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Suleymaniye Mosque Istanbul Turkey عمارة إسلامية Islamic Architecture

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عمارة إسلامية, Islamic architecture is expressed through the splendor of building designs, decorative structural patterns, building embellishments, colours, and furniture styles. Some of these are depicted in Islamic mosques’ well-to-do. Nevertheless, spectators for architectural drawings are unaware that Islamic architecture developed as a result of the synthesis of different artistic influences from a number of cultures. The chances are high that most young men and women, especially those who are studying to learn more of Mosque structural designs will have to go over the records historically similar to that of the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.


Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey concretely shows evidence of the magnificence, magnitude, and depth of the Islamic architecture. The edifice was the seven years masterpiece work led by the Ottoman engineer, Mimar Sinan in the year 1550 to 1557. Mimar Sinan studied one of the model edifices, the Hagia Sophia Church, with great interest. Hagia Sophia Church is the Byzantine Church of Divine Wisdom which the Ottomans used as a house of prayer at the beginning of their occupation in Turkey (Jackh, 1952; Turkey, 2006).

The Dome of the Rock Mosque in Jerusalem built in 643, however, set the first standards for subsequent Mosque architecture in the Islamic sphere of influence (Hitchcock, Lloyd, Rice, Lynton, Boyd, and Carden, 1963). Departing from the four-sided building of the Kaaba which was constructed by Abraham and Ismael, peace is upon them, the Dome of the Rock Mosque is shaped in a building (Hitchcock et al., 1963) on top of the hill.

Dome of the Rock Mosque

Source: Title: World Architecture: An Illustrated History; Publisher: McGraw-Hill; Publication Date: 1963; Page No: 149 (Hitchcock et al., 1963).


Source: Title: World Architecture: An Illustrated History; Publisher: McGraw-Hill; Publication Date: 1963;Page No: 149 (Hitchcock et al., 1963).

During the Ottoman reign over Turkey, from 1288 to 1923, the organized sultanate took over properties which were left behind by the Byzantine monarchs. A few of these are the buildings with its arts and architecture. The structures, as well as the adornments, very well portrayed influences not only of Byzantine art but also from the Seljuk Turks. The Seljuks’ ruled Turkey from 1071 to the 1300ths. The Seljuks’ introduced some skills and architectural designs they must have picked up from Persia and Anatolia. Although some of the structures were refurbished from one set of the colonizer to the next, some served as models for the construction of buildings that were called Ottoman Mosques (Hitchcock et al., 1963).

Suleymaniye Imperial Mosque is one of the currently known iconic architectural layout outputs. The Mosque was named after Suleiman, the sultan of the era. Four prominent external minarets, dome-shaped roof, prayer hall, iwan, sahn, and garden were decorated in the structure (Essential Architecture, Asia-West, 2009). The floor plan reveals an architecturally square structure (Hitchcock etal.1963).

Mosque Map

Source: Essential Architecture, Asia-West, 2009

World Architecture

Source: Title: World Architecture: An Illustrated History; Publisher: McGraw-Hill; Publication Date: 1963; Page No: 162 (Hitchcock et al., 1963).

The Edifice sits over the hill, overlooking the bay of turkey with two pairs of tall circular minarets (Hitchcock et al., 1963), and ten verandas visible at a certain distance (Turkey, 2006).

Essential ArchitectureSource: Essential Architecture, Asia-West, 2009

World ArchitectureSource: Title: World Architecture: An Illustrated History; Publisher:McGraw-Hill; Publication; Date: 1963; Page No: 162 (Hitchcock et al., 1963)

Seemingly, the four tall circular minarets (Hitchcock et al., 1963) serve also as a guide for seafarers to quickly locate the Mosque. But, in Islam, the towering spires are the platforms for the Muezzin to stand on and be heard by the majority of believers during the azan and iqamat. This is in line with the words of the prophet, Sallallahu Allahi wassalam that “all the earth has been rendered for Muslims, a Mosque” (Saqib, 1993).  So, wherever the believer maybe, after hearing the azan and iqamat, it is compulsory for the faithful to perform the salat.

World Architecture

Source: Title: World Architecture: An Illustrated History; Publisher:McGraw-Hill; Publication Date: 1963; Page No: 152 (Hitchcock et al., 1963)

One huge central dome-shaped roof, about 53 meters from the floor (Turkey, 2006), caps the core of the prayer hall.This is surrounded by four smaller domes, about half the size of the central domes. Additionally, these are encircled by smaller domes. Four exceptionally gigantic triangular arching pillars support the large central dome. The sides of the posts are faintly ridged and covered with colourful stalactites to refract light and create an ‘ornamental drama’ (Hitchcock et al., 1963).

