A beauty outstanding even among all those domes and minarets that define the skyline of Istanbul, the Suleymaniye Mosque is the largest and most in the city. It facinates every visitor with the aesthetic supremancy of its interior and exterior, and its harmonious and pleasant proportions. By all standards,the Suleymaniye Mosque is an architectural masterpiece.
In the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire was at its peak and the zenith of the century is the forty-sevenyear reign (the longest ever in the Ottoman Empire) of Sultan Suleyman the Magnifient. The great sultan had recrutited the famous Turkish architect SINAN to plan and build a mosque bearing his own name. SINAN, a genius of the world of architecture and the founder/benefactor of the Turkish classical school of architecture, completed the huge mosque complex that also included schools, a library, a Turkish bath, a public kitchen, a caravanserai,a hospital and shops. It was built between the years 1550 and 1557,thus proving that he indeed deserved the title of ‘’Great’’ that was granted to him.
On has to stand at a distance to appreciate fully the exterior beauty of the Suleymaniye Mosque. The best site for this is Goldon Horn, especially the Galata Tower. The nave of the four-minaret imperial mosque is covered by a huge dome. The main entrance to the mosque is reached by passing through an inner courtyard with a symbolic ablution fountain at the center and porticoes on all sides. The spaciousness and unity of the nave of the mosque and the rather subtle decoration of the interior walls all contribute to an aura of dignified grandeur. The central cupola, 53m. High at the keystone and 26,50m.
In diameter is supported by four pendentives on four pillars .All the architectural elements consitituting the dome are in proper harmony. The static balance, too, is perfect. The numerous earthquakes that shook the 15the century did not cause even a single crack. The iner surface of the dome is decorated with baroque painting from the 19th century. The handmade carpet on the nave is new having been given to the mosque in the 1960’s.The most eye-catching element of the interior decor is the original stained-glass Windows of Turkish motifs on the wall of the mihrab (prayer niche). The incospicuous little chanter’s balcony is at the front of pulpit. The walls around the minber (pulpit) near the mihrab are decorated with beautiful ceramic tiles. The Sultan’s Box is to the left of the mihrab. The walls of the mosque adorned with verses from the KORAN are regarded as ultimate in the Turkish art of calligraphy. Along the walls of the mosque, with the exception of southern wall, there are balconies for women.
The brass gril to the right of the entrance is a typical example of 18the century craftsman ship Inthe forecourt of mosque,the tombs of Sultan Suleyman and Roxelane, his favourite wife,lie side by side.And at one corner of the Suleymaniye Complex, there is a smal and humble grave where rests SINAN the Great, the gandmaster of Turkish architecture who spent fifty years of his ninet-nine years as the chief architect of powerful empire.