünyân the construction of this important mosque started in June, 1543 and the first prayer was performed here in August, 1548. Now, Şehzade Mosque exists as a monumental structure standing between Hagia Sophia and Fatih Mosque. This külliye consists of the following components: mosque, madrasa, tabhanes, caravanserai and stable, imaret, sıbyan mektebi and the tomb of Şehzade Mehmed. There are five more tombs, of miscellaneous dimensions, next to the prince’s tomb; these were built later and include the tomb of Rüstem Pasha (969 [1561-1562]), the tomb of Şehzade Mahmud(d. 1603), the tomb of the sheikh al-Islam Bostanzade Mehmet (d. 1598), the tomb of İbrahim Pasha (1603) and the tomb of Fatma Sultan (997 [1588-1589]).

The mosque is important in terms of being the first example to have such an architectural plan and upper roofing system; this would be copied in the great mosques of the seventeenth century, such as Sultanahmet Mosque and Eminönü Valide Mosque. Cansever speculated that “the main point of the design in Şehzade was the relation between two central contrary components, that is, not the resolution present in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries of joining the cubic substructure and the dome; in comparison the roofing system, which consisted of semi-domes, located around the central single dome; these faced in different directions. There were domes of different dimensions covering special points of the structure, marking the important components of the structure and its corners, as well as the substructure that it carried.”38 He adds: “The most distinguished feature of Şehzade Mosque is that it has this system of domes made up of rich cultural forms, which had not been seen in Ottoman structures before Sinan, and not even in the early works of Sinan.39

Şehzade Mosque is an extremely important example, especially in terms of its inner and outer decorations. Stefanos Yerasimos attributed these elaborate facades to the Iranian masters and Timurid design. According to Turgut Cansever, however, it is possible to correlate the decoration of the façade with Mamluk Cairo; thus, it is possible to conclude that Mimar Sinan had been on a military expedition to Egypt. These decorations may have arisen from such exposure and any studies carried out by Sinan in this country. These two comments allow us to correlate the ornaments of Şehzade Mosque with two important political events in the first quarter of the sixteenth century. Sultan Yavuz Selim’s military expedition to Egypt and Sultan Süleyman I’s military expedition to Iran did not have only political results, these events were reflected in art and architecture as well. The Ottomans, who had been constructing buildings in Istanbul since the reign of Sultan Mehmed II, adorned it with the Şehzade Mosque, thus incorporating Egyptian and Iranian influences. The pursuit of, or the idea of, making a new composition led to Süleymaniye and Selimiye, and was improved through interactions and infuences from different lands.

Süleymaniye Complex that “How many arts become apparent on it” (Ne San‘atlar Olupdur Anda Zâhir)

Buyurdı ol şeh-i ferhunde-tâli‘/Yapan gendülere bir hûb câmi‘; O dem tarh eyleyüp Eski Sarây’ı/Süleymâniyye’ye urdum binâyı; Bilur ehl-i hünerler evvel âhir/Ne san’atlar olupdur anda zâhir (Sâî Mustafa Çelebi, Tezkiretü’l-Bünyan)40

(This fortunate sultan said/I shall build a nice mosque for them. Upon organizing the Old Palace immediately/I laid the foundations of Süleymaniye. Skilfull tailors know/What subtleties are demonstrated there.)

The above quote from Sâî Mustafa Çelebi tells us that Sultan Süleyman I and Sinan made Süleymaniye the most important külliye in Istanbul, owing to its location, the most important mosque in the Islamic world because of its landscaping and educational aspects and the most important structure in the world due to stylistic choices. All of these aspects came into existence through constructional activities. “Glorious arts” are implicit in all the structures’ components, from the mosque to the madrasa, from the tomb to the hamam, from the court to the fountain, from the minaret to the columns, from the domes to the walls, from the windows to the arches, from the door to the mihrab (altar), from the minber (pulpit) to the mahfil (balcony), from the stonemasonary to the woodworking, from the column heads to the muqarnas, from the ceramics to the mother-of-pearl inlay, from the inscriptions to the calligraphy. It is possible to say that this structure was an accumulation of all the art and architectural heritage that the Ottomans had achieved in Istanbul by the 1550s, making this heritage “evident.” The new skills were brought to the fore and emerged in this structure. In an environment in which the infinite exterior meets with the interior, arches of different dimensions situated in different directions, the decorations on the domes, the neutral structure and tranquility of balance reformulated by each aspect with directions in style that had come about under the influence of the system of relative measurement, determining the relationship between the components constituted peacefullness in the architecture of the structure.”41

The külliye, which was completed nine years after construction began, had to undergo several stages of construction. These stages consisted of the construction of the mosque, the darülhadis, the darülkurra, four madrasas (evvel, sani, salis, rabi), a medical madrasa, a darüşşifa, an imaret, a tabhane, a sıbyan mektebi, the tomb of Sultan Süleyman I, the tomb of Hürrem Sultan, the tomb of Mimar Sinan, a hamam and a fountain. This structure was one of the largest külliye programs produced to this date in the Muslim world.

The Old Palace, a legacy from the reign of Sultan Mehmed II, gave up its place to Süleymaniye in a perceptual and a physical sense, thus Süleymaniye became the most distinguished component of the Istanbul silhouette. “In order to make the mosque impressive when seen from different parts of the city, Sinan situated the evvel and sani madrasas and the medical madrasa on an esplanade between the mosque and the environs; the darüşşifa, imaret and tabhane were located on higher ground, on a hill that opened westward, the salis and rabi madrasas stood across the line of shops that were beneath the great platform that supported the mosque. These were located on the terrain that rapidly went down towards the Golden Horn. The line of shops at the end of the road below the platform, which started from the north corner of the wall of the mosque, across from the tomb of Sinan, constituted the courtyard that was across from the Medrese-i Rabi and the hamam; there was a retaining wall here as well. The darülhadis was situated so as to face the triangular square, elevated to the level of cemetery (hazire) , which was located on the side of the mosque’s qibla wall. The darülhadis, which consisted of a line of classrooms, was created to define the architecture of the square; it was on the same level as the square, and was surrounded by the hazire wall of the tombs of Sultan Süleyman and Hürrem Sultan, important units of the külliye. This demonstrates the special importance given to the darülhadis.”42

Before Süleymaniye, Hagia Sophia, another building in Istanbul, was one of the most important architectural structures in the world. There are many views claiming that Mimar Sinan was trying to compete with Hagia Sophia. These can be summarized as the following: Süleymaniye owes everything to Hagia Sophia and Sinan copied the roofing system; Süleymaniye owes nothing to Hagia Sophia, rather there are other structures that influenced him; Sinan studied Hagia Sophia, and he came up with a new composition… A lenthy discussion given by Turgut Cansever on this matter is useful in this matter:

“Sinan assessed the materials of Hagia Sophia with sensitivity that stemmed from a deep sense of history; instead of imitating them, he used them in Süleymaniye in keeping with his methodical solution that he had developed by improving the materials with reference to the tradition of Ottoman mosque architecture. It is known that such a simple issue of engineering, such as the fact that the central dome was supported with semi-domes from one, two, three or four sides, had been studied by Sinan, and also by many Ottoman architects prior to him. Sinan’s preference in Süleymaniye for a system of lengthwise domes and semi-domes supported by two semi-domes, as well as his completion of this system as an arrangement integrated with large arches, which he placed on the two sides of the structure, and which carried the central dome, made it necessary for Süleymaniye to put in its location. In Hagia Sophia, however, we see that the large arches - which hide by being squeezed, between the thick feet that support the dome by rising up to the level of the dome frame on the two lateral façades – reveal a static expression, not one of progression.”43

Süleymaniye was a beginning for Sinan to glorify Hagia Sophia and to overcome the early building’s deficiencies. Although, the interior of Hagia Sophia progresses lengthwise the outer architectural structure consists of elements that do not support this lengthwise character of the inner structure. Despite the fact that the building is located on the edge of the peninsula, progressing towards the east, Hagia Sophia has architectural weaknesses and an architectural structure that does not cohere with its environment. In order to eliminate these deficiencies, Ottoman architects were invited from Edirne in the early sixteenth century; they consolidated Hagia Sophia with a retaining wall and as a result, it has survived until the present day due to the buttresses built by Sinan.”44

No doubt, there is many things to say about Süleymaniye Külliyesi.45

Notes from the Other Istanbul of the Gentlemen and Sinan

21- İsmihan Sultan – Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Compex in Eyüp

At the end of the sixteenth century, in addition to Hagia Sophia and Topkapı Palace, the buildings that determined public works and development in Istanbul were nine külliyes built by members of the dynasty: these were (chronologically) Fatih, Beyazıt, Yavuz, Haseki, Üsküdar Mihrimah Sultan, Şehzade, Süleymaniye, Edirnekapı Mihrimah Sultan and Atik Valide. In addition, the two külliyes built for public services and housing outside the walls, also dating to the reign of Sultan Mehmed II, which were outside the walls, and the two külliyes inside the walls, can be included in the period that dated from the conquest to the construction of Haseki Külliyesi (1453-1538). The first külliye (mosque, madrasa, tabhane, tomb, hamam) that the Ottomans built outside of the walls was Eyüp Sultan Külliyesi (the location was identified between 1456 and 1457); the second was Üsküdar Mahmut Paşa İmareti (861 [1459-1463]). The Aksaray Has Murat Paşa Külliyesi and Şeyh Vefa Külliyesi (1476) in Vefa, the determiners for Aksaray and Vefa, were külliyes that were in the city walls.

22- Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Mosque in Kadırga

The eleven mosques and/or külliyes built between the 1550s and the 1580s were complementary ornaments of sixteenth-century Istanbul. According to the chronological order, the “ornaments” in question were these following: Silivrikapı Hadım İbrahim Paşa Mosque (1551) and Tomb; Beşiktaş Sinan Paşa Külliyesi (started 1554 – finished 1555-1556); Tahtakale Rüstem Paşa Mosque (started 1561 – finished 1563); Topkapı Kara Ahmet Paşa Külliyesi (first construction in different place started 1555, second construction started 1565 – finished 1571-1572); Kasımpaşa Piyale Paşa Külliyesi and Tomb (started 1565 – finished 1573); Eyüp İsmihan Sultan and Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Külliyesi (started 1568-1569 – finished 1573); Kadırga Limanı (behind the Hippodrome) Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Külliyesi (started 1567-1568 – finished 1571-1572, zaviye 1574); Azapkapı Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Mosque (started 1573 – finished 1577-1578); Eyüp Zal Mahmud Paşa Külliyesi (started 1577 – finished 1590); Tophane Kılıç Ali Paşa Külliyesi (started 1578 – finished 1580-1581); and Üsküdar Şemsi Paşa Külliyesi (1580-1581).

In addition to these complexes, the three humble külliyes of Şah Sultan should also be mentioned. The three külliyes of Şah Sultan (Davutpaşa, Eyüp and outside of Yenikapı – none of which have survived until today), the sister of Sultan Süleyman I, the wife of Grand Vizier Lütfi Pasha (1539), and a follower of the Halvetî-Sünbülî tariqat are among the humble examples of commitment, prosperity and charity. The first külliye was built in Davutpaşa next to the palace in which Şah Sultan lived; it consisted of a mosque (1528) and a zaviye (1534-1535). The mosque and zaviye complex that were built in the garden palace in Eyüp (1537), would later would be converted into a mosque (started 1555 - finished 1556), as well as the one built outside Yenikapı and the renovation of the Merkez Efendi mosque, which consisted of a mosque and zaviye (1552), are among the other two külliyes.46

23- Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Compex in Kadırga

It is of special importance to mention the structures built in Istanbul by the daughters of Prince Selim, İsmihan Sultan (b. 1544-d. 1585) and Şah Sultan (b. 1545-d. 1577), as well as their husbands, the celebrated grand viziers Sokullu Mehmed Pasha (d. 1579) and Zal Mahmud Pasha (d. 1577), respectively. Eyüp İsmihan Sultan-Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Külliyesi and by Sokullu Mehmed Paşa Külliyesi at Kadırga Limanı (behind the Hippodrome) were built by İsmihan Sultan and her husband Sokullu Mehmed Pasha. The Eyüp Zal Mahmud Paşa Külliyesi was built by Şah Sultan and her husband Zal Mahmud Pasha, with a joint patronage. These two are the last külliyes in which members of the dynasty played roles, and which are important in sixteenth-century Istanbul, due to many characteristics. Moreover, the Tahtakale Rüstem Paşa Mosque, built with the patronage of Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasha, and the Azapkapı Sokullu Mehmed Paşa Mosque are two of the most important mosques of Istanbul, due to their location and architectural features.

These five complexes were also built by Mimar Sinan. Except for Rüstem Paşa Mosque, the other four complexes were built in the 1570s, and they can be considered among the last structures of the period that Sinan dominated.

Eyüp İsmihan Sultan-Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Complex and Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Complex at Kadırga Limanı (Behind Hippodrome),

As it can be understood from the vakfiyes and inscriptions on the buildings of İsmihan Sultan (Endownment deed, vakfiye: 1573) and Sokullu Mehmed Paşa (Endownment deed: 1574), the külliye established by the couple in Eyüp included a tomb (1568-1569) for six children, a madrasa (1568-1569) built next to it, and a darülkurra (1579). In the vakfiye of İsmihan Sultan, the madrasa was described in the following way: “Medrese-i şerîfe-i bedi‘atü’l-âsâr ve ‘acîbetü’l-etvâr.”47 (The noble madrasa of rare arts and wondrous manners) As pointed out in the vakfiye, the general setup of this madrasa and külliye, which did not include a mosque, is quite interesting compared to previous examples. In addition, this diverges from the traditional külliye, hence presenting a new situation. The tomb, the classroom of the madrasa, a tall and narrow madrasa court, and porticoes with domes on both of the tall sides of the court, as well as the madrasa hücres were all arranged in a line. No hücre is situated on the shorter side of the madrasa. There is a transition between the tomb that is located on the crest of the külliye and the madrasa classroom, which is covered with a large dome. The tomb is a very exuberant example of a “classical period tomb.” Stefanos Yerasimos states that this külliye setup (tomb and madrasa) was imitated many times by Davud Agha, who was the mimarbaşı after Sinan; Yerasimos states that thus this structure constituted a prototype, in a way.48

24- Zal Mehmet Paşa Complex

The madrasa in Eyüp (started 1568 – finished 1569), which was recorded in the vakfiye of Sokullu Mehmed Pasha, and the mosque in Kadırga Limanı were both registered in the vakfiye of İsmihan Sultan; İsmihan Sultan gave the former building to her husband as a gift (1573). Kadırga Limanı Külliyesi consisted of a mosque (finished 1571-1572), a madrasa, six stores under the madrasa, a zaviye (1574), four shops under the zaviye and a water reservoir facing the street.49 The space under the madrasa and zaviye, created by differences in the külliye’s elevation, which was built on a slope facing the street, was put to use as income-generating shops. The mosque had one minaret, and its roofing system was in the form of a hexagonal domed canopy. This was one of the most important mosques built by Sinan. It had four small semi-domes under the main dome. The zaviye was located to the south of the mosque, and the madrasa was to the north. Both the madrasa and the zaviya were not covered by domes. This leads one to think that the roofs of the porticoes and the hücres were flattened in order to make the mosque as prominent as possible. The zaviye is a pleasant structure with an asymmetric plan and roofing system, which sits well on the building site. Turgut Cansever’s comments on this complex are the following:

25- Rüstem Paşa Complex

“At the entrance to the mosque, the middle axis of the portico, which has pointed arches carried by high columns, was made a little wider than the spaces to the right or left, and the dome over the axis rested on a base that was slightly higher than the cornice of the arches. In contrast to the porticoes of the madrasa, the domes over the porticoes were placed on individual bases, and the dome over the central entrance axis was placed at a higher level; this demonstrates a desire for the architectural units which make up the mosque to be distinguished individually.”