This عمارة إسلامية, Islamic architecture of the Suleymaniye imperial Mosque incorporates a wide range of lay and sacred designs. This dome is a classic copy of the Hagia Sophia Church (Jackh, 1952; Turkey, 2006; Essential Architecture, Asia-West, 2009; Getty Images, 2009). The floor plan of the Suleymaniye imperial Mosque was square (Hitchcock et al., 1963), which was approximately 3,420 m2 (Turkey, 2006).  So, the area roofed with a dome was trimmed down into a polygon of eight angles with corresponding eight sides using interconnected semicircle that is provided with inner corbels (Hitchcock et al., 1963).

World Architecture

Source: Title: World Architecture: An Illustrated History;Publisher: McGraw-Hill; Publication Date: 1963; Page No: 161(Hitchcock et al., 1963)

World Architecture

Source: Title: World Architecture: An Illustrated History;Publisher: McGraw-Hill; Publication Date: 1963; Page No: 161(Hitchcock et al., 1963)

A closer view of the outer side of the dome would reveal hundreds of small rectangular blocks are creating a smooth glass-like surface making the structure very visible at a certain distance, somehow looking glamorous for a gold crown.


Source: Alaturkaturkey, 2009

Getty Images

Source: Getty Images, 2009

The internal view of the mosque would reveal the vast Arabesques’ calligraphy of quotations from the Qur’an. This is done in a rainbow of paint, colours and materials at the core, apparently of Persian influence (Hitchcock et al., 1963). Varied floral designs are also hand-painted on the sides of the dome to camouflage about 138 open windows (Turkey, 2006). The dome alone is supported by archway pillars (Essential Architecture, 2009).  The components are made up of feldspar crystals fixed and packed together with excellent grained base materials. The two posts were known to have been crafted in Alexandria, Egypt. Conversely, the other pair was collected from a palace and a church in Istanbul (Turkey, 2006).

Essential Architecture

Source: Essential Architecture, 2009

Right below the dome is the prayer hall, matted with marble tiles, enhanced by a large and colourful prayer carpet. This area is facing Makka. It is also clear that besides the Arabesques’ calligraphy, the arching pillars, and the lightings, large windows with coloured glass panes are provided to irradiate the prayer hall. There are no images within the perimeter of the room. But, a personal pulpit stands by the place where the imam or the leader of the prayer stands to deliver the quota (Jackh, 1952). Unlike the Hagia Sophia church, tombs and images of angels and saints were not constructed on the spot. This is because Islam forbids the performance of salat in front of monuments or pictures, and the Mosque serves the sole purpose of community prayers (Saqib, 1993).

Essential ArchitectureSource: Essential Architecture, 2009

Another essential part of the Suleymaniye imperial Mosque is the patio. This particular area is located at the back yard of the Mosque. The domain contains the bathrooms and faucets of clean flowing water which provide worshipers with the opportunity to perform proper abadas before their entrance to the prayer hall through the iwan (Alaturkaturkey, 2009). The iwan is the main entry structure leading to the prayer hall. This is the area where the worshipers leave their footwear (Saqib, 1993). A pair of arching door frames mark it.


Despite the expressiveness of architectural designs of Islamic Mosque, mainly influenced by the Eastern Christians and the Sassanians (Jackh, 1952) as exemplified by the Suleymaniye imperial Mosque, extra care must be taken in its structural design. This is to avoid the suggestions of idol worship, which is prohibited in the Islamic faith. Every Muslim believer know that the Quran is evident with the first design of a Mosque exemplified by the Kaaba which was constructed by Abraham and his son Ismael, May peace be upon them, under Allah’s guidance.


  • Hitchcock, H. R., Lloyd, S., Rice, D. T., Lynton, N., Boyd, A., Carden, A., et al. (1963). World Architecture: An Illustrated History. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Jackh, E. (1952). Background of the Middle East. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University.
  • Saqib, M.A.K.  (1993)  A Guide To Prayer In Islam. Madinah, K.S.A. : International Islamic Publishing House. Websites Alaturkaturkey. http://www.alaturkaturkey.com/index.php?view=turkey-istanbul-sights-and-attractions-suleymaniye-mosque 6/8/09.
  • Essential Architecture Asia-West. http://www.essential-architecture.com/ASIA-WEST/WA-TU/istanbul/WA-TU-IST-002.htm rets: 6/8/09.
  • Essential Architecture. http://www.essential-architecture.com/TYPE/TYPE-mosque.htm rets: 6/8/09.
  • Getty Images. http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/73025730/Panoramic-Images rets: 6/8/09.
  • Turkey(2006).http://www.aboutturkey.com/turkey/City_Guides/Istanbul_Turkey/Suleymaniye_mosque.shtml rets: 6/8/09.

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