The Suleymaniye mosque was truly a masterpiece during the time it was built in the mid 1500s. Today, it still never fails to captivate its audience through the complexity of its design and the intellectual analysis of its significance. The mosque was actually said to be as magnificent as the Seven Wonders of the World according to two European travelers, Freynes Moryson and John Sanderson, soon after its completion (Nelipogulu 221). The mosque is definitely symbolic in the city of Istanbul, sitting a top the highest hill, in that it represents central power and strength of the Turkish Empire (see Image 1) (Yayinlari 30). As we take a closer look at the Suleymaniye we see many aspects of religion through its sensual and visual experience. We also find a great deal of complexity, from the contradictory aspects Sinan applied to the mosque, throughout a more in depth intellectual analysis.
The general structure of the Suleymaniye mosque mirrors that of many Islamic mosques, but Sinan's work shows that it can remain a unique piece of architecture. The mosque is designed around a central axis. The length is running from north to south while the width spans east to west. This is appropriate for the purpose of the building, where Muslims must face the cardinal direction of Mecca during prayer (Freely 124). Sinan further emphasizes the north and south direction by place two short pillars on the north end and two taller ones on the south end (see Image 2) (Nelipoglu 212). Looking at the plan of the Suleymaniye we see a definite presence of geometry (see Image 3). The mosque is made up of spherical and rectangular shapes, as well as series of arches along the facades. The main, central dome is further magnified by the surrounding half domes. This draws the attention towards the center (Goodwin 35). The dome becomes the spiritual focus, representing God's "unity without distinctions" (Freely 128). Sinan focused on a harmonious connection of the dome to...
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