Eyüp Zal Mahmud Paşa Complex

The külliye built by Şah Sultan and her husband Grand Vizier Zal Mahmud Pasha in Eyüp is “a touching memento to their legendary love.”50 The couple died within two weeks of one another in 1577; they are both buried here, in this building that they jointly endowed. A brief parantheses is appropriate here: the grand vizier was given the name Zal due to the fact that he had strangled Şah Sultan’s uncle, Mustafa. When she was seventeen years old, Şah Sultan was married to the janissary agha, Çakırcıbaşı Hasan Agha, a man responsible for killing another crown prince. When her first husband died in 1574, Şah Sultan married Zal Mahmud Pasha, to whom she was married for four years. The historian Peçevî partially narrated the deaths of Şah Sultan and Zal Mahmud Pasha, transforming them into a legendary love story:

“Nakl olınur ki halîlesi olan Sultân ile bir günde hastalanurlar ve biribiriyle helâlleşüp kuçuşarak bir yerden teslîm-i rûh iderler. Bu mertebe değme bir zen ve şevhere vâki‘ olmamışdur; bunlarun kemâl-i muhabbetlerine haml olınmışdur.”51

(It is related that he became ill on the same day with his wife, the sultana, and that they both gave up their souls together after exchanging vows of mutual forgiveness and embracing each other. This was attributed to the perfection of their love, to such a degree that has not befallen any husband and wife.)

26- Rüstem Paşa Complex

The construction of the külliye began after the couple died, as they had requested. The külliye consisted of a mosque and double madrasa (Şah Sultan Medrese ve Zal Mahmud Paşa Medrese); the construction of the double madrasa began at the same time (1578-1579), as well as that of a tomb and a fountain (998 [1589-1590]). The construction of the külliye started during the era when Mimar Sinan was chief architect, and it was completed during the period of his successor Davud Agha, that is, after Sinan’s death in 1588.

The walls of the mosque were of an intertwined nature, in which rock and bricks were used together. The interior was well lit by the large number of windows, which were in a series that included three different types of designs. Some twentieth-century researchers, looking at the single-domed mosque, which consisted of a massive cubic shape, and the very different roofing, and the madrasas that were positioned asymmetrically in keeping with the uneven land, suggested that this structure was not created by Sinan. Some people mistook the date of construction due to the fact that Ayvansarayî misread the construction date on the fountain located in the külliye.52 The upper part of the külliye and similar interpretations have led modern researchers to mistakenly hypothesize that this structure was not in accordance with an imaginary stylistic style. They consistently fail to notice that this stylistic style is fictional. It can be seen that Turgut Cansever did not agree with some of the comments that result from the “taboo” domed system for the külliye, but rather arrives at a conclusion that is contrary to the norm, from the following systems:

First of all, the Zal Mahmud Paşa Mosque was built out of rock and brick, just like the Sinan Paşa Mosque. The mihrab wall of the Sinan Paşa Mosque and two side walls of Zal Mahmud Paşa Mosque were built with rectangular marble ribbed, and pointed pear-shaped reduced arches, positioned under a number of windows that had sharp, pear-shaped arches at eye level. The wide spaces given over to the round windows in both buildings demonstrate a commonality, thus demonstrating that these two structures were indeed works of Sinan. From both structures, it is possible to understand that the system of the dome or multiple domes was not considered to be very important in terms of their effect on urban and mosque exterior architecture.53

The main aim of Cansever’s comments about Mimar Sinan was to try to establish that Sinan was searching for a style of architecture that would enable tectonic elements to stand out in his architecture: The elements that constitute the architecture of Zal Mahmud Paşa Mosque appear to be distinctively separated from one another. Mimar Sinan separated the outer walls from the dome which covered the large, central space of the mosque, and included large arches, pendants and supports on the other three sides, thus bringing each one into special prominence, and giving each one its own “personality”.54

27- Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Mosque in Azapkapı

Two Sinan mosques that were built under the patronage of two powerful grand viziers in the sixteenth century (in the 1560s and 70s) occupy an important place in the architectural history of Istanbul: Tahtakale Rüstem Paşa and Azapkapı Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Mosques.

Tahtakale Rüstem Paşa Mosque

The patron of Tahtakale Rüstem Paşa Mosque was Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasha (d. 1561), the husband of Mihrimah Sultan; the mosque was built after the pasha’s death. Permission to build was given by Sultan Süleyman I in 1562. This structure took about a year to complete; however, the official procedures regarding the construction could not be completed until permission was given.55

The mosque presents a strong personality in terms of its location, and has a great effect on the skyline of the city. It was built in Tahtakale, a very densely populated district, which also had a bustling commercial center. When we look at the mosque today, it is possible to see that the buildings around it are almost adjacent. The neighboring buildings are Burmalı Han (Şeriat Court) to the south, the lesser and greater Çukur Hans to the east, and a line of shops to the north and west. When seen from the Golden Horn, Süleymaniye Mosque stands on the upper elevation in its full glory. By placing the humble, one domed mosque away from this crowded place two difficult situations were avoided. The people were given relief in the midst of a crowd, and the mosque could make its presence felt, while still respecting Süleymaniye.

In terms of the tiles used in the interior and the design of the interior, the mosque is regarded as one of the most valuable structures in Ottoman history:

One of the constant principles of Ottoman architecture is how all the materials in a structure exist without taking away anything from the “personality”. It should not be forgotten that the architecture of Rüstem Paşa Mosque continues to exist in harmony with people. It is a product of the will of Ottoman art – whose the technical elements of the structures are decorated with tiles thus answering the problems of human beings in their spiritual and moral realms. From a distance, this type of work maintains integrity between the shifting and changing structures of the decoration, such as tiles, hand-drawn decorations and fabric. When one approaches, it is possible to understand that all the components are independent of one another, with clear boundaries. It is clear to see that these elements transfer glory and grace to the unity of which they are part.56

28- Sinan Paşa Mosque in Beşiktaş

Turgut Cansever underlines the special importance of the structure as follows:

“The plan of the Rüstem Paşa Mosque, with its eight bases carrying the central, corner arch and the square plan of the base for the octagonal dome appear for the first time with this building by Sinan. From this aspect, the building can be seen to be a study for the Edirne Sultan Selim Mosque and an attempt to find solutions for these problems.”57

The double portico, that is one domed and one roofed structure, is located to the north of the mosque; the fact that these structures are adjacent to one another makes it as if it is saluting its counterpart on the shore of the Bosphorus, in Üsküdar, Mihrimah Sultan Mosque.

The mosque, once again, reveals the importance Sinan attached to the relationship between the environment and architecture. There are two stairs placed on the two corners of the patio that leads to the son cemaat (late comers) space. The son cemaat space is covered with eaves, which is supported by two lines of columns. This wide fringe, along with the boundary wall of the patio, protect the son cemaat space from the heat of the western sun, and opens up a broad view towards Süleymaniye, the Golden Horn and Galata, overlooking the domes and vaults of the mosques and hamams that reach as far as the son cemaat. The entrance to the mosque is through the main door, which is located in the center of the arches which are supported by column heads with muqarnas in the son cemaat space. Just like in Üsküdar Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, this door provides a rich panorama from beneath the eaves of the wide son cemaat space for those who are leaving the mosque, as they stand above the noise of daily life.58

29- Kılıç Ali Paşa Complex

Azapkapı Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Mosque and Other Mosques/Külliyes Patronized by Kaptanıderyas

After the considerable architectural activity in the capital, the city took on a character of being a city with large külliyes; the mosque in Azapkapı (started 1573 – finished 1577-1578) was constructed next to the state-owned shipyard in Kasımpaşa by the former kaptanıderya (admiral) and new grand vizier. “This design was chosen to create a balance, responding to the grave nature of the monuments that beautify the south cost of the Golden Horn, creating a small focal point from the opposite shore. This design choice is similar to the construction of Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Mosque near Kadırga Port on the southern Marmara coast. It was erected to contribute to the architectural texture of the peninsula, which included structures like Murat Paşa, Davut Paşa and Koca Mustafa Paşa mosques, all constructed during the reign of Sultan Mehmed II.”59

The mosque, which was constructed on an octagonal structure, is similar to other important mosques, like Tahtakale Rüstem Paşa Mosque and Edirne Selimiye Mosque. The walls were not constructed in the mosque carrying system, but rather the main dome is held up by columns. This is a matter that people who are not experts in this subject have difficulty in understanding. This, according to Cansever, is the most important matter in Ottoman architectural history and in understanding Sinan. Cansever, who draws attention to the clear independence between the components of the structure, underlines the importance of this matter in his own unique way:

“Malamatiyya, which supports the belief that human beings are accountable only to themselves, gained momentum in the second half of the sixteenth century, and eventually became an anarchist social movement. As a result, it was harshly quashed by the central authorities. This inspired Sinan, and produced the idea that independent architectural components form a unity; this philosophy cannot be dissociated from these developments, nor from the religious, mystical and political controversies of the era; indeed, they can be perceived to be reflections of these clashes.”60

30- Piyale Paşa Complex

After discussing the mosque built by the former kaptanıderya (grand admiral), Sokullu Mehmed Pasha, which stood next to the shipyard, it would be appropriate to touch upon mosques/külliye constructed by other kaptanıderyas; these too were built on the coast. The locations of the three külliyes built on the shore in Beşiktaş, Kasımpaşa and Tophane, in the 1550s, 1560s and 1570s, respectively, have direct links with the occupation of going to sea. The mosque in Beşiktaş is similar to Edirne Üç Şerefeli Mosque, the mosque in Kasımpaşa to grand mosques with several domes, and the mosque in Tophane to Hagia Sophia. These three mosques have a plan that widens. The reason for this can be attributed to the fact that these spaces allowed sailors to perform prayer in congregation, and to house a large congregation prior to a military expedition. 61 Moreover, all three mosques have large outer courts. Kasımpaşa and Tophane mosques also have side galleries. Sinan’s different approach to form and structure in these three mosques seems to be important, and was probably the result not only of the aforementioned reasons, but also due to his own interests.

The first of these külliyes is Beşiktaş Sinan Paşa Külliyesi (started 1554 – finsihed 1555-1556), the patron of which was Sinan Pasha (d. 1554). Sinan Pasha was the brother of Rüstem Paşa, the celebrated grand vizier who served during the reign of Sultan Süleyman I, and was also the successor to Kaptanıderya Sokullu Mehmed Pasha. The külliye was completed after the death of Sinan Pasha. The külliye consisted of a mosque, madrasa and a sıbyan mektebi. Fifty shops, forty rented rooms, one bakery and a butcher were built at this time around the külliye.62 Immediately adjacent is the tomb of Barbaros Hayrettin Pasha (d. 1546 tomb built in 948 (1541-1542)), the head of Ottoman sailors; this was one of the earliest structures to be built by Sinan.

31- Hadım İbrahim Paşa Mosque in Silivrikapı

The structure system of the mosque, which was placed on a hexagonal frame, with stone-brick intertwined walls, displays styles that Sinan would use at later dates.

“An important feature of Sinan Paşa Mosque is that the central dome was placed on a hexagonal frame; the right and left sides of the mosque, which were widened towards the sides, were covered with two domes each. The plan was similar to Üç Şerefeli Mosque. As in İbrahim Paşa Mosque, the outer wall of Sinan Paşa Mosque consists of lines of rock and brick. The façade that faces the water of the latter mosque, which was higher than the walls of Edirne Üç Şerefeli Mosque, was made with white, rectangular pieces of marble on the ground level, and a series of windows topped by sharp pear-shaped arches. Later, Sinan would apply this in the Zal Mahmut Paşa Mosque as well. There was yet another series of windows with high and sharp pear-shaped arches above the large series of windows on the ground level, where there was again a configuration combining rock and brick. There were oval windows on two sides, and a central dome axis; above the mihrap were aditional windows, which once again is topped by a sharp, pear-shaped arch. The contrast between the series of windows which were a vertical expression and the horizontal rock-brick wall is a feature that we often encounter in Sinan’s architecture, and is a reflection of the Islamic principle that “everything exists along with its opposite.”63

32- Şemsipaşa Complex

The third of the kaptanıderya külliyes is Kasımpaşa Piyale Paşa Külliyesi (1565-1573), built by the successor to Sinan Pasha, Piyale Mehmed Pasha (d. 1578), who was married to Gevherhan Sultan, the daughter of Prince Selim. The külliye consists of a mosque, madrasa, tomb, zaviye, sıbyan mektebi, hamam and market place.64 The lower level of the mosque is modeled on the ulu cami (grand mosque) style, with equal domes. When it comes to whether this was built by Mimar Sinan, this is the most controversial mosque, due to its formal style. Turgut Cansever has no doubt that the main features of the mosque, built during the latter part of the construction of Edirne Selimiye Mosque, displayed Sinan’s unique style.65 According to Cansever: “Sinan, produced a mosque, with a new soul and approach, giving it space that grew in width, covered by traditional arches and equal domes again. This was Sinan’s newest contribution to mosques with levels, and it had only two cylindrical columns located in the center of the mosque supporting the six domes. With this innovation, Sinan overcame the problem that arose when large levels made it difficult for people to see the imam during the prayer.”66

The third and the last kaptanıderya külliyesi is Tophane Kılıç Ali Paşa Külliyesi (started 1578 - finished 1580-1581); the patron of this mosque was Kılıç Ali Pasha (d. 1587). The külliye included a mosque, madrasa, tomb and hamam, each of which was geometrically perfect, particularly when compared to some other külliyes built by Sinan. The pasha donated eight shops that were adjacent to the northern wall, eighteen shops adjacent to the southeastern and southern walls, forty-four shops in the immediate vicinity, fifty upper rooms, seven vaults, one blast furnace, two slaughter houses, seventeen shops across from the artillery barracks and many other properties that would generate income.67

This is the mosque that has puzzled researchers the most, leading them to comment on it due to its plan and roofing system, which resembles Hagia Sophia, much like Süleymaniye Mosque. Some attribute this application to the personal preference of the patron Kılıç Ali Pasha, while others put it down to Sinan’s admiration of Hagia Sophia. Some other researches even claim that Sinan could not have built this mosque after having constructed a central domed-space mosque like Selimiye; rather they claim that it was built by one of Sinan’s assistants.68 Turgut Cansever does not agree with those who say that the mosque resembles Hagia Sophia:

“The first impression from a superficial analysis of the plans, due to the central dome being supported by two semi-domes along the center line of the mihrap, could lead one to think that the structure advances lengthwise, like Hagia Sophia. However, as is immediately noticeable when one enters the building. However, when one enters the building, it is immediately noticeable that the arches supported by the bases, and the three large arches over the women’s gallery, which is positioned over the windows on the ground-floor side facades, are placed at different angles from one another; this is a characteristic of the rich Ottoman style, giving movement in two different directions. This structure, which is beyond artistic success, while protecting the main lines of the covering of Hagia Sophia, which gained a new characteristic in Sinan’s hands in Süleymaniye, has created a new “local” value, creating an example of a new architectural solution that avoids repeating the errors inherent in the earlier structure. With this structure from the later period, Sinan demonstrates how universal Islamic truths can be transferred into practice at different times and in different regions, under changing actual and local factors, provided that Islamic principles which determine architecture remain unchanged.”69

33- Mesih Mehmet Paşa Mosque

Other Complexes Built by Sinan

Having mentioned the kaptanıderya külliyes, here two more important buildings of Sinan, built in the middle of the sixteenth century in Istanbul, will be mentioned; we will go back chronologically. The first of these is Silivrikapı Hadım İbrahim Paşa Mosque (1551), and the other is Topkapı Kara Ahmet Paşa Külliyesi (the first construction was in a different location and was started in 1555, the second construction was started 1565 and finished in 1571-1572).

