The Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent.

Süleymaniye, Mosque, Istanbul, Sultan, Suleyman, Architecture, Islam,
The Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul.

The Süleymaniye Mosque (Turkish: Süleymaniye Camii) is one of the great mosques in İstanbul. It was built by order of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent in a very short construction period between the years 1550 and 1557 and is an important work of the architect Sinan.


The Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul. Built by order of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent.

The Franks have so changed the terms of the Turkish language, that they are hardly to be recognized. Moslem, which signifies a “professor of the true faith,” they have corrupted into Mussulman, and Mesjid, the temple in which he worshipped, into mosque!

When the Turks appropriated to themselves the great Christian church of Santa Sophia, they made it the model of all their future religious edifices. The general outline is a Greek cross, enclosed ill a quadrangle. This is surmounted with a large dome in the centre, to represent, as the modern Greeks say, the great wound in our Saviour’s side; the four smaller domes at the angles, depicting the smaller wounds in his hands and feet.

This form the Turks usually observe, without any reference to its origin; but they have added members peculiar to themselves. They hold bells in abhorrence, and invite their congregations to prayer by the human voice only. For this purpose certain slender towers shoot up from the angles of the edifice, where the Muezzin ascends by interior stairs, and from a circular gallery round the shaft calls together the faithful. These towers are denominated Menar or Minareh, an Arabic word which signifies a “beacon or light-house” to guide the true believer.

Note:  An Arab Sheikh in traditional costume. The Oriental Album.

The Muezzin puts his hands behind his ears, and from the hollow of his palms shouts out his invitation, walking round and repeating to the four points of the compass, “There is but one God, and Mohammed is his prophet:-come to prayers-come to salvation.” This cry, called the Ezan, is repeated five times a day at regular intervals; and as it issues from every minaret, and perhaps two thousand mouths at the same moment, it fills all the air with a solemn and supernatural sound, and regulates all the arrangements of the people, who have no public clocks to direct them.

Besides the common mosque of the city, there are thirteen eminently distinguished. They are called Djami Selatyn, or “Imperial mosques,” because they have been erected by some sultan as the highest act of piety. They are always distinguished by their magnitude, magnificence, and the number and beauty of their minarets. While the smaller mosques have but one, they have never less than two, and generally four. But of all these Djami, that erected by Soliman II. is the most splendid among the mosques, as its founder was among the sultans. He was called” the magnificent,” and his temple justifies the appellation.

Koerner, Valide, Solimanie, Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey, Architecture, Islam,
Ernst Karl Koerner. Valide and Solimanie Mosque, Istanbul Turkey.

The Christian church of Saint Euphemia, at Chalcedon, in which the grand council had been held, was celebrated for its size and architectural ornaments. It contained on that memorable occasion 630 bishops in its nave, and was the most distinguished of Christian churches after Santa Sophia: when that edifice was dedicated to the Prophet by his predecessor, Soliman could not appropriate any of its parts to his new erection; so he dilapidated the church of St. Euphemia for the purpose, and built his mosque with its materials. It was commenced in 1550, and took five years to build it.

Note:  Orders of monks and nuns. Historical religious habit of the Orient.

It would be difficult to convey, by any description, a perfect idea of a building so vast and complicated. A notice of its prominent features must suffice. It is a quadrangle, 234 feet long, and 227 wide. The great dome by which the edifice is surmounted, is flanked or supported by two hemispheres, one on each side, and over each aisle are four smaller ones. A broad flight of marble steps leads to the great door, before which is a facade, which particularly distinguishes this temple. It consists of six pillars of Egyptian porphyry, of immense size and singular beauty.

Attached to the edifice are four minarets in front and rear, having galleries ornamented with tracery; and by a singular irregularity, two, having but two galleries, are shorter than the others which have three. Beside it are splendid mausolea, surmounted with domes, under which repose the bodies of the founder and his Sultana. At the head stands a knob covered with his turban, richly ornamented with precious stones, and near it is suspended the Alcoran, from which an Imam reads a daily portion, for the consolation of him whose ashes repose in tho tomb, and who is supposed to hear it. Over one of the gates is an inscription recording its erection. It states that it was built by “the glorious Vicar of Allah, existing by the authority of the mystic Koran, the tenth of the Ottoman emperors, for the faithful people who served the Lord.” It concludes with a prayer, “That the imperial race may never be interrupted on earth, and enjoy eternal delights prepared in paradise.”

Note:  The ancient Greek city of Posidonia or Paestum in Magna Graecia.

This mosque, like most others, is surrounded by two areas; one of which, planted with trees, is a common thoroughfare usually filled with groups of people. Here soldiers sometimes encamp, and men of war pitch their tents within the precincts of the mussulman’s God of peace. Here, also, small merchants expose their wares, and no one casts out those who “buy and sell.” Here even a Giaour (Infidel) may pass unobstructed, and the infidel hat be seen mixed with the sacred turban.

Solimanie, Mosque, Istanbul, Sultan,Soliman, Architecture, Islam,
Solimanie, or Mosque of Sultan Soliman.

Source: Constantinople and the scenery of the seven churches of Asia Minor illustrated. In a Series of drawings from nature by Thomas Allom (1804-1872). With an historical account of Constantinople, and descriptions of the plates by the Rev. Robert Walsh LL.D. (1772-1852). Fisher, Son, & Co, 1839. Newgate St., London; & Quai de L’Ecole, Paris.


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