Selimiye Mosque in Edirne (World Heritage)

By | September 11, 2021

In addition to the Selimiye Mosque, the world heritage includes the adjoining building complex, the library, two Islamic schools, a bazaar and a historical cemetery. The mosque, completed in 1575, is considered a masterpiece by the architect Sinan, the court architect of Sultan Selim II, and marks a high point of Islamic architecture.

Selimiye Mosque in Edirne: facts

Official title: Selimiye Mosque in Edirne
Cultural monument: Selimiye Camii, the mosque of Sultan Selim II, was built by the famous architect Sinan from 1568-1574 on a hill in the city of Edirne, the then capital of the Ottoman Empire. four minarets over 80 m high around the mighty dome (diameter 31.28 m, apex height about 42 m), which rises above a structured rectangular hall with eight large arched pillars and a choir-like mihrab (prayer niche); magnificent interior with fine marble and the famous Iznik tiles; Overall facility (186 × 135 m) with arcade courtyard, two Islamic schools (madrasas), library, bazaar, cemetery
Continent: Asia
Country: Turkey
Location: Edirne, Western Turkey
Appointment: 2011
Meaning: Unique religious building and masterpiece of Islamic architecture; outstanding expression of the importance of the Ottoman Empire and Islam; artistic and extraordinary document of human development

An impressive masterpiece of Ottoman architecture

The imposing Selimiye Mosque with its mighty dome and four slender minarets is enthroned high on a hill. The building, commissioned by Sultan Selim II, dominates the cityscape of Edirne and is a reminder of the historical importance of the former capital of the Ottoman Empire. Fore more information about Turkey and Middle East, please visit computerdo.

Mimar (“master builder”) Sinan (* 1491, † 1588) was the most important architect in the Islamic world. 465 buildings – in addition to mosques, Koran schools, palaces, dervish monasteries, tombs, baths, aqueducts and bridges – were built according to his plans. The former military engineer was appointed court architect by Sultan Suleyman I (* 1494, † 1566), but it was his son and successor Selim II (* 1524, † 1574) who commissioned the building, which Sinan himself considered to be his Designated masterpiece. With the construction of the Selimiye Mosque, the sultan wanted to document that he led a godly life – among the people he was more known for extravagant celebrations and wine. The builder based his house of worship on no less a model than Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, which is around 1000 years older.

The highlight of the mosque is its dome, which Sinan says should be wider and higher than that of Hagia Sophia. In fact, with a diameter of 31.5 meters, it is the same size as the dome of its famous model and a little flatter. This in no way diminishes their effect, on the contrary: Sinan did without the semi-domes that relieve the dome in many other mosques. Instead, its dome is supported by just eight massive columns, giving the impression that it is floating completely free in space.

Since this construction also left more space for windows, the interior of the mosque is exceptionally bright. Inside, the dome is decorated with complex ornaments and calligraphies.

The four slender minarets of the mosque are visible from afar – the towers from which the muezzin calls to prayer five times a day. They are almost 83 meters high and have three whorls. Three winding spiral staircases in the two northern minarets lead to the individual galleries.

In the center of the prayer room – in other mosques it is placed on the side – there is a wooden platform on twelve pillars. The elaborate ornament painting from the 16th century has been preserved on the underside. The mihrab – the prayer niche that indicates the direction of prayer to Mecca – is made of almost white Marmara marble and can be seen from everywhere in the mosque. Like the sultan’s lodge in the northeast of the mosque, the mihrab is clad in precious Iznik faience. The minbar, the pulpit of the mosque, with its tiled cone cap is considered one of the most beautiful in Turkey.

Together with the surrounding buildings, the Selimiye Mosque is a prime example of an Ottoman Külliye: a complex of socio-religious buildings around a mosque. In front of the mosque there is a square forecourt, about the size of the church itself and lined with arcades. In this forecourt there is the cleaning fountain (Sadirvan), as it is typical for sacred Ottoman architecture. The upper border of the 16-sided open fountain is decorated with fine, openwork chisels. The Külliye around the Selimiye Mosque also includes a medrese (Koran school), which now houses a museum for Turkish-Islamic art, and a library in the east of the complex. The impressive complex was financed by a covered bazaar street below the hill.

Selimiye Mosque in Edirne (World Heritage)