Hadım İbrahim Paşa Mosque

The Hadım İbrahim Paşa Mosque is a small mosque, and resembes the Edirne Beyazıt Mosque and Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque:

“…with a single dome on a cubic base, this structure sustains the plain architecture of mosques belonging to the second half of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, like Edirne Beyazıt, Sultan Selim (Istanbul), and Firuz Ağa (Istanbul). İbrahim Paşa Mosque distinguishes itself from these other mosques with a vertical, vibrant and lively expression that is formed by its innovative size, the dome that sits on a higher base, the rock and brick wall, the tall, sharp, pear-shaped window bays for the long windows and the rising hollows of the pear-shaped arches located in the son cemaat space. The closeness to the characteristic of this mosque and Selimiye, with its single dome is an indication of the unity of Sinan’s artistic approach.70

34- Nişancı Mehmet Paşa Mosque (in Karagümrük)

Kara Ahmet Paşa Complex

Kara Ahmed Pasha, who became the grand vizier after Rüstem Pasha (who was discharged in 1553), was most likely appointed due to his animosity for Rüstem Pasha; he was married to Yavuz Sultan Selim’s daughter, Fatma Sultan. His külliye was built after his death on his bequest. The story of the construction of the külliye is quite interesting. The construction, which started around Edirnekapı in 1555, was halted with an imperial edict on the request of Mihrimah Sultan, the daughter of Sultan Süleyman I and wife of Rüstem Pasha. The construction of Mihrimah Sultan’s külliye took place after this. It was only after ten years later that the waqf executives were able to start construction of another külliye in a different area.71 The külliye consisted of a mosque, madrasa, tomb and sıbyan mektebi. With a dome resting on a hexagonal canopy and side naves (sahıns), Kara Ahmet Paşa Mosque is similar to Beşiktaş Sinan Paşa Mosque. The madrasa consists of cells that are lined up perfectly, making a U along the large domed and arched courtyard.

35- Moğlova Aqueduct

Üsküdar Şemsi Paşa Complex

Üsküdar Şemsi Paşa Külliyesi (988 [1580-1581]), one of the structures from the final period of Sinan’s work, is an ornament in Istanbul. Albeit small, this is an important building, like a diamond in the city-scape. It was built by Şemsi Ahmed Pasha (d. 1580), the musahib of Murad III, and stands on the seafront, on almost completely flat land. We can compare this külliye with Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, built by Sinan thirty-five years earlier; the two mosques are close to one another. This is a very small mosque with single dome, an L-shaped madrasa, and a tomb adjacent to the southern wall of the mosque, the wall that reaches to the sea. “While the wall of the mihrab and the space covered by the three semi-domes depicts the line of the spiritual world [in] Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, we realize the boarder line that belonged to the material world on the other side which stretched to the sea. As for Şemsi Paşa Mosque, it is a design that embraces the Bosphorus (which lies next to it), and unifies the two – mosque and strait.”72

Two other structures, which were under construction at the time Sinan made the pilgrimage as an old man, deserve to be mentioned here.

Yenibahçe Mesih Paşa Complex

The patron of the külliye (permission granted 1584- finished 1585-1586) was Hadım Mesih Mehmed Pasha (d. 1589), the grand vizier for a very short period of time during the reign of Murad III. Hadım Mesih Mehmed Pasha decided to construct this building while serving as third vizier. The building permit for the construction of the mosque was granted on March 13, 1584. According to the edict granting permission, a waqf (Hasan Paşa Vakfı), to which the mosque was allocated, did not have adequate funds for the renovation of the mosque, and therefore it was decided that the building should be destroyed and a new külliye be built in its place.73 This incident is worth mentioning for understanding the history of architecture in Istanbul. Another incident also worthy of mention is concerned with the process of construction. The edicts that Sinan sent to his kaymakam Mehmed Subaşı during the construction of the mosque at this time coincides with the period when Sinan was on pilgrimage, thus illustrating that Mimar Mehmed Subaşı was in charge of construction.

36- Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia)

Karagümrük Nişancı Mehmet Paşa Complex

Karagümrük Nişancı Mehmet Paşa Külliyesi was built in the district of Fatih Karagümrük by Nişancı Mehmed Pasha (d. 1594), one of the viziers during the reign of Murad III. “Nişancı Mehmed Pasha was one of the few Muslim-born statesmen who rose from the post of nişancı to the post of vizier during the time of Mimar Sinan.”74 The construction of the mosque began in 992 (1583-1584) and finished in 997 (1588-1589). It was commonly accepted that this mosque was built by Sinan, but it is not mentioned in any of the Mimar Sinan tezkires. In fact, this is mentioned only in the Tuhfetü’l-mi‘mârîn. If we consider the fact that Sinan went to Mecca in 1584, and died in 1588, it is possible to say that the construction, which was carried out during Sinan’s final years, was initiated by Sinan and completed by Mimar Mehmed Subaşı and/or Davud Agha, or other assistant masters.75

Other than the mosques and külliyes, the minarets of Hagia Sophia, the waters of Kırkçeşme, the Moğlova Aqueduct and the Büyükçekmece Bridge are among the important structures that Sinan built in Istanbul. The first minaret of Hagia Sophia was added to the building during the reign of Sultan Mehmet II. The second was added during the reign of Yavuz Sultan Selim, and the last two – which were the work of Sinan - were added during the reign of Sultan Süleyman I. Moreover, the tombs for Sultan Süleyman I, the princes, Selim II, Zal Mahmud Pasha, Kılıç Ali Pasha and later on Murad III and Mehmed III are amongst the distinctive structures built by Sinan and his successors to be added to the history of architecture in Istanbul.76

After the construction of the structures mentioned above (along with those that I have not mentioned), it became quite difficult to find space in Istanbul to build mosques or külliyes; the city was quite prosperous by this time, in terms of architectural heritage. The fact that the külliyes were reduced in size, being constructed without mosques, something that started in the late sixteenth century, can be explained by this lack of space. This will further be explained in more detail and more examples will be given. There can be no doubt that the course of history in the sixteenth-century architecture in Istanbul was not limited to the aforementioned buildings, or public works, housing models mentioned thus far. Three additional architects of the era who created buildings in Istanbul as mimarbaşı after Sinan were Davud Agha, Dalgıç Ahmed Agha and Sedefkâr Mehmed Agha.

37- Cerrah Mehmet Paşa Mosque


Two Waterways in Istanbul, Two Başmimar: Davud bin Abdullah and Ahmed Agha (Dalgıç) bin Abdülmuin

Two architects, Davud Agha and Dalgıç Ahmed Agha, who learned the profession of architecture at the hands of Mimar Sinan at a time when the empire was the most prosperous and productive, became mimarbaşı. As to their professions prior to becoming mimarbaşı, both were waterway inspectors. When we consider the fact that Mehmed Agha, who succeeded them, was also a waterway inspector, it is possible to conclude that from the time of Sinan this position was a prerequisite for becoming mimarbaşı. Davud Agha was the waterway inspector from 1575 to 1588, when he became mimarbaşı. As for Dalgıç Ahmed Agha, he was also the waterway inspector from 1596 to 1598. Davud Agha and Dalgıç Ahmed Agha held the position of mimarbaşı for ten and eight years, respectively. These eighteen years covered the last seven years of Murad III, who was sultan for 21 years (1574-1595), the reign of Mehmed III, who reigned for seven years (1595-1603), and the first three years of Ahmed I’s reign (1603-1617). During this time, when economic and social problems of Istanbul began to become apparent, these architects did not have the same amenities available to them in terms of building new structures as Sinan did; the latter had a higher budget and other advantages. It can be said that the most prominent contribituions made by these two waterway inspectors and chief architects to Istanbul, in addition to the construction activities in which they participated while Sinan was still alive, were the two sultan tombs and small külliyes and madrasas with tombs for lesser statesmen. It can also be said that these two waterway inspectors constructed several fountains in Istanbul.

Davud bin Abdullah (d. 1598), who was the successor to mimarbaşı Sinan, was Dergâh-ı muallâ çavuşu and waterway inspector in 1575. In 1576, he was commissioned to renovate damaged aqueducts and bridges. Davud bin Abdullah’s name is mentioned in the inscription of Zülüflü Baltacılar Koğuşu in Topkapı Palace, which was built in 1578. Mimar Sinan was asked to appoint the “former waterway inspector” Davud bin Abdullah as the head of 400 master neccars; they were sent on an expedition to the East in 1583. In 1584, Davud bin Abdullah was one of the witnesses when the Bâbüssaâde agha, Mehmed Agha, purchased a house: “Dâvud Beğ ibni Abdü’l-mennân Çavuş-ı mi‘mârân.” For Murad III, this architect drew up water canal maps, which came to Topkapı Palace in 1584. The architect carried out an inspection of the water canal renovations in 1585 for Sultan Süleyman I. In 1586, Davud bin Abdullah built a mosque for the Bâbüssaâde agha, Mehmed Agha, in Çarşamba, Fatih. In 1587, Davud bin Abdullah was mentioned as Nâzır-ı râh-âb, and is listed as a witness to a menzil (stage), purchased by the kethüda of the Topkapı Palace harem, Canfeda Hatun. In 1588, Davud bin Abdullah started the construction of the arasta (rows of shops) at Edirne Selimiye Mosque, working as Mimarân-ı Hassa başı (chief imperial architect). In 1590, Davud bin Abdullah was busy with the construction of Manisa Muradiye Külliyesi. In 999 (1590-1591), he built the Sinan Paşa Pavilion, one of the coastal villas of Topkapı Palace. Davud bin Abdullah began the construction of Yalı Pavilion in 1591. In 1002 (1593-1594), Davud bin Abdullah carried out an inspection of the renovation of Mesih Paşa Waqf and built the Sinan Paşa Külliyesi. Davud bin Abdullah drew the plan of the tomb for Murad III, who died in 1595, and started the construction. From 1595 to 1597, Davud bin Abdullah conducted the estimates for renovations of various buildings belonging to the Hüseyin Ağa Waqf. In 1598, Davud bin Abdullah started the construction of Valide Sultan Mosque (Yeni Mosque in Eminönü) in 1598, but shortly after the groundbreaking, this architect died.77

38- Cerrah Mehmet Paşa Complex

The name of Mimarbaşı Davud Agha is mentioned in the inscription of Çarşamba Mehmet Ağa Külliyesi (1585), on the fountain inscription next to İncili Pavilion and the Sinan Paşa Pavilion (997 [1588-1589]); according to the information that the chronicler Selânikî provides his name was also found in the inscription on the fountain in Koca Sinan Paşa Külliyesi in Yalı Köşkü (1591).78 Thus it can safely be said that the architect of these four structures was Davud Agha.

39- Gazanferağa Madrasa

The important structures of the period in which Davud Agha became mimarbaşı were the tombs of Murat III and Mehmet III, Cerrah Mehmet Paşa Külliyesi (vakfiyesi dated 1594); this latter structure was the last külliye to be built with a mosque (and whose patron was a statesman), the madrasa with tomb of Gazanfer Ağa Külliyesi (1591-1592) (patronized by Kızlarağası Gazanfer Agha), Grand Vizier Koca Sinan Paşa Külliyesi (1593) on Divanyolu, and another madrasa with tomb for Hadım Hasan Paşa Külliyesi (1595).

The life of Ahmed Agha (Dalgıç) b. Abdülmuin (d. 1608), which began with a brief stint as mimarbaşı, and then a promotion to the position of pasha, was as follows: As dergâh-ı muallâ çavuşu he supplied lime trees and lead for the construction of Yalı Pavilion in 1591-1592. The exportation of lumber from Istanbul was the responsibility of Mimar Dalgıç Ahmed Çavuş in 1593. Amel-i Dalgıç Ahmed Agha is inscribed above the door to the tomb of Murat III, built in 1595-1596. He was appointed as waterway inspector in 1596. He became mimarbaşı upon the death of Davud Agha in 1598. Ahmed Agha sent a message regarding the transportation of marble for the tomb of Mehmet III from Marmara Island in 1604. With reference to the fountain he built in Laleli in 1605, his name is mentioned as Mimarbaşı Ahmed b. Abdülmuin. In 1606, his name is recorded as Ahmed Paşa ser-mimar-ı sabık in the expense ledger for the two bridges he renovated in Silivri. While he beylerbeyi to Silistre, Ahmed Agha passed away due to wounds inflicted during fighting in Gönen, which occurred during the Kalender Revolt in Anatolia.79

The Last Külliyes with Mosques and Madrasas with Tombs that were Patronized by Noblemen: The Beginning of a New Situation in the Capital

The Külliye whose architect was Architect Davud, Built during the time of Chief Architect Sinan: the Çarşamba Mehmet Ağa Complex

‘Abd-i dâ‘î-yi Hân Murâd-ı cihân/Ol Mehemmed Ağa-yı hoş haslet; … Kıldı bu câmi‘-i şerîfi binâ/Oldı mecmu‘a câmi‘-i rahmet; … Oldı mi‘mâr-ı kâmili Dâvûd/Yapdı câniyle derc idüp san‘at; Didi Âsârî târihin hâtif/Beyt-i Hâdî vü câmi‘-i ümmet. 993 (Âsârî, Inscription on mosque, 1585)80

(The humble servant of the world [ruler Murad Khan/ The virtuous Mehmed Agha;… He built this noble Friday mosque/it became the sum of the mosques of mercy;… Its perfect architect was Davud/He built [it] by inscribing art with his soul./Asari, the Voice, expressed its date: “The house of God and the mosque of the Community” 993 [1595].)

