The Symbol of the Ottoman Empire: Selimiye Mosque

Edirne was the third capital of the Ottoman Empire for 84 years, from 1369 to 1453 and now, it is a beautiful city in the Thrace region of Turkey, on the borders with Greece and Bulgaria and known for its impressive historical buildings and cullinary haritage.

Selimiye Mosque, which is a unique structure with its four slender minarets and magnificent dome, can be seen in all its splendor from all over Edirne. It is the work of one of the most famous architects of the world history, Mimar Sinan.

The construction of the mosque started in 1568 with the order of Selim II and it took 7 years and hard work of thousands of people to complete. It is regarded as the most important work of the Ottoman architecture and has been described by Mimar Sinan as his “masterpiece”.

At the four corners of Selimiye Mosque, which attracts attention with its monumental appearance, there are four elegant minarets, each 85,67 meters high.  Every one of these slim minarets contains three sherefes and three stairways, each leading to a different platform (sherefe), and also as an astonishing design feature, these stairways are completely independent from each other. In other words, in each minaret there are three staircases that reach seperate platforms without overlapping each other.

The dome is admirable with its exterior appearance, but its real gorgeousness can only be seen after entering the mosque. With a height of 42.30 meters and a diameter of 31.30 meters, Selimiye’s  dome is the most spectacular example of its era. It is carried by 8 pillars, each supported by a 6 meters wide arch. With a inner surface of 1620 square meters, Selimiye is the largest mosque in Turkey.

The magnificent architecture of the mosque continues with the visual feast created by the ornaments. The pulpit and its niche are pointed out as masterpieces of marble workmanship. The tile decorations of the mosque are also admirable. Tiles were produced in Iznik, the most important tile production center of the period. 101 different tulip patterns were used in these decorations.

Selimiye Mosque is also the center of a complex: three madrasahs (educational institutions) called Darül Sıbyan, Darül Kurra and Darül Hadis, a muvakkithane (a timing room to determine the time of prayer, and at the same time, to conduct astronomical studies) and a library are located in the outer courtyard that surrounds the mosque.

Covering the western edge of the mosque, an “Arasta” (covered bazaar with a series of shops ) was built to provide income to the mosque and to support the mosque platform with a retaining wall. It was originaly designed as a single row of shops by Mimar Sinan. Afterwards, during the time of Murat III, architect Davut Ağa constructed another row of shops across the ones that were build by Sinan, which gave the arasta its current shape.

Selimiye Mosque and its complex was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2011.

Our Edirne tour is very  populer among our guests who are staying in Istanbul for more than 3-4 days or who are visiting Istanbul for the second/third time.  Please contact us for details!

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