The Süleymaniye Mosque is the largest mosque in Istanbul, and one of the best-known sights there.
Suleyman commissioned the great architect Mimar Sinan to build the mosque, which was started in 1550 and finished in 1558.
The mosque itself is preceded by a monumental courtyard (avlu) on its west side. The courtyard at the Süleymaniye is of exceptional grandeur with a colonnaded peristyle with columns of marble, granite and porphyry. At the four corners of the courtyard are the four minarets, a number only allowable to mosques endowed by a sultan (princes and princesses could construct two minarets; others only one). The minarets have a total of 10 galleries (serifes), which by tradition indicates that Suleiman I was the 10th Ottoman sultan.
The main dome is 53 meters high and has a diameter of 26.5 meters. At the time it was built, the dome was the highest in the Ottoman Empire, when measured from sea level.
The interior of the mosque is almost a square, 59 meters in length and 58 meters in width, forming a single vast space. The dome is flanked by semi-domes, and to the north and south arches with tympana-filled windows, supported by enormous porphyry monoliths. Sinan made of a radical architectural innovation to mask the huge north-south buttresses needed to support these central piers. He incorporated the buttresses into the walls of the building, with half projecting inside and half projecting outside, and then hid the projections by building colonnaded galleries. There is a single gallery inside the structure, and a two-story gallery outside.
The interior decoration is subtle, with very restrained use of Iznik tiles. The white marble mihrab and mimbar are also simple in design, and woodwork is restrained, with simple designs in ivory and mother of pearl.
In the garden behind the main mosque there are two mausoleums (türbe) including the tombs of sultan Suleiman I, his wife Roxelana (Haseki Hürrem), his daughter Mihrimah, his mother Dilaşub Saliha and his sister Asiye.
Suleyman the Magnificent...Suleyman Kanuni...the Law Giver was the greatest and noblest Ruler of the Sixteenth Century, or perhaps of any century.
Under Suleyman the Magnificent, Muslim rule was a meritocracy. Every office in the land but the Sultanate was open to all Muslims, Jews and converted Christians.
His determination to awe his people with Arms as well as Art led him to the very heights of both.
Loved and respected by his people, a feat difficult to accomplish, since Leaders are usually feared not loved. Under Suleyman the Muslims became the strongest people in Europe, if not the world. The Ottoman government which predated globalism by 470 years had shown itself in many instances more competent in statesmanship, finance and diplomacy than its rivals in Europe or in Asia.
Suleyman the Magnificent is a spellbinding but difficult subject. A writer must try to be impartial.It is difficult even after almost five centuries not to fall under Suleyman's magnetism.
This writer has felt the events and the protagonists living passionate and dramatic moments with the empathy of one who has come to learn that even the belief in reason can sometimes be precarious.
While we are all fragments of darkness groping for the light, Suleyman the Magnificent radiated more Light than most of us.
Author's note: The signature is based on a photograph of Suleyman's Signature or Tugra (pronounced Tura) made from a document on file in Topkapi Palace, (Topkapa) Istanbul: one of the many places I went to as part of my research into Suleyman's life. I spent more time in Istanbul than in any other place, except perhaps Rome and Malta.
THE FOLLOWING IS A TRANSLATION OF A LETTER SENT BY SULEYMAN TO HIS HOLINESS, POPE CLEMENT VII, THE MEDICI POPE, AT THE TIME A PRISONER IN CASTEL SANT'ANGELO, WHILE THE TROOPS OF HIS MOST IMPERIAL CATHOLIC MAJESTY,( KNOWN AS THE LANDSKNECHT), CHARLES THE V, SACKED ROME IN 1529.
TO THE REPRESENTATIVE OF JESUS IN ROME, HIS HOLINESS CLEMENT VII.
AN ABOMINABLE ACT HAS BEEN COMMITTED AGAINST YOUR PERSON AND AGAINST YOUR CHURCH.
IN THE NAME OF GOD, THE MERCIFUl, AND THE COMPASSIONATE: I, SULEYMAN, WILL SEND MY FLEET TO ANCONA AS A SIGN OF MY PROTECTION AFTER YOUR APPEAL.
I AM SULEYMAN CONQUEROR OF CONQUERORS, SLAVE OF GOD. PROTECTOR OF MUSLIMS, CHRISTIANS AND JEWS. IN MY NAME, THE HUTBE IS READ IN MECCA AND MEDINA PRAYERS ARE RECITED FOR ME IN THE SYNAGOGUES AND CHURCHES OF JERUSALEM AND ISTANBUL. IN IRAN, CENTRAL ASIA AND MESOPOTAMIA, I AM THE SHAH. IN CHRISTIAN LANDS I AM CAESAR. IN EGYPT, MY ADMIRALS SEND FLEETS TO THE SEAS OF EUROPE, AFRICA AND INDIA. I AM HE, WHO TOOK THE CROWN AND THRONE OF HUNGARY AND GRANTED THEM TO A GIFTED SLAVE. THE VOLVODA PYOTR OF RUSSIA, RAISED HIS HEAD IN REVOLT BUT MY HORSE'S HOOF GROUND HIM INTO THE DUST THUS SPEAKS SULEYMANN. AS GOD IS HIS WITNESS.
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