Habeşî Mehmed Agha, who was the Darüssaade agha (1574-1591), was the head of the karaağas during the reign of Murat III; in the imperial harem there were two groups of aghas, the akağas (white aghas) and the karaağas (black aghas). In the late sixteenth century, the karaağas, who were of a higher rank, in a sense, than the akağas, increased their influence. In fact, Mehmed Agha, a relative of Valide Nurbanu Sultan, was appointed as inspector to the Haremeyn and imperial waqfs in 995 (1586-1587).81 Mehmed Agha, who had obtained this position, had a külliye built. The mosque was completed in 1585 and it was located in the district of Çarşamba, an area which at that time was predominantly non-Muslim.

40- Gazanferağa Complex

The mimarbaşı of the era was Sinan, but the construction of this mosque was given to Mimar Davud Agha, the inspector of waterways at this time; we can assume that Davud Agha was close to the Darüssaade agha, Mehmed Agha. It is known that the grand vizier Siyavuş Pasha, who recommended Davud Agha for the position of mimarbaşı, had a good relationship with Mehmed Agha and Valide Nurbanu Sultan.

This complex is one of the rare buildings that has an inscription where Davud Agha is mentioned as the architect. It is a building complex that is not only considered quite interesting, but also differs from the mainstream theories of the history of architecture, and thus deserves more attention. Another point that needs to be kept in mind is that Sinan went to Mecca in 1584. Gülru Necipoğlu draws attention to another aspect of this matter: “We understand that Sinan, who had his favorite Mehmed Subaşı appointed as mimarbaşı kaymakamı during his journey to Mecca in 1584, did not have close links with Davud.” The fact that Davud’s signature is not found among the signatures of the ten imperial architects who signed the mimarbaşı vakfiyesi as witnesses (around 991/1583-1584), in this sense, is meaningful.

The külliye consisted of a mosque, tomb, çifte hamam and the house of the sheikh of the Halwati zaviye. Upon the death of the first sheikh of the zaviye, Yayabaşızade Hızır Efendi, Abdülmecid Sivasî (d. 1639), (who was later to become the number one enemy of the Kadızade movement) became sheikh; he was then appointed as the hatip (preacher) of Sultanahmet Mosque.82

41- Koca Sinan Paşa Complex

The walls of the mosque were made of a mixture of brick and stone; in the tomb, only cut stones were used. The plan of the mosque was an “octogonal canopy type plan”. It is possible to find similarities between this structure and Selimiye, which Sinan built, and with Mehmet Ağa Mosque, from his later period, as well as with Hadım Mesih Paşa and Nişancı Mehmet Paşa mosques that were built around the same time. However, it should be kept in mind that there are a wide variety of components that need to be taken into consideration. It is certain that the külliye is remarkable due to power relations, the preferences of the architect, the location chosen for the structure (next to a non-Muslim neighborhood), and that it was a mosque that was built by an agha, as well as the materials selected for the building. Mehmed Agha was also patron for Mehmet Ağa Madrasa (1579-1582), known as Kızlarağası Madrasa, which is located in the Divanyolu building.

Cerrah Mehmet Paşa Complex

“Ve Dikilitaş, ki şehr-i İstanbulun güzîde mümtâz yiridür, kurbinde müceddeden binâ olınan vezîr-i müşîr-i lâ-nâzır Mehmed Paşa hazretlerinün camî‘-i şerîf ve mâ‘bed-i lâtifi bi-‘inâyeti’l-lâhi te‘âlâ ve hüsn-i tevfikihî kemâl-i letâfet ü metânette yapılup itmâm buldı. Tavr-ı hûb ve üslûb-ı mergûb üzre mükemmel olup persendîde-i ‘âlemiyân oldı” (Selânikî, Târîh).83

(Near Dikilitaş [Avratpazarı], which is a distinguished and select site in the city of Istanbul, the newly built noble Friday mosque and elegant sanctuary of the unequalled vizier, His Highness Mehmed Pasha, which was constructed with the help and divine assistance of God, reached completion with perfect elegance and solidty. Being excellent in its beautiful manner and attractive style, it was admired by the inhabitants of the world.)

Cerrah Mehmet Paşa Külliyesi was the last külliye to be built in Istanbul by a statesman without a mosque, with the exception of those külliyes patronized by sultans and hanım sultans. From this date on no more mosques would be included in külliyes built by statesmen for about 150 years, or until the külliye in Davutpaşa was built in 1734 by the grand vizier Hekimoğlu Ali Pasha. These buildings would later be described as türbeli medreses (madrasas with tombs). This state of affairs was directly associated with the gradual weakening of the state’s financial power. Moreover, it would not be incorrect to say that this was directly related to the fact that there were many mosques in residential districts, thus there was no need for new mosques in Istanbul, the zoning area of which was quite small at this time (as compared to eighteenth century). At later dates, after this külliye, smaller külliyes would be built in districts that were populous and settled.

The külliye was built during the era when Davud Agha was mimarbaşı. According to the construction inscription, the mosque was completed in 1002 (1593-1594). It was open for worship on May 15, 1594. The patron was the vezir, Mehmed Pasha. As Mehmed Pasha had performed Şehzade Mehmed’s (Mehmed III) circumcision in 1582, he was known as Cerrah (surgeon). When Mehmed III became sultan, he was appointed as grand vizier for a short period of time. Today, the külliye is located in the Cerrahpaşa district. It consists of a mosque, a madrasa, a tomb, a çifte hamam and a fountain. There is one thing about the madrasa that should be noted; the patron, Gevherhan Sultan, was the sister of Murad III, and the widow of Kaptan Piyale Pasha. After the death of the pasha, Geverhan Sultan married Cerrah Mehmed Pasha. Gevherhan Sultan Madrasa is located next to the külliye, but it had already been built in 995 (1586-1587).

As with many other buildings in Istanbul, this külliye also experienced several calamities. In fact, it seems possible to write the history of architecture of Istanbul from a different point of view, merely relying on such calamities, and the subsequent renovations, reconstruction and destruction. In 1660 and again in 1782, the külliye was damaged by fire. It was damaged by earthquakes in 1766 and 1894. The minaret was destroyed by lightening in 1820, and then rebuilt. The mosque was renovated in 1892, 1956 and 1960. During renovations in 1979, as well as in subsequent years, the son cemaat space of the mosque was renovated. While the Çifte Hamam was devastated, the decision to get rid of it completely was made in 1933, and thus the hamam was completely eliminated. After remaining in ruins for a long period of time, the madrasa was also finally renovated.84

The mosque has a plan that architectural historians refer to as “hexagonal canopy type plan”, due to the features in both the form and the plan. It was covered by one main dome and six small semi-domes. It is possible to say that this covering and plan order, a system tested many times during the era of Sinan, was repeated in Cerrah Mehmet Paşa Mosque. However, in order to understand this building, the aforementioned explanation is not sufficient, even though many architectural historians fall in the error of thinking it otherwise. If we relate another feature of this structure to the külliyes built by Mimar Sinan, it is possible to say that “this külliye displays a new example of the increasing visibility of public fountains and tombs in mosque külliyes like those of Darüssaade Ağası Mehmed Agha, Vezir Mesih Pasha and Vezir Nişancı Mehmed Pasha, which were built within the city walls in Istanbul in the 1580s.”

Gazanfer Ağa Complex

Bâb-ı sa‘âdetüm ağası olan … Gazanfer -dâme ‘uluvvuhû- iki yıldan berü emr-i şerîfümle bir medrese yapmağa niyet idüp, hâlâ İstânbûlda mahelle-i İslâmiyyede vâki‘ olan kenîsa ref‘ olunmağ ile bi’l-fi‘il yiri hâlî olup, zikr olınan mahallde medresenün buk‘ası ve kendünün binâ olınmak bâbında izn-i hümâyûnum ricâ itmegin buyurdum ki… (Edict from Murad III, 1593).85

Mahmiyye-i Konstantînde Kırkçeşme dimekle ma‘rûf mahall-i latîfde dört yol ağzında on yedi ‘aded hücre [ve] dershâneyi müştemil makbûl-ı cumhûr ve matbû‘-ı ehl-i şu‘ûr bir medrese-i şerîfe binâ itdüler ki tarh-ı cedîd-i dilfirîbi kulûb-ı nârîne cilâ virür; ve medrese-i ma‘mûreleri civârında cennet-i ‘adn-i bî-‘adîle müşâbih bir makâm-ı ‘âlî-nihâde ve binâ ve âbâd eyleyüp … ölünce … rûh-ı pür-fütûh-ı mukaddesleri şâd olmak içün bir mezâr-ı pür-envâr-ı akdes bünyâd eyledüler … Medrese-i sâlifetü’l-evsâflarına muttasıl dört yol ağzında makbûl-ı cumhûr ve matbû‘-ı ehl-i şu‘ûr bir sebîl-i bî-‘adîl binâ itdüler (Vakfiye, 1596)86

Gazanfer, the agha of my gate of felicity (Bab-ı Saadet), may God keep his greatness, intended to build a madrasa with my noble command for two years and asked my imperial permit concerning its buk’a and construction on a location in a muslim neighborhood that becomes empty by the removal of a church, and I commanded that…

On the fine place known as Kırkçeşme in well-protected Constantinople, on the crossroads, a noble madrasa with seventeen rooms and a classroom that was agreeable to the people and desirable to the scholars, was built, so it gives light to the kind hearts. And he built a tomb of pure holy light like the peerless paradise of Adn around the madrasa to be engraven there when he died... He also built a peerless sebil (fountain), agreeable to the people and desirable to the scholars on the crossroads attached to the madrasa mentioned above.

After the külliyes of Mehmet Agha and Cerrah Mehmet Pasha – included in this history for a number of reasons - something new starts to appear in Istanbul. The first reflection of this, which we will discuss in detail, and which will be dealt with in the architectural sphere, was the fact that there were still statesmen who acted as patrons, for a number of motives, but külliyes which included mosques were no longer built. The first time we see such a practice (which would continue throughout the seventeenth century) was in the late sixteenth century. The buildings that exemplify this were the külliyes of Gazanfer Agha and Koca Sinan Pasha. In other words, the names of these structures were: Gazanfer Ağa Türbeli Madrasa and Sinan Paşa Türbeli Madrasa.

42- Ekmekçizade Ahmet Paşa Complex

The patron was the Darüssaade agha, Gazanfer Agha (d. 1599). The structure was built immediately next to Bozdoğan Aqueduct, which was a continuation of the center-line of the Divanyolu. Permission to build was issued in 1593, and the vakfiye was dated 1596. In this regard, it is possible to say that the construction of the building started during the reign of Murad III, and it was completed during the reign of Mehmed III. This period is when Davud Agha was mimarbaşı.

The külliye consisted of a madrasa, a tomb and a fountain. It was destroyed in a fire in 1782, and, after several repairs, was renovated in 1943-1944.87 The plan of the madrasa, consisting of hücres lined up along the sides of the arcaded court, was made of cut stone, and was not symmetrical. The tomb was connected to the wall of the madrasa, and it there was no frame in the dodecagon plan. The visibility of the külliye as a whole was remarkable. The fountain was located on the corner of the külliye’s wall, and overflowed onto the street. The fountain was attached to the wall of the külliye, and faced the street; the domed, monumental tomb, which could be seen from the street, is the most distinguishing manifestation of Gazanfer Agha’s desire to be recognized. The fountain and the tomb were, in a way, structures that the architect wanted to be remembered for.

Koca Sinan Paşa Complex

Zemân-ı devletinde Hân Murâd ol zıll-i Yezdânın/Sinan Paşa vezir-i a‘zâmı kıldı bu âsârı/İçüd dilteşneler dâim suyundan selsebîlinin/Duâ idüb diyeler ruhuna rahmet ide Bârî; İçenler cânına hummâbegûn bu âb-ı kevserden/Sekâhüm Rabbühüm fehvâsına eylerse ikrârı/Acib resmeyledi Dâvud Ağa serdâr-ı mi‘mârân/Müsahhar oldı ana seng-ü âhen kıldı bu kârı; … İdüp bu türbe-i âliyi bünyâd eyledi hâzır/Makarrı bildi kim yıkmaz vefa dünya-yı gaddârı/Sefer kıldıkda ukbâya şefâat eyliye yâ Rab/Gürûh-ı Enbiyânın server-ü saedâr-ı muhtârı; … (Inscription on fountain, 1593-1594).88

(During the reign of Murad Khan, the shadow of the Creator/His grand vizier Sinan Pasha made these buildings/Those thirsy of heart drinking the water of the fountain/Pray [for him] and say “May the Creator have mercy”/Those who drink the water of paradise/if they reach the meaning of “Their lords have them drink”/Davud Agha, the head of architects described wondrously/He was enthralled and this work became gold mine for him/...He built and made ready this glorious tomb/He knew the place of decision that faith never destroy the world of the ruthless/when he travled the eternal life Oh Gad, may intercede/the chief of the prophets)

The patron of the külliye was Koca Sinan Pasha (d. 1596), who was appointed to the post of grand vizier during the reign of Murad III and Mehmed III; he served in this post a total of five times. The külliye is located along Divanyolu, in the district of Beyazıt. According to the inscription on the fountain of the külliye, it was built by Mimarbaşı Davud Agha.89 İncili Pavilion/Sinan Paşa Pavilion (997 [1588-1589]), which Koca Sinan Pasha had built on the coast of the Historical Peninsual and gifted to Murad III, is also one of Davud Agha’s buildings. The name of Davud Agha is written on the inscription on the fountain near the pavilion (Tasarruflar kılub mimârı Dâvud; Nice sanatlar etdi anda mevcûd; İçub bu çeşmeden bây ü gedâlar; İdeler şâh-ı devrâne dualar) (Its architect Davud, by striving/How many arts he made on it/May the rich and poor, by drinking from this fountain/pray for the ruler of the time.).90 In addition, the yalı across Galata, whose construction expenses were met by Sinan Pasha, and the construction of which was given to mimarbaşı Davud on the request of Murad III, as he had liked the architecture of a similar villa very much, was also one of the structures that Sinan Pasha was patron for.91

As with Gazanfer Ağa Külliyesi, this külliye consisted of a madrasa, a mosque, and a fountain. The four sides of the courtyard of the madrasa consisted of porticoes, and were surrounded with three-sided hücres behind the porticoes. The dershane, which constituted the bulk of the madrasa, was an asymmetrically adjacent structure on the western side. This positioning is something that one does not frequently encounter in madrasa constructions, thus making it a remarkable feature. At the same time, the other buildings in the külliye faced in the same direction. As with Gazanfer Ağa Külliyesi, the fountain and tomb were clearly visible components of the Sinan Paşa Külliyesi. The tomb had a hexadecagonal plan. This tomb was important in regards to the tombs of Istanbul due to the choice of material and decoartiona, as well as for the quality of the workmanship.

