SINAN’S ISTANBUL: HASEKI SULTAN MOSQUEThe Haseki Sultan Mosque, situated in Haseki (known as Avratpazarı in the old times), was built by Sinan in 1539 for Hurrem Sultan, the wife of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Being the first work he built after he was named the chief architect of the empire, the Haseki Sultan Mosque bears a symbolic importance in Sinan’s long career.
Although there is not enough conclusive information about Hurrem Sultan’s (d. 1558) roots or her life before she entered the Ottoman palace, she is thought to be born at the beginning of 1500s in Ruthenia, within the borders of the Polish Kingdom. Brought to Istanbul in 1520s, she was accepted to Sultan Suleiman’s harem as a concubine and became Sultan’s favorite, with her wit and grace, rather than her beauty. She gave birth to six children from 1521 to 1531, five of whom were boys.
With the wedding ceremony between Hurrem Sultan and Sultan Suleiman in June 1534, she became the first woman in the Ottoman history, whom an Ottoman sultan officially married. Using to her growing influence in the palace after the marriage, she succeeded in being one of the most politically powerful women in the Ottoman Empire until her death. So much so that, the hundred-year period, known as the "Sultanate of Women" in the Ottoman history, whereby the wives and the mothers of the sultans were politically dominant in the empire, is accepted to begin with Hurrem Sultan.
Notwithstanding that the Haseki Sultan Mosque underlined Hurrem Sultan’s new position as the sultan’s wife, it is both unassertive and conservative in architectural terms. The mosque, which Sinan built on a square plan with a single dome and a single minaret, was expanded between 1612-1613 by Sedefkar Mehmet Aga, who was also the architect of the world-famous Sultanahmet Mosque. In the expansion process, an area covered by a dome with a diameter of 11.30-meter was added to the mosque.
The madrasa, which was built at the same time with the mosque, and the later-built children’s school, hospital, public kitchen, and the mosque itself together constitute the Haseki Sultan Complex. The Haseki Sultan Mosque was once a part of the complex, however today Haseki Avenue separates