Suleymaniye Mosque…what a community center!

Built on the third hill of Istanbul, the mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent took 8 years, from 1550 to 1558, to build.  It is a masterpiece of architecture, by the peerless Mimar Sinan. Sinan Sinan, born “Joseph”, in a small town in Anatolia, is of murky origin, with scholars claiming him to be Albanian, Greek or Armenian in turn.  In any case, he was originally Christian, but recruited by the “devshirme” system to be educated in the Sultan’s service as a Janissary.  He may have served in the last campaign of Selim I (” the Grim”), but most of his career was served under Suleyman the Magnificent. A talented soldier and engineer, his lasting legacy is the 374 structures he designed and built. 

This mosque, the largest in Istanbul, stands out as a stunning reminder of his genius.

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The interior is equally impressive, with intricate bronze, inlaid ivory and tiles, and gorgeous calligraphy. IMG_3647[1] IMG_3650[1]IMG_3631[1]

And the fascinating use of Ostrich eggs as spider and bug repellents was new to me.  What a lovely way to keep the critters out!IMG_3636[1]

But finally, the mosque is what it has always been– a community center.  These boys, at what we might see as the equivalent of “Vacation Bible School”….(Vacation Madrasah?) were very cute as they practiced their prayers, especially the young prayer leader, whose voice was strong and determined.  I’m just sorry I didn’t get a similar photo of the girls, who were around the corner in another niche.IMG_3634[1]

(that’s Randall, a fellow Colorado teacher, gesturing at some fascinating sight across the mosque)

My first mosque visit in Turkey was a lovely experience, and the courtyard and cemetery outside the mosque were equally interesting.IMG_3657[1] IMG_3659[1]

Then…it was off to our first cultural, artistic visit…

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