The location of this külliye is more prestigious than that of Gazanfer Ağa Külliyesi; it is located on the most visible corner parcel of the Divanyolu, and on this narrow corner, the fountain and tomb have been placed subsequent to each other. If one allows the expression, it is as if the prayer for charity and philanthropy flood onto the street. The lines of the inscription over the fountain merely confirm this. Moreover, the statesmen who built in this manner must have had another aim to build such a striking structure on the main thoroughway of Istanbul, the Divanyolu. Gazanfer Ağa Külliyesi and even more so, Koca Sinan Paşa Külliyesi were of a characteristic of investments that had begun in the earlier period (Firuz Ağa Mosque, 1490; Atik Ali Paşa Küllliyesi 1496-97; Nişancı Mehmet Paşa Mosque, 1584-88) and which were intended to create an emphasis to institutionalize92 the “sultan’s ceremonial axis” and “the representation of the pashas and their power”. In addition, the külliyes of the statesmen Kuyucu Murad Pasha and Ekmekçizade Ahmet Pasha would be included in this group around the first quarter of the seventeenth century. Hadım Hasan Paşa Külliyesi (1595), another madrasa with tomb, consisted of a two-storied madrasa and tomb, built by Hasan Pasha.

43- Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque)

44- Sultanahmet Complex

Knowledge about Istanbul as a Legacy of Famous Architects and Statesmen: High esteemed and generous Mehmed Agha, the chief of imperial architects

… Ve Koca Mi’mâr merhûm Sinân Ağa vefât edince andan san’at taalüm edip ba’dehû yerine mi’mâr olan Dâvud Ağa ile yine ihtilât edip ve merhûm Dâvud Ağa dahi vefât edip yerine mi’mâr olan Dalgıç merhûm Ahmed Ağa ile has bağçede sadefkârlık san’atında bir üstâd şâkirdi olmağla anın zamânında ne kadar ki ebniye ki ihdâs olunmuşdur cümlesi müşârünileyh Mehmed Ağa Hazretleri yedinden geçmişdir… (Cafer Efendi, Risâle-i Mi‘mâriyye).93

(…and when the great Archtiect the deceased Sinan Aga died, Davud Agha, who acquired the arts from him, became architect in his place, and when the late Davud Agha also died, in his place Dalgıç Ahmet Agha, the deceased, and Mehmed Agha who was a disciple of a master on inlaying pearls in the imperial gardens, replaced him and all the buildings made dring his time were completed through his hands.)

… sâhibi’l-fütûh ve’l-megâzî es-sultân Ahmed Han el-gâzî eazzâllâhü teâlâ serîre mülkihî bi-vücûdihî ve efâza ale’l-enâmi âsâre adlihi ve cûdihî Hazretleri’nin saltanat-ı devlet-disâr ve şevket-i izzet-şiârlarında hâssa-i mi’mârân ağâsı olan sâhib-i izz ve’t-temkîn Mehmed Ağa ibn Abdülmuîn Hazretleri dâimâ cevâmi’-i şerîfe ve mesâcid-i münîfe binâsında olup andan gayri dahi nice medrese ve nice köprü ve yüzden mütecâviz çeşme, kimini gayri kimesneler mâliyle ve ba’zını dahi kendi mâliyle binâ ve ihdâs etmiş olup… (Câfer Efendi, Risâle-i Mi‘mâriyye).94

(… the conqueror and gazi His Excellence Sultan Ahmed Khan, al-gazi, may God the Exalted sanctify his soverign throne by His existence and make him succeed in deeds with his justice and generosity, during his glorious times, honorable and dignified Mehmed Agha ibn Abdülmuîn, the agha of imperial architects, was constantly occupied in building glorious mosques and lofty masjids and in addition to these made many madrasas, bridges, more than hundered fountains, he built some of these through the money of others and some through his own money..)

45- Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque)

46- Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque)

Mehmed Agha, who was selected in Rumelia in the devşirme system and became an acemioğlanı in 970 (1562-1563), remained without a salary for five years between 1562 and 1567; he then registered in the payroll system. He worked as the guard in the garden of Sultan Süleyman I’s tomb for a year, and he probably witnessed the construction, or, at the very least, the beginning of the construction of the tomb, one of the most important structures built by Sinan; this is important in terms of the history of Istanbul architecture. In 976 (1568-1569), he took the first step in his education as sedefkâr (master of inlay – mother-of-pearl – work) and architect. After this he became mimarbaşı, and was employed in Hasbahçe, that is, Topkapı Palace. Mehmed Agha studied geometry, inlay work and architecture under Mimar Sinan and his successor Üstat Mehmed for about 20 years, from 1569-1570 to 1588. On the suggestion of Mimar Sinan, in 998 (1589-1590), Mehmed Agha gave a tilavet iskemlesi (chair for Quran recitation) as a gift to Sultan Murad III; subsequently he was promoted to position of imperial gate keeper (Dergâh-ı Âli kapıcı/dergâh-ı âli bevvabı). At the same time, he was sedefkârîler halifesi (successor to the sedefkar). Thus, in addition to the art of inlay and the profession of architect and being a prospective mimarbaşı, Mehmed Agha also had other bureaucratic jobs. He went to Egypt to pay the ransom for the bandit Şehla Mahmud to Üveys Pasha, travelling through Syria and Arabia. In 1591, however, Mehmed Agha went in the opposite direction, to Rumelia, to inspect the castles there; here he was exposed to several new cities – Thessaloniki, Kefe, Silistra, Nikipol and Belgrade, as well as other cities in Albania, Bosnia, Walachia, Moldovia and the Crimea,. Upon his return, Mehmed Agha presented his report to the sultan. In 1592, he presented another gift (yaylık, kemandan) to the sultan, thus securing yet another bureaucratic position: he was appointed to the post of muhzırbaşı (court crier), and presided over four judges. He was made kulle sufisi (harem guardian) between 1592 and 1594. Later, Mehmed Agha became Hüsrev Pasha’s müsellim (officer) for Diyarbakır and Damascus (1593). He presented the mission to Hüsrev Pasha in Damascus and worked as nahiye hâkimi (town judge) of Havran. After all this, as far as we can tell, he was appointed to high offices related to his profession. He was nâzır-ı âb (minister of water) in 1598 (1006-1007) and nezareti mutasarrıf (authoritative inspector???) for a total of eight years. He was nâzır-ı âb while Dalgıç Ahmed Agha served as mimarbaşı. He became the mimarbaşı, taking over the position from Dalgıç Ahmed Pasha, who went to a different post in 1606, and died as Silistre mutasarrıfı in 1608.

47- Wall tiles of Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque)

The most important building that Mimarbaşı Mehmed Agha built was Sultanahmet Mosque, the construction of which began in 1609; this building opened for worship in 1617. The repairs to the Ka’ba carried out in 1611-1612 are among the architectural activities of Mehmed Agha that can be known with certainity. It must be for this reason that Mehmed Agha was described as the Mimar-ı Hadimü’l-Haremeyn in the Risâle-i Mi‘mâriyye.95 He began his journey to Mecca to direct the renovations to the Ka’ba in September, 1611; these renovations began on March 4, 1612, and were completed on eight days later. They washed the Ka’ba with gülab and lit incense. Istanbul received the news of repair on June 20, 1612.96 In addition to this, according to Risâle-i Mi‘mâriyye, Mehmed Agha built over a hundred fountains.

48- Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque)

In addition to Sultanahmet Külliyesi, Kuyucu Murat Paşa Külliyesi (1606-1609) and Ekmekçizade Ahmet Paşa Külliyesi (before 1606-1618) were the most important structures that were built during the time in which Mehmed Agha was mimarbaşı. The renovation of Hagia Sophia (1609) and the inclusion of a dome to Haseki Mosque (1611) are other important works that are also worth mentioning. The smaller mosques in this era include Vefa Mescidi, Kürt Çelebi Mosque (1611), Kadıköy Osman Agha Mescidi (1612), İstavroz Mescidi/Mosque (1613), Kürkçübaşı Mescidi (1613), Arabacılar Mescidi (1614), Kara İmam Mescidi (1615), Halil Paşa Mosque (1617), Gedik Abdi Mescidi (1621), Gülşenî Tekkesi Mescidi (1622), Sormagir Odaları Mescidi (1622) and Üsküdar Kavak Sarayı Mescidi.97

Hostile Patrons, Friendly Buildings: Kuyucu Murat Paşa Complex and Ekmekçizade Ahmet Paşa Complex

Two of the most important structures from the seventeenth century, when considered from today, are the Kuyucu Murat Paşa Külliyesi and the Ekmekçizade Ahmet Paşa Külliyesi. These structures can be described as “friendly” buildings from the seventeenth century. However, it is not possible to say that their patrons, who were contemparies, working during the same time period, were friends. As a matter of fact, it is known that they were quite serious enemies.98 Kuyucu Murad Pasha, who helped to repress the Celalî uprisings in 1608, thus gaining the name Kuyucu, was the most celebrated grand vizier of the seventeenth century. As for Ekmekçizade Ahmed Pasha, he was başdefterdar (head treasurer) of the time. One held the sword, the other the seal, that is, the treasury. As a means to solve political and economic circumstances during this era, the sharpness of Murad Pasha’s sword and Ahmed Pasha’s tight grip on the purse, seem to be almost a common fate. As a result of their methods, these two men had quite a large number of enemies. The sword and the purse were two main reasons for the calamitous start to the seventeenth century, which will be discussed in more detail below.

Kuyucu Murat Paşa Külliyesi (started 1606-1607 - finished 1609) consisted of a madrasa, tomb, fountain and a sıbyan mektebi. It was a madrasa with a tomb, built along the centerline of Divanyolu. The Ekmekçizade Ahmet Paşa Külliyesi (started 1606 – finished before) was in the Vefa district. This külliye included a madrasa, a tomb and a fountain. This was also located in the Divanyolu region, but it fell a little behind the centerline. According to what is written in Risâle-i Mi‘mâriyye, the mimarbaşı of the era, Sedefkâr Mehmed Agha, was fond of Kuyucu Murad Pasha; he came to Anatolia to put down a rebellion, and when in Istanbul he went to the house of Sedefkâr Mehmed Agha and joined in the conversations there. There is no mention of Ekmekçizade in the Risâle. The construction of both külliyes coincides with the era when Sedefkâr Mehmed Agha was mimarbaşı.

Both patrons chose to have their külliyes constructed along the Divanyolu, like their predecessors Gazanfer Agha and Koca Sinan Pasha, and their successors, Köprülü Mehmed Pasha, Kara Mustafa Pasha and Amcazade Hüseyin Pasha. Despite the animosity between the patrons, these two külliyes can be called “friendly” complexes from many aspects (location, functional program, visibility, the period during which they were built – the era when Sedefkâr Mehmed Agha’s mimarbaşı.)

Sign to the Fourteenth of the Sultans:
Sultanahmet Complex

Müşârünileyh Ağa Hazretleri hâlâ meşgûl olduğu lâzımü’t-tekrîm ve’t-tâ’zîm, pâdişâh-ı heft iklîm, ya’nî Sultân ibni’s-Sultân, ibni’s-Sultân, hüve’s-sâhibü’l-kırân es-Sultân Ahmed Han, (…), Hazretleri’nin mahmiyye-i Kostantıniyye’de Atmeydanı demekle ma’rûf mesîrede Bahr-i Sefîd nazargâhı olan arsa-i a’lâ ve cây-i bâlâda bin on sekiz senesinde esâsına mübâşeret olunan câmi-i şerîfinin binâsı üzerinde olup bi-avnillâhi teâlâ binâ-yı şerîfi dahi kubbe-i âliyesi mahalline çıkıp ancak dahi kubbe-i şerîfesi kalmıştır. Hak teâlâ Hazretleri sıhhat ü selâmet ile anı dahi itmâm etmek müyesser eyleye. Âmin yâ Rabbel-âlemîn... (Câfer Efendi, Risâle-i Mi‘mâriyye). 99

(Aforementioned Agha has been occupied in the construction of the glorious mosque of Sultan Ahmed Khan (the son of sultan son of sultan, the master of conjunctions, worthy of respect and honor, the ruler of seven climates) that began on the high land looking at the Mediterranean known as Hippodrome in the city of Istanbul in the year 1018. With the help of God the building has been completed except for the glorious dome. May God the Exalted grant its completion with success. Amen, oh Lord of the world.)

In 1609, Istanbul attained its fifth sultan’s külliyesi, which succeeded Fatih, Beyazıt, Yavuz and Süleymaniye külliyes. In his twenties, Ahmed I (b. 1589-d. 1617), who became sultan at an early age in 1603, decided to have a mosque built like his ancestors. In Risâle-i Mi‘mâriyye, which describes the life of Sedefkâr Mehmed Agha Cafer Efendi, the architect of Sultanahmet Mosque, it is written that the number of balconies on the minaret indicates the beginning date of Sultan Ahmed I’s reign:

O her minâre yâhûd çarh-ı dehre mihverdür/Mevâzi‘-i şerîfe merkez-i şerîfe medâr; Ya oldı dâ’reli her birisi bir şecere/Ki kıldı silsile-i şâh-ı ‘âlemi izhâr; ‘Aded olur şerefe nesl-i ‘Âl-i ‘Osmâna/Ki oldı cümlede mânend-i sübhatü’l-ebrâr; Olubdürür şeh-i ‘âlemde çâr-deh sultân/Budur sebeb şerefe olmağa dahî deh ü çâr.

(Each is as if an axis of the wheel of fortune/the places of the balconies are an orbit for an honorable center; each of them is like a family tree with a circle/So that this indicates the chain of the king of the world; the balconies number as much as the generations of the Ottoman dynasty/Each of them is like a prayer of those who are righteous; Fourteen sultans became sultans of the world/it is for this reason that the balconies number ten and four.)100

49- Haseki Bayrampaşa Complex

However, there is a contradiction here; the mosque has sixteen balconies, but the patron, Sultan Ahmed, was the fourteenth sultan. When the Risâle was being written (1614), the construction of the mosque was in progress, and it may have been that the minarets had not been constructed yet. According to the comment of Gülru Necipoğlu, it may have been that the original number of balconies to be built was fourteen.101 Regardless, it can be said that Cafer Efendi referred to the texts that provided narrations of the life of Sinan; here, the fact that Süleymaniye Mosque has ten balconies was attributed to the fact that Sultan Süleyman I was the tenth sultan. Moreover, he took Sultan Süleyman I as an example and built his mosque in the capital, unlike the sultans Ahmed, Selim II, Mehmed III and Murad III.

