Reaching for the Heavens
August 14, 2008 12:38 PM   Subscribe

Mimar Sinan; 16th century Ottoman Architect Mimar Sinan born a Christian in Anatolia, from either a Greek or Armenian background, was conscripted into Ottoman service in 1511, and converted to Islam. He was the chief Ottoman architect to four sultans. Sinan worked in seismic, as well as political, fault zones, and his buildings are famous for their earthquake resistance. His extraordinary output included 146 mosques.

The "Apprentice Work": - The Sehzade mosque.
The "Qualification Work" : - The Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul's greatest, covers almost 25 acres and includes in addition to the large mosque (basilica plan), four schools (medreses), a hospice, public baths (hamam), a hospital & dispensary, bookshops, a library, the Sultans’ tomb (turbe) and the worlds first teaching asylum (bimarhane).
The Solaris. The decorative inscriptions on the dome are by the famous callgrapher Ahmet Karahisari . Round window with glasswork by Ibrahim the drunkard.
The "Masterpiece" : - The Selimiye Mosque in Edirne.
wiki Sinan

Legacy of Suleymaniye the Magnificent:
I, who am Sultan of the Sultans of East and West, fortunate lord of the domains of the Romans, Persians, and Arabs, Hero of creation, Neriman of the earth and time, Padishah and Sultan of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, of the extolled Kaab a and Medina the illustrious and Jerusalem of the noble, of the throne of Egypt and the province of Yemen, Aden, and San'a, of Baghdad and Basra and Lhasa and Ctesiphon, of the lands of Algiers and Azerbaijan, of the region of the Kipshaks and the lands o f the Tartars, of Kurdistan and Luristan and all Rumelia, Anatolia and Karaman, of Wallachia and Moldavia and Hungary and many kingdoms and lands besides; the Sultan Suleyman Khan, son of the Sultan Selim Khan.. Related .
posted by adamvasco (7 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Truly a feast for the eyes. Thanks, adamvasco.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:48 PM on August 14, 2008

Beautiful mosques, these easily stand with the great cathedrals of France.
posted by Mister_A at 1:48 PM on August 14, 2008

This is a lovely post, but you've forgotten to point out that Sinan was also a well-regarded teacher, and part of his legacy must surely include the work his students did, including what's possibly the most famous bit of architecture in my native country, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Stari Most or "The Old Bridge At Mostar," a point of pride for Bosnians.

I quote from Wikipedia:

Charged under pain of death to construct a bridge of such unprecedented dimensions, the architect (my note: Hayruddin, a student of Sinan) reportedly prepared for his own funeral on the day the scaffolding was finally removed from the completed structure. Upon its completion it was the widest man-made arch in the world. Certain associated technical issues remain a mystery: how the scaffolding was erected, how the stone, egg and flour was transported from one bank to the other, how the scaffolding remained sound during the long building period. As a result, this bridge can be classed among the greatest architectural works of its time.

The bridge was destroyed by Croats in 1993. It's since been beautifully rebuilt (using most of the original stone, salvaged from the river below) and although it still pains me to think anyone could willingly destroy such a beautiful work of man, the truth is you'd never know it was ever destroyed, so faithful is the reconstruction to the original.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:00 PM on August 14, 2008 [2 favorites]

Dee Xtrovert: I saw a documentary on the reconstruction of Stari Most. If I recall, the construction firm contracted to rebuild the bridge was a Turkish company, and on the commencement day a goat was slaughtered to bring good luck to the project.

Apparently the fact that Turks were brought in to do the work irritated the Christian (Croat?) population.
posted by claudius at 7:59 PM on August 14, 2008

Mostar is roughly half- Muslim Bosnian and half-Croat (who are mostly Catholics.) Milosević and Tuđjman (who were, respectively, the leaders of Serbia and Croatia) had originally worked out a deal à la Hitler and Stalin did to carve up Poland, only with Bosnia as their objective. (Roughly speaking, Bosnia lies between the two.)

This deal fell apart pretty quickly, and Serbia occupied Mostar, which is in Bosnia, but quite close to Croatia. Muslim Bosnians and Croats from both Croatia and Bosnia eventually got rid of the Serbs, but soon after the Croats decided to turn on the Bosnian Muslims and appropriate Mostar for Croatia.

Blowing up the bridge was a hugely symbolic event, as it signified the eradication of Bosnian Muslims, who are (to oversimplify) the spiritual descendants of the culture and faith that the Ottoman Empire brought to Bosnia. As the bridge was a truly Ottoman achievement, its destruction symbolized the victory of Christian forces over Islamic forces (which, coming several hundred years after the fact, only makes sense to real zealots.)

When Mostar was reunited with the rest of Bosnia and a less one-sided governmental rule was established (Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Muslims jointly administer Mostar and the vicinity), many nations were willing to help finance the rebuilding of the bridge, which was not an easy feat (architecturally and financially.) I could be a little biased, but when reconstruction was handled largely by a Turkish firm, it seemed right . . . they'd built it in the first place! There was a Croatian company who wanted the job, but it seemed odd to award a hugely profitable contract to a nation who'd destroyed the bridge to begin with.

From the local Croat perspective, the awarding of a Turkish company to rebuild the bridge was a sort of symbolic victory of Islamic forces over Christian ones, I suppose! But in reality, both Croats and Muslims are proud of the bridge, which truly is a beautiful thing.

And the proof is in the pudding, as they say. The bridge looks just like it did. I know it's just a bridge, but to see it in person is to really experience the majesty of its creation; it really has a magical feel. My father, before I was born, was one of those brave (or foolish) men who would dive off it into the shallow water, once a year, as a prelude to a fishing trip. I imagine my mother put an end to it once they were married or once I was born, but his name is on the official list of divers . . . and he didn't stop the fishing trips!

I've seen the bridge twice in my life. Once when I was a young girl, and I was mesmerized by the divers - well, pretty scared, actually! They take up a collection before they jump and when it's believed they have "enough" (whatever that is), they jump. This sometimes takes a half hour or more, so you can imagine the anticipation as the crown of onlookers grows and people start whispering, I thinking he's going to jump! Watch!

Then I saw it again, last year. Mostar's gotten a bit touristy, but the bridge is great.

But I hate to derail this thread, because the work of Sinan is to me the embodiment of the word beauty and deserves more notice. For many people in Bosnia who manage just once to visit outside the country, it's quite often to go to Turkey to see these mosques firsthand, and popular for honeymooners, too!
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 8:58 PM on August 14, 2008 [2 favorites]

I think Turkish architecture is some of the most beautiful ever done. Thanks for this.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:01 PM on August 14, 2008

Dee - I think that if I was adding more I would still be working on this post; there is so much here to explain - maybe the geometricals of the designs or the fact that Sinan was a Janissary or slave. The fact that the Suleymaniye complex had one of the first medical madrassa's and much much more. Enjoy.
posted by adamvasco at 3:48 AM on August 15, 2008

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