Due to high costs, the construction of the mosque was controversial; there were no conquests, which could justify the building of a mosque. Some of the ulema objected in a number of ways, and the mosque was even described as the “Faithless Mosque.” It was also built next to a large mosque that already existed, i.e., Hagia Sophia, which was considered to be in ruins.102 Nevertheless, it was important that this mosque did not end up like Valide Mosque (Yeni Mosque), which started six years before Ahmed I ascended to the throne, only to have construction halted. Sultan Ahmed’s ability to have this mosque built was a great success, if one considers the era. The foundations of the mosque were prepared in the fall of 1609, and the date of groundbreaking was the winter of 1610. In addition, the mosque opened for worship on June 9, 1617, six months before the death of the sultan.103

Other components of the külliye, in addition to the mosque, were the following: the hünkâr kasrı (sultan’s pavilion), adjacent to the mosque, an imaret, madrasa, darülkurra, sıbyan mektebi, darüşşifa, hamam, four fountains, arasta and rental rooms. The imaret, darüşşifa and hamam were either destroyed, or exist today in a form that is far from the original.104 Other units were completed in 1619, two years after the mosque had been completed. The tomb and madrasa were situated to the northeast corner of the garden walls of the mosque. By not building any structure in between, a direct view of Hagia Sophia was provided.

The location selected for the construction was the Hippodrome, the center of the capital, and was immediately across from Hagia Sophia. The brief story of how this location was selected is meaningful. The construction of Valide Mosque (Yeni Mosque) was cancelled, something that will be discussed in more detail below; this must have had an effect on the location of Sultanahmet Mosque. Valide Mosque, which in 1597 was to be constructed in Eminönü, a very populated district, created a great deal of controversy due to expropriation and destruction of buildings on the land or those next to it. This controversy meant that until Ahmed I became sultan (1603), the construction of the mosque continued at a snail’s pace, ultimately being halted. The construction did not resume until the 1660s. When the sultan, who had witnessed such disputes, decided to have a mosque built, he decided on the Hippodrome, although many other sites were recommended. This was because in the Hippodrome there were only two desolate and vacant palaces, which needed to be expropriated. These palaces were the palace of Mihrimah Sultan and Rüstem Pasha, and the palace of İsmihan Sultan and Sokullu Mehmed Pasha. The price of the palace was paid to the heirs, and the palaces were destroyed. The expropriation of these palaces was easier, and an act that did not cause wide-spread controversy. This state of affairs is explained in the verses of Risâle-i Mi‘mâriyye as follows:

Görün ol şâh-ı cihânun kerem ü ihsânın/Vaz‘-ı hayrâtıyçün itdi niçe yer geşt ü güzâr; Virmeyüp şâh-ı kerem ref‘-i mahallâta rızâ/İhtiyâr itmedi kim ref‘ olına mesken ü dâr; Var idi şehr-i Stânbûlda niçe köhne sarây/İns ü cinden yoğ idi kimse içinde deyyâr; Şehrün a‘lâ yirini tutmişidi binyeleri/Ser-be-ser olmişidi zümre-i bûma evkâr.105

(Observe the benefactor sultan of the world/He visited so many places for his philanthropy; The generous sultan does not want to destroy neighborhoods/ He did not chose to destroy residences and homes; There were many ruined palaces in the city of Istanbul/There were no dwellers here, human or jinn; Their bodies used to occupy the best places of the city/there used to be nests for group of owls.)

50- New Valide Mosque and its fountain (in Eminönü)

In the history of architecture of Istanbul and the Ottomans, Sultanahmet Mosque has always been compared to the designs of Mimar Sinan in the great mosques. An early comparison was made by Evliya Çelebi: “Hemân Şehzâde câmi‘i cirminde ve ol tarz üzre tarh olınup vaz‘ı esâs olınmışdur. Ammâ bunda olan kâr-ı şîrînkârlık bir diyârın cevâmi‘lerinde yokdur.” (It was made principally based on the size and style of the mosque of Şehzade. However, the pleasant work in this does not exists in the mosques of another region). In modern comparisons, in most cases, Sinan is seen as being far superior. It is often concluded that Sedefkâr Mehmed Agha “imitated” Sinan, but his taste and solutions were less influential and more vulgar as compared to Sinan’s. Therefore, Sultanahmet Mosque is seen as being more backward than the Sinan mosques in terms of tone.106 However, Turgut Cansever, a modern commentator, emphasized that every period had its own style. He states that Sinan looked for ways to juxtaposition components of the building by freeing them, or setting their own personalities free. Contrary to Sinan’s quest for tense expression, Mehmed Agha approaches these components in a more integrated nature and keeps them in agreement with one another.

As with Şehzade Mosque, Sedefkâr Mehmet Agha, who fortified the central dome with four semi-domes, ensured that the covered location of Sultanahmet Mosque appeared as the last focal point of the Historical Peninsula. Sultanahmet Mosque was a new interpretation of earlier architectural solutions found in Süleymaniye and Selimiye, with its son cemaat space, mosque and the order of the minarets. The architecture of Mehmet Agha, who trained as an inlay artist, differs from the architecture of Sinan; indeed, Mehmet Agha learned carpentry as well as the art of making wooden sections, which were connected to one another, during his youth. The determining factor in the architecture of Sultanahmet Mosque was the expression of accord and harmony. This approach was criticized by other members of Sinan’s school. Decorations were clear of transitions and chaotic expressions, thus softening them, creating the dominant component in Sultanahmet. In the architecture of Sinan, however, these surfaces were covered by muqarnas. This approach meant that the area below the dome was created upon a geometrical order, and its extensions and the round dome appeared above, on its own, without interfering with what lay below it, thus maintaining its “personality.”107


Important changes occurred in determining the parameters of Istanbul architectural history beginning from the sixteenth century, which were reflected in architectural activity. In other words, architecture was now a social activity. Economics, politics, needs and resources naturally affected architecture. The decision to build, the dimensions of the building, stylistic preferences, the workforce, acquisition of materials and skills were all determined within an intertwined web of relationships. The end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth century were periods during which the majority of such changes and transformations occurred. The increase in the şikâyetname and nasihatname (complaints and advice literature) that took place in this period is an indication of this trend. At the same itme, architectural activities continued, in one way or another, despite these changes. Activities kept pace with the changes, and were influenced simultaneously or diachronically.108

51- New Valide Complex (in Eminönü)

Some of the determining factors of the seventeenth century were the following: economic depression, the Celalî uprisings, the Kadızadeliler-Sivasîler fight, economic waste and the haram rhetoric that emerged from this fight, moral and economic pessimism due to military failures, flaming intrigues in the palace in connection with all of the former, the transformation of the sultan into a social figure, particularly in the second half of the seventeenth century. The sultan, compared to the sixteenth century, now took a back seat in society.109

The situation of the time, or the new state, was directly reflected in architecture. For the first time, people objected to the construction of great buildings, and, in some cases, construction could even be halted. Eminönü Valide Mosque is one such example. On the other hand, the practice of building külliyes evolved from külliyes that included a mosque to the medrese with tomb, without a mosque. This was the result of economics, politics and religion. Another aspect of this matter was that, due to the plenty of structures built within the city walls during the sixteenth century, it was hard to find empty places for new constructions. This is a concrete reason for limiting construction, but all the mosques that were planned to be built faced accusations of waste and haram. The most vocal objections were made by the Kadızadelis and Gelibolulu Mustafa Âli, who objected even to Sufis being commissioned to mosques. Gülru Necipoğlu summarized the matter as follows:

The new preference for madrasa-centred complexes may also have responded to a critique voiced by Mustafa Âli in 1586-87: he regarded the redundant construction of so many Friday mosques at the political center of the empire, rather than in needy provincial towns, a blatant show of prestige having little to do with piety. It must have become increasingly difficult to find a legal justification for the construction of Friday mosques in Istanbul, which had reached a saturation point by the late sixteenth century. The paradigm shift in the capital from mosque-centred monumental complexes to more modest ones grouped around madrasas (sometimes featuring sufi convents and masjids) also responded to practical constraints, namely the reduced abailability of building sites and the diminished wealth of non-royal patrons.”110

Constant criticism by intellectuals, an increase in both gossip, and as a direct result, şikâyetnames were the main developments of this time period. The most concise expression that was directly related to architecture can be found in Tezkiretü’l-bünyân. The poem by Saî Mustafa Çelebi in this biography of Mimar Sinan, written in the late 1580s, was titled şikâyet-i rûzigâr (lament of the age) in Tezkiretü’l-bünyân, is significant. Saî is writing about himself here, but if we consider the event in which a complaint was lodged against Sinan with the sultan, this also rings true for Sinan. The situation was even more serious at the end of the sixteenth century:

…; ‘Ayb-bîn olmış-durur halk-ı cihân/Yok hüner gibi metâ‘-ı râyegân; Câhil ü nâ-dânlarun kadri celîl/Ma‘rifet ehli ayaklarda zelîl; Kimse ashâb-ı dile kılmaz nazar/Fi’l-hakîka şimdi ‘ayb oldı hüner.111

(Everyone searches everywhere for one fault/ no other goods go for free as does skill; the degree of ignorance and lack of knowledge is higher/ The knowledgable ones, the skilled ones are under foot; no one even notices the friends of the heart /It is a fact that now talent has become a fault.

One such example that displays the phenomenon explained above in terms of architecture in Istanbul was the controversy surrounding the first construction of Valide Mosque (Yeni Mosque) (between 1597 and 1603). Many large and small buildings were destroyed in order to open up space for the mosque. Among these the most notable was a church and a synagogue. A building permit was given by the sultan and Şer’iye Court to allow the construction of two new structures in another location, thus making up for the two that had been destroyed. The church, built in another place, was later destroyed by Esad Efendi, who was the judge of Istanbul at the time; this was because the court order had not been signed by the judge of Istanbul, but by a delegated judge. The judge of the era and sheikh al-Islam Sunullah Efendi (d. 1612) were under a great deal of pressure to sign these building permits; the bina emini Kara Mehmed Agha was held responsible. The letter Sunullah Efendi wrote to the sultan and his mother during these events is quite interesting: “Your pious foundation meant to redeem you in the next world is legally contaminated, and illegitimate affairs do not endure; it is decorous and appropriate that your affairs pertainin to the shari‘a should be strengthened by a pious supervisor observant of the shari‘a.”112 It would be useful to remember that there were accusations of waste, that is, of “haram” during the same period of time. The sheikh al-Islam, probably in consideration of the unrest, wanted to grant permission for construction of the mosque. The bina emirs, who had received the order to have the building constructed, tried to find a solution to the problem. Disputes, caused by the economic problems in the Ottoman State, regarding the expenses for the construction, as well as political rivalries added to the problem, making it even more difficult to solve.

52- Köprülü Complex

Haseki Bayrampaşa Külliyesi (1635) can offer an example of a seventeenth-century külliye that was built without a mosque because there were already other mosques in the district and due to a lack of space, especially within the city walls for a large külliye. Not including Kuyucu Murat Paşa and Ekmekçizade Ahmet Paşa külliyes, Haseki Bayrampaşa Külliyesi is the most important külliye to be built by a nobleman in the seventeenth century. In terms of functional wealth and plan, this complex was more distinguished than the other two examples, and thus deserves greater attention. The patron of the complex was Bayram Pasha, who was kaymakam of Istanbul in 1635, later becoming grand vizier in 1637. The complex is located near the Haseki Hürrem Sultan külliye (1538-1540), one of the first structures built by Mimar Sinan. When the Haseki Hürrem Sultan Külliyesi was built, this district was not very populous. The Bayrampaşa Külliyesi, which was built one hundred years after the Haseki Hürrem Sultan Külliyesi, was built in a very populated district, where there were many mosques. The külliye includes a madrasa, a sıbyan mektebi, a tekke, a tomb, shops, a drinking fountain, a fountain, a şadırvan and a well. The başmimar at this time was Kasım Agha.113

53- Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Paşa Complex

Valide sultans, like Kösem Sultan, Hatice Turhan Sultan and the Köprülü family, were important construction activities during this period. Among some of the structures built include Üsküdar Kösem Sultan Külliyesi/Çinili Külliye (1640), built by Kösem Sultan, the Eminönü Valide Külliyesi, built by Hatice Turhan Sultan, and the small külliyes without a mosque that the Köprülü family built in the second half of the seventeenth century (Köprülü Mehmet Paşa Külliyesi, Kara Mustafa Paşa Külliyesi and Amcazade Hüseyin Paşa Külliyesi), as well as other small structures (Fazıl Ahmet Paşa Library, etc.). Bayram Paşa Külliyesi, built in 1635, is regarded as a pioneering structure for the Köprülü family.

Two Portrait from Istanbul: Mimar Kasım Ağa Complex and Üsküdar Kösem Sultan Complex (1640)

The architect of Sultanahmet Mosque, Sedefkâr Mehmed Agha, who became mimarbaşı early in the seventeenth century (1606), is listed as the mimarbaşı in a document dated 1616.114 The appointment of Kasım Agha to the position of mimarbaşı arose in 1032 (1622-1623).115 Mimarbaşı Kasım Agha (d. 1660), who was appointed to the position of mimarbaşı three consecutive times and then discharged, is an interesting architect from the seventeenth century. He and Mustafa Agha, the mimarbaşı at the time when the Eminönü Valide Mosque was being built (from 1645 to 1651), were successor/ predecessor to one another. During the eighty years of the seventeenth century that followed Sedefkâr Mehmed Agha, the post of mimarbaşı changed 34 times.116 However, only six mimarbaşı held the title in the 120 years from 1500s to 1620s. This situation in the seventeenth century may be an indication that being appointed to the post of mimarbaşı involved political and bureaucratic intrigues. Kasım Agha did not have a very “clean” record in this sense. Ahmet Refik describes him as follows: “Mimar Kasım is one of the important figures of the seventeenth century. Kasım Agha displayed his character through his influence in politics rather than through his skills as an architect. No important building designed by Mimar Kasım has been encountered in history, except for the stable of Sultan İbrahim; Mimar Kasım was a statesman who performed the most important tasks of the palace.”117

54- Amcazade Hüseyin Paşa Complex

Mimar Kasım was a relative of Sultan İbrahim’s vizier, Kara Mustafa Pasha. When the pasha was murdered, Mimar Kasım was dismissed by Sultan İbrahim, and Meremmetçi Mustafa Agha was appointed in his place. Kasım Agha was imprisoned, but then became mimarbaşı again. When he was not able to win favor from Kösem Sultan, after the latter’s death he became kethüda to Valide Turhan Sultan (1651). After this date he does not appear as mimarbaşı again. The construction of Üsküdar Kösem Sultan Külliyesi coincides with the period when Kasım Agha was mimarbaşı.

The building complex known as Çinili Külliye was built by Valide Mahpeyker Kösem Sultan (d. 1651) in 1640, during the reign of Sultan İbrahim (1640-1648). Kösem Sultan was the wife of Ahmed I and the mother of Murad IV and Sultan İbrahim. She was the valide sultan for 28 years, starting from the time Murad IV ascended the throne (1623-1640). Kösem Sultan reached an influential position in state government. She was known as Valide-i Muazzama and Ümmü’l-Mü’minîn.118

According to the inscription, Çinili Külliye consisted of a mosque, a madrasa, a sıbyan mektebi, a double hamam, a fountain and a drinking fountain.119 All of these buildings were situated, in a rather disorderly fashion, within the külliye. The mosque of the külliye, in particular, was a very humble one in comparison to other sixteenth-century mosques. It was a very small, single-domed building that was made of rubble stone. The mosque had the most beautiful and the highest quality tiles available. The most important aspect of this külliye is the question as to why Kösem Sultan, the most powerful woman in the Ottoman palace, would build a mosque as well as külliye of such dimensions. Economic reasons and the political fights of the seventeenth century (mentioned above) can shed light on the answer to this question. Valide Han in Eminönü was built at essentially the same time (1540) as Kösem Sultan’s Çinili Külliye. The former building was one of the most important trade centers in Istanbul.

A Story of Perfection: Eminönü Valide Complex

… ma‘kûl görildügi üzre keşf olındı rûz-merre mü’neti yıgılıp ehl-i binâ ihzârından sonra işbu sene-i mezbûre mâh-ı zî’l-ka‘desinün yigirmi beşinci gün binâya mübâşeret ve ancak eski binânun üzerinden bir sıra tâş sökülüp bed’ ve ihtimâm ve itmâmına sa‘y-ı belîğ ve dikkat-i tâmm olınup icârıyla musakkafât olmak üzre etrâfına çifte çârsû ve bir türbe ve dârü’l-kurrâ ve bir mekteb ve iki kapularından birer sebîlhâne ve deryâya nâzır bir ‘âlî kasr dahî yapılmak emr olındı (Silahtar Fındıklılı Mehmed Agha, Târih).120

(…it was found as seen reasonable, after daily provisions were brought and men working for construction were brought, the construction began on Zilka‘de 25 in this year. However, one raw bricks were removed in the old building, on the condition that they pay attention and exert effort on its beginning, importance and completion, the construction of a double covered market, whose shops would be rented out, school for quran reciters and a school and fountains on the both gates and also a glorious pavilion viewing the sea were ordered)

Ol câmi‘ muattal ve harâb yahûdiler içinde kalup, zulmet-i küfr-i dinlerini Bür düki? gibi has ve haşâk ile câmi‘-i mezkûrun esâs ve bünyâdın setr edüp bir mertebeye vardıki câmi‘ esâsı idügünü kimse bilmez oldı. İttifâken günlerde bir gün yetmiş bir târihinde hikmet-i Hakkile câmi‘-i mezbûrun esasının etrafından bir nâr-ı ‘azîme ve ‘ateş-i süzânde zâhir olup, Mahrûse-i İstanbul’un ekser yerlerini ihrâk edüp ve ba‘zı cevâmi‘ ve mesâcid dahi münharik ve münhedim oldı ve câmi‘-i mezkûr dahî zulmât-ı küfrden dîn-i Muhammedî gibi kendüyi gösterip nümâyân oldı (Kürd Hatib, Risâle-i Hatib).121

(This mosqhe had become unused and ruined in the middle of Jews, the mentioned mosque had become hidden by garbage like the darkness of their religion to the degree that no one would knew that it was actually a mosque. Suddenly, one day in the year of ’71, a large fire came into being around the mentioned mosque, it burned donw many places in the city of Istanbul and some mosques and masjids too became burned and ruined, and the mentioned mosque became apparent like the religion of Prophet Muhammad from the darkness of infidels.)

Yeni Mosque, as it is known today, went through the most interesting construction process in the history of architecture in Istanbul; this structure was built on Eminönü Pier. Like Üsküdar Mihrimah Sultan, Azapkapı Sokullu, Şemsi Paşa, and Kaptanıderya mosques, Yeni Mosque is located on the shore.

It should be remembered that each new külliye (even each new building) transformed the skyline of the city, re-defining it, and acting as a determiner for settlement. Yeni Mosque acted in exactly the same way. However, this structure has a more distinctive and complex story. When the construction activities first started (expropriations, etc.), many disputes over the selection of location, problems in expropriations of buildings and land for the projected location of the mosque, and finally, the foundations of the building were laid; the foundation wall was built up to a certain point. What is more interesting is that after this time, such a large piece of land remained vacant for about sixty years ago; the mosque was erected on the old foundations. The story of these foundations, the construction of which had been left half finished, has not been studied in detail.122

The first patron of the külliye was Valide Safiye Sultan, the haseki/wife of Murad III and the mother of Mehmed III. The second patron was Valide Hatice Turhan Sultan, the mother of Mehmed IV.

We mentioned the disputes which occurred during the first construction in the discussion of the seventeenth-century political and economic landscape above. Another interesting set of circumstances is the fact that two separate groundbreaking ceremonies took place, five months apart. Solutions, good or bad, that occurred during the first construction, like the expropriation difficulties and religious matters, were solved with temporary solutions or put to one side; this led to the interesting situation of two groundbreaking ceremonies taking place five years apart. The first architect of the mosque was Mimarbaşı Davud Agha. A large number of statesmen attended the first groundbreaking on April 8, 1598. During this ceremony, the sultan sent the bostancıbaşı and he informed him that the grand vizier Hadım Pasha, the bina nazırı, had been dismissed. Even more people attended the second groundbreaking ceremony, which took place on August 20, 1598; the the meeting of the divan-ı hümayun (council of state) was even cancelled due to the ceremony.123 There are different opinions about why there were two groundbreaking ceremonies. Some claim that the second ceremony may have actually been an opening ceremony; they base this opinion on the fact that the construction of the mosque’s foundations had been completed during the time which elapsed from the first groundbreaking ceremony to the second.124

It was quite a challenging task to build the mosque on the ground here, as it was soft. The foundation was raised up by inserting wooden stakes into the ground; special rock, brought from Rhodes, was used in the foundation.125 Mimarbaşı Davud Agha, who was in charge of this project, died from the plague in September, 1598. Dalgıç Ahmed Çavuş, who was the inspector of waterways, became mimarbaşı in Davud Agha’s place.126 As can be understood from Târîh by Silahtar Fındıklılı Mehmed Agha, the walls were built up to a certain level during this time. This level was up to the lower levels of the windows, just above the foundations.127 Due to the crises of the early seventeenth century, including accusations of large amounts of money being spent for the foundations and expropriations of this building, the project, initiated by Safiye Sultan, came to a complete halt upon the death of her son, Mehmed III, (d. 1603) which was followed by the death of the valide sultan (1605) in the Old Palace.

The old foundations, where a large number of Jewish people had settled, was remembered by Valide Hadice Turhan Sultan in the 1560s. Expropriation activities similar to those carried out for the first construction started again. The fire of 1660 had a positive effect, making expropriations easier.128 There were similar complaints to before, despite the time that had passed, and despite the fact that the political, economic and social situation was different from earlier. There was full support by the political and religious authorities for this project, unlike the earlier period. The great fire, the idea of increasing the Muslim population in Eminönü, an area that housed the economic and political authority of the state, as well as being a trade center, and a district heavily populated by Christian, Jewish and Muslim populations, helped pave the way for Yeni Cami Külliyesi “rising from the ashes”. The texts written in this period carry traces of these events. In comparison with the first patroness, Safiye Sultan, who was labelled as zulmiye (the oppressor) as a result of unjust expropriations and political disagreements, the second patroness, Hatice Turhan Sultan, would be remembered as adliye (the just), even though there were similar complaints.129

The third architect of the structure, succeeding Davud Agha and Dalgıç Ahmed Agha, was the başmimar of the era, Mustafa Agha. The three most important architects of the seventeenth century shared the same structure. The külliye consisted of a mosque, a hünkâr kasrı, a tomb and a market place (Sultan Market Place or Mısır Çarşı – the Spice Bazaar). It is controversial whether or not the darülkurra, sıbyan mektebi, sebilhanes and muvakkithane (clockroom) of which Silahtar Fındıklılı Mehmed Agha spoke were in fact ever built, or if built, what they became after being built.130

In general, the covering system of the mosque consisted of a large dome and four semi-domes; this is the system which Sinan had used for the Şehzade Mosque and which Sedefkâr Mehmed Agha had used for in Sultanahmet Mosque. Researchers are of the opinion that this design was established by Davud Agha in 1597. The explanation for this, in general terms, is as follows: The main design of the mosque, which was to be built on walls that were built up to the bottom of the windows, must have been close to the original plan. With this mosque-külliye, the tradition of members of the dynasty building large mosques of such sizes would come to an end. Therefore, it is possible to state that the mosque was the last monumental structure in Istanbul to “bear traces of the classical period.” Adding Üsküdar Yeni Valide Mosque to the buildings which have this characteristic, Turgut Cansever says: “Eminönü Yeni Mosque (1597-1663) and Üsküdar Yeni Valide Mosque (1710), which Sultan Ahmed III had built in the name of his mother, can be described as the last Ottoman structures that were connected with Sinan’s desire to produce an architecture which viewed existence as being in the state of creation, and which resolved new problems within new places and under new circumstances.”131

One of the most impressive structures of the külliye was the hünkâr kasrı. Its plan was perceived to be Ottoman “civil architecture,” and this is considered to be one of the most important structures to have survived until today. The decorations on this building are quite impressive.132 The tomb is also exceedingly magnificent. It is covered by a dome which has a diameter greater than fifteen meters. This tomb is so large that not only Valide Hatice Turhan, her son Murad IV, eighteenth-century sultans Mustafa II, Ahmed III, Mahmud I and Osman III, as well as numerous members of the dynasty, are all buried in this tomb. With the Mısır Çarşısı, Kapalıçarşı (Grand Bazaar), and large and small structures in Mahmutpaşa, this is one of the most important commercial buildings in Istanbul. In the middle of the sixteenth century, the wooden shops of Haseki Hürrem Sultan Külliyesi in Avratpazarı, the shops that were added to Mihrimah Sultan’s külliye in Edirnekapı all devolved into Mısır Çarşısı in Eminönü. The market place is now a perfect, orderly, separate structure, which imposes its own architectural presence. The L-shaped market place has 46 storefronts along its long section, and 36 along the shorter section, with six shops at the intersection of the two. This structure is mentioned in the course of commercial activity in the late seventeenth century, due to the place where it is located, i.e., Eminönü, a crowded commercial center. In this respect, circumstances must have demanded that even after a structure like Valide Han (1640), there was still a need for a structure like Mısır Çarşısı in Istanbul.

Köprülüs and Their Architectural Contributions

In the first half of the seventeenth century the completion of Haseki Bayrampaşa Külliyesi, Üsküdar Kösem Sultan Külliyesi and Eminönü Valide Külliyesi followed that of Sultanahmet Külliyesi. Haseki, Eminönü and Üsküdar were, so to speak, saturated with buildings and housing. From the second half of the century, the Köprülü family and buildings built in their name start to appear. The members of this strong, new grand vizier family wanted to be known; they did this by building külliyes, which although small in content, were great in name. Divanyolu, where most of this family resided, was the favorite place for such structure. Primary structures, like Firuz Ağa Mosque (1490), Atik Ali Paşa Külliyesi (1496-1497), Nişancı Mehmet Paşa Mosque (1584-1588), Koca Sinan Paşa Külliyesi (1593-1594), Gazanfer Ağa Külliyesi (1593-1596) and Kuyucu Murat Paşa Külliyesi (1606-1609) had been in Divanyolu from the time of Sultan Mehmt II. As Sultan Mehmed IV (1648-1687) resided in Edirne during this time it is likely that the sole authority to shape architectural activities and the Divanyolu were the Köprülüs.

The period of the Köprülü family starts with Mehmed Pasha, in 1656. Among the structures that they built were Köprülü Mehmet Paşa Külliyesi (1660-1661), Kara Mustafa Paşa Külliyesi (1681-1691), and Amcazade Hüseyin Paşa Külliyesi (1695-1702). All of these külliyes were of the madrasa tomb style.

The Köprülü Mehmet Paşa Külliyesi (1660-1661) was located in the middle of Divanyolu, across from Çemberlitaş. The patron was the most celebrated grand vizier of the seventeenth century, Mehmed Pasha, and the building was constructed late in the pasha’s life. The building complex was non-assertive in terms of its content, but assertive in terms of its location. It consisted of a madrasa, a tomb, a sebil, a fountain and shops. When the road on which it was built was widened in 1860, the wing of the courtyard that faced the street and the madrasa were reduced in size. Fazıl Ahmed Pasha (1661-1676), the son of Köprülü Mehmed Pasha, who also succeeded his father as grand vizier, built a library next to the madrasa on Divanyolu. “The middle section located between the three sections of the cloister located in front of this small building, which was “domed and had a square plan,” was split into two parts. This plan, which was a first of its kind, would be very popular in the next century.” The construction on Divanyolu continued with Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha and Amcazade Hüseyin Pasha. The Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Paşa Külliyesi (1681-1691) was built near the middle of Divanyolu. The madrasa consisted of a darülhadis, a sıbyan mektebi, sebil, open tomb and shops. The construction started before the pasha’s military expedition to Vienna, and was completed by his son in 1691. The complex went through a number of renovations, and the tomb and the sebil were relocated.133 The last important structure built by the Köprülüs in this century was Amcazade Hüseyin Paşa Külliyesi (1695-1702). This is located slightly beyond Divanyolu, behind Bozdoğan Aqueduct. The madrasa included a tomb, a sebil and a small square library.


At the end of the seventeenth century, the Old Palace, the Hippodrome, Gümrük Kapanı, and Divanyolu took on new forms thanks to the new buildings built there. In other words, within the process that started with the conquest, the important centers of the city were the most distinguished with regards to their location and physical presence in the fifteenth century and the first half of the sixteenth century; by the end of the seventeenth century they had attained new appearances. The central locations of Old Palace and its neighborhood, the Hippodrome, and Gümrük Kapanı, known as Eminönü Square today, gained a presence with Süleymaniye Külliyesi, Sultanahmet Mosque and Valide Mosque (Yeni Mosque). These three monumental buildings became milestones in the new physical make-up of the imperial capital. Mimar Sinan imposed the construction of Süleymaniye on the Old Palace. Sedefkâr Mehmed Agha had Sultanahmet Mosque built in an arsa-i a‘lâ “in a recreation area known as Hippodrome.” As for Divanyolu, it was adorned entirely with small külliyes built in the name of statesmen.

The settlement within the walls, which started with Yavuz Sultan Selim Külliyesi early in the sixteenth century, prospered with Haseki Külliye, Şehzade Külliye, Süleymaniye Külliye, Mihrimah Külliye, Sokullu Külliye, Sultanahmet Külliye, Valide Külliye, and many other külliyes, as well as a large variety of building forms. Late in the seventeenth century, the districts outside the walls of Istanbul had become populated and organized. The coasts of Eyüp, Üsküdar, Beşiktaş and Galata were adorned with large and small külliyes that would direct the future architecture of these areas. The inland districts of these sites also took their share from this development.

For two hundred years, Yavuz, Sultan Süleyman I, Selim II, Murad III, Mehmed III, Ahmed I, Osman II, Mustafa I, Murad IV, İbrahim, Mehmed IV and Mustafa II continued the chain of events, which had started with Mehmed II and Bayezid II, in the city in one way or another – all of which that had started with Fatih and Bayezid II. After the sultans, women like Hürrem Sultan, Mihrimah Sultan, Nurbanu Sultan, İsmihan Sultan, Şah Sultan, Kösem Sultan and Hatice Turhan Sultan were amongst the most important determiners of politics and locations in the city. Sokullu Mehmed Pasha, Rüstem Pasha, Kara Ahmed Pasha, Semiz Ali Pasha, Hadım Mesih Pasha, Barbaros Hayreddin Pasha, Sinan Pasha, Piyale Mehmed Pasha, Kılıç Ali Pasha, Zal Mahmud Pasha, Hadım İbrahim Pasha, Şemsi Ahmed Pasha, Mesih Mehmed Pasha, Nişancı Mehmed Pasha, Cerrah Mehmed Pasha, Koca Sinan Pasha, Hadım Hasan Pasha, Kuyucu Murad Pasha, Ekmekçioğlu Ahmed Pasha, Bayram Pasha, and many other pasha, aghas, efendis and çelebis joined sultans and hanım sultans (royal women) in the construction of Istanbul. The buildings of such patrons sometimes competed with those of sultans and hanim sultans, while sometimes bearing a natural humbleness. There can be no doubt that the real actors in these public works and housing activity, some of who were quite prominent, and others who were almost invisible, were architects, assistant-masters, masters and workers. In addition to the buildings, these people created and controlled style preferences, material acquisition, the labour force cycle and construction expenses, and thus Istanbul. Acem Ali, Sinan, Davud, Dalgıç Ahmed, Sedefkâr Mehmed, Kasım, Mustafa and many other architects operated under the support of patrons, sponsors, and masters.

City locations and buildings are stages for economics, politics, rivalry, skills and inclinations. Istanbul received its share of these in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and was thus shaped under the changing circumstances of each period. This dynamic character of Istanbul made it the most important center, not only in the Muslim world, but also in the non-Muslim world.


1 Doğan Kuban, “Sultan Selim Külliyesi”, DBİst.A, vol. 7, p. 62.

2 Turgut Cansever, Mimar Sinan, Istanbul: Albaraka Türk, 2005, p. 94.

3 Information about Mimar Acem Ali has been compiled from these two sources; here documents about chief architects and other architects of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Istanbul are mentioned: Stefanos Yerasimos, “15.-16. Yüzyıl Osmanlı Mimarları: Bir Prosopografya Denemesi”, Afife Batur’a Armağan Mimarlık ve Sanat Tarihi Yazıları, ed. A. Ağır, D. Mazlum and G. Cephanecigil, Istanbul: Literatür, 2005, p. 41; Gülru Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı: Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nda Mimari Kültür, tr. Gül Çağalalı Güven, Istanbul: İstanbul Bilgi Üniversitesi, 2013, pp. 209-210.

4 Stefanos Yerasimos, İstanbul: İmparatorluklar Başkenti, tr. Ayşegül Sönmezay and Ela Güntekin, Istanbul: Türkiye Ekonomik ve Toplumsal Tarih Vakfı, 2010, p. 252.

5 Prepared by Ömer Lutfi Barkan and Ekrem Hakkı Ayverdi, İstanbul Vakıfları Tahrîr Defteri 953 (1546), Istanbul: İstanbul Fetih Cemiyeti İstanbul Enstitüsü, 19701970, p. 382; in Vakıflar Tahrir Defteri, dated 1600 the Word mescid (masjid) is used instead of camii (mosque). (See: Mehmet Canatar, İstanbul Vakıfları Tahrîr Defteri 1009 (1600), Istanbul: İstanbul Fetih Cemiyeti, 2004, p. 631).

6 For details, see: M. Baha Tanman, “Mimar Acem Camii ve Tekkesi”, DBİst.A, vol. 5, pp. 465-467.

7 Sâî Mustafa Çelebi, Yapılar Kitabı: Tezkiretü’l-bünyan ve Tezkiretü’l-ebniye): Mimar Sinan’ın Anıları, prepared by Hayati Develi and Samih Rifat, Istanbul: Koçbank, 2002, p. 70 (transcription: p. 152 [fol. 12a]).

8 Sâî, Yapılar Kitabı, p. 50 (transcription: p. 131 [fol. 5b]).

9 Sâî, Yapılar Kitabı, p. 126.

10 Yerasimos, “15.-16. Yüzyıl Osmanlı Mimarları”, p. 52.

11 For short notes on some of the patrons of the buildings, see: Abdülkadir Özcan, “Mimar Sinan’a Siparişte Bulunanlar”, Mimarbaşı Koca Sinan: Yaşadığı Çağ ve Eserleri, ed. Sadi Bayram, Istanbul: Vakıflar Genel Müdürlüğü, 1988, vol. 1, pp. 131-145. For detailed and comprehensive information abou the patrons who lived during the era of Mimar Sinan and the buildings they had built, see: Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı.

12 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 106.

13 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 108.

14 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 370.

15 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 366.

16 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 368.

17 For a discussion on this matter, see: Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, pp. 368-369.

18 Doğan Kuban, “Haseki Külliyesi”, DBİst.A, vol. 4, p. 5.

19 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 113.

20 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 241.

21 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 404.

22 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 408.

23 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 404.

24 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 401.

25 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 129.

26 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 132.

27 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 413, 417-418.

28 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 413.

29 For more details about this rivalry, see: Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, pp. 410-412.

30 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 225.

31 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 227.

32 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 393.

33 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 381.

34 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 382.

35 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 383.

36 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 384.

37 Sâî, Yapılar Kitabı, p. 48 (transcription: p. 128 [fol. 5a]).

38 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 139.

39 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 147.

40 Sâî, Yapılar Kitabı, p. 61 (transcription: p. 142 [fol. 9a]).

41 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 205.

42 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 171.

43 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, pp. 184, 186.

44 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 215.

45 More detailed information about Süleymaniye can be found in another work in this volume (see: Yavuz Sezer, “Süleymaniye Camii ve Külliyesi”.

46 For detailed information, see: Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, pp. 394-398.

47 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 446.

48 Yerasimos, İstanbul, p. 330.

49 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 446-448.

50 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 492.

51 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 492.

52 For details, see: Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, pp. 497-498.

53 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 261.

54 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 263.

55 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 428.

56 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 252.

57 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 247.

58 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 245.

59 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 365.

60 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 369.

61 Yerasimos, İstanbul, p. 284.

62 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 561.

63 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 237.

64 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 564.

65 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 377.

66 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 372, 375.

67 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 577-578.

68 For details see. Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 573.

69 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 384, 387.

70 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 233.

71 For details see Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 410-413.

72 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 394.

73 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 541.

74 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 548.

75 Şerif Tümer, “Mimar Dâvud Ağa’nın Hayatı, Eserleri ve Üslup Anlayışı”, (MA Thesis), Yüzüncü Yıl Üniversitesi, 2012, p. 45.

76 For a detailed analysis and evaluation, see: Aziz Doğanay, Klasik Devir İstanbul Hanedan Türbeleri (1522-1604), Istanbul 2009; Uğur Tanyeli, “Klasik Osmanlı Dünyasında Değişim, Yenilik ve ‘Eskilik’ Üretimi”, Afife Batur’a Armağan Mimarlık ve Sanat Tarihi Yazıları, ed. A. Ağır, D. Mazlum and G. Cephanecigil, Istanbul: Literatür, 2005, pp. 25-35; Hakkı Önkal, Osmanlı Hanedan Türbeleri, Ankara: Kültür Bakanlığı, 1992.

77 Yerasimos, “15.-16. Yüzyıl Osmanlı Mimarları”, pp. 43-44.

78 Gülru Necipoğlu, 15. ve 16. Yüzyılda Topkapı Sarayı: Mimari, Tören ve İktidar, tr. Ruşen Sezer, Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Kültür Sanat Yayıncılık, 2007, p. 289.

79 Yerasimos, “15.-16. Yüzyıl Osmanlı Mimarları”, p. 40.

80 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 667.

81 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 664.

82 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 668.

83 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 680.

84 Ahmet Vefa Çobanoğlu, “Cerrah Mehmed Paşa Külliyesi”, DBİst.A, II, 411.

85 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 682.

86 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 683.

87 Ahmet Vefa Çobanoğlu, “Gazanfer Ağa Külliyesi”, DBİst.A, III, 375.

88 Tümer, “Mimar Dâvud Ağa’nın Hayatı”, p. 60.

89 Doğan Yavaş, “Sinan Paşa Külliyesi”, DBİst.A, VII, 5.

90 Semavi Eyice, “Sinan Paşa Köşkü”, DBİst.A, VII, 1.

91 For details see, Necipoğlu, 15. ve 16. Yüzyılda Topkapı Sarayı, p. 282-298.

92 For detailed interpretations, see: Maurice Cerasi, Divanyolu, tr. Ali Özdamar, Istanbul: Kitap Yayınevi, 2006.

93 Câfer Efendi, Risâle-i Mi‘mâriyye, prepared by İ. Aydın Yüksel, Istanbul: İstanbul Fetih Cemiyeti, 2005, pp. 30-31 (f. 21a).

94 Câfer Efendi, Risâle-i Mi‘mâriyye, p. 8-9 (fol. 5a).

95 Bu tavsifin ve Risâle-i Mi‘mâriyye’nin ayrıntılı bir yorumu için bkz. Halil İbrahim Düzenli, “Mimar Mehmed Ağa ve Dünyası: Risâle-i Mi‘mâriyye Üzerinden 16. ve 17. Yüzyıl Zihniyet Kalıplarını ve Mimarlığını Anlamlandırma Denemesi”, PhD thesis, Karadeniz Teknik Üniversitesi, 2009.

96 Zübdetü-t-tevârîh ve Na‘îmâ Târihi’nden aktaran Yerasimos, “15.-16. Yüzyıl Osmanlı Mimarları”, p. 48.

97 Filiz Yenişehirlioğlu, “Mehmed Ağa (Sedefkâr)”, DBİst.A., vol. 5, pp. 354-355.

98 For the enmity between them see, Ahmet Turan Alkan, “Ekmekçizâde Ahmet Paşa’nın Ölümüne Düşürülmüş Bir Tarih ve Cennetle Müjdelenen Bir Zâlim”, TT, 1988, vol. 9 (1988), p. 375.

99 Câfer Efendi, Risâle-i Mi‘mâriyye, p. 66 (fol. 51a).

100 Câfer Efendi, Risâle-i Mi‘mâriyye, p. 78 (fol. 60a). modern Turkish tr. Necipoğlu, Mimar Sinan, p. 695.

101 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 696.

102 For details, see: Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, pp. 690-691.

103 Yerasimos, “15.-16. Yüzyıl Osmanlı Mimarları”, pp. 48, 59.

104 For imaret, darüşşifa, and hamam, see: Zeynep Nayır, Osmanlı Mimarlığında Sultan Ahmed Külliyesi ve Sonrası, Istanbul: İTÜ Mimarlık Fakültesi Baskı Atölyesi, 1975, pp. 84-85.

105 Câfer Efendi, Risâle-i Mi‘mâriyye, p. 67 (fol. 52a). Turkish transliteration: Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 690.

106 Examples of these comparisons are numerous. For some examples, see: Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 695. Moreove, there is another comparions in Necipoğlu’s commentary. The upper structure of Sultan Ahmed Mosque is “a new style that is striking and flamboyant” and the decorations are “a preference for magnificence with unreigned decoration” (see: Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 693).

107 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 399-400.

108 For an important discussion on this matter in the context of architecture, concerned with the tombs built by Sinan at the end of the sixteenth century, see: Tanyeli, “Klasik Osmanlı Dünyasında Değişim”.

109 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 696.

110 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 683-684.

111 Sâî, Yapılar Kitabı, pp. 39, 121.

112 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 686.

113 For a detailed discussion about the külliye, see: Zeynep Nayır, “İstanbul Haseki’de Bayram Paşa Külliyesi”, İsmail Hakkı Uzunçarşılı’ya Armağan, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1988, pp. 397-410.

114 Fatma Afyoncu, XVII. Yüzyılda Hassa Mimarları Ocağı, Ankara: Kültür Bakanlığı, 2001, p. 13.

115 This matter is controversial. Semavi Eyice states that this Kasım Agha was also known as Koca Kasım Agha. For the jobs carried out by Kasım Agha as mimarbaşı and the discussion of halef-selefler, see Afyoncu: XVII. Yüzyılda Hassa Mimarları Ocağı, pp. 14-17.

116 Afyoncu, XVII. Yüzyılda Hassa Mimarları Ocağı, pp. 26-27.

117 Ahmed Refik [Altınay], Türk Mimarları (According to Hazine-i Evrak Vesikaları), Istanbul: Hilmi Kitaphanesi, 1936, p. 34.

118 Necdet Sakaoğlu, “Kösem Sultan”, DBİst.A, V, 97.

119 Nayır, Osmanlı Mimarlığında Sultan Ahmed Külliyesi, pp. 178-179.

120 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 686.

121 Kenan Yıldız, “1660 İstanbul Yangınının Sosyo-Ekonomik Tahlili”, PhD thesis, Marmara Üniversitesi, Istanbul 2012, pp. 168-169.

122 1660 İstanbul yangınıyla ilgili sosyo-ekonomik irdelemesi için bkz. bu konudaki en ayrıntılı çalışma olan Yıldız, “1660 İstanbul Yangınının Sosyo-Ekonomik Tahlili”, s. 163-235. Valide Külliyesi’nin yapım aşamalarıyla ilgili diğer derli toplu, mufassal öyküler şu iki kaynakta bulunabilir: Lucienne Thys-Şenocak, Hadice Turhan Sultan: Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nda Kadın Baniler, translated by Ayla Ortaç, İstanbul: Kitap Yayınevi, 2009, pp. 213-288; Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, s. 684-688; also see Nayır, Osmanlı Mimarlığında Sultan Ahmed Külliyesi, pp. 135-168.

123 all the information is given by Târih-i Selânikî. See Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 685; Thys-Şenocak, Hadice Turhan Sultan, p. 218.

124 Thys-Şenocak, Hadice Turhan Sultan, p. 218.

125 Thys-Şenocak, Hadice Turhan Sultan, p. 219.

126 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 685.

127 Thys-Şenocak, Hadice Turhan Sultan, p. 219.

128 For detailed informaiton: Yıldız, “1660 İstanbul Yangınının Sosyo-Ekonomik Tahlili”, pp. 163-235.

129 See: Thys-Şenocak, Hadice Turhan Sultan, pp. 220-228.

130 Necipoğlu, Sinan Çağı, p. 686; Thys-Şenocak, Hadice Turhan Sultan, pp. 276-278.

131 Cansever, Mimar Sinan, p. 400.

132 For details, see: Thys-Şenocak, Hadice Turhan Sultan, pp. 245-262.

133 Nayır, Osmanlı Mimarlığında Sultan Ahmed Külliyesi, p. 189.

This article was translated from Turkish version of History of Istanbul with some editions to be published in a digitalized form in 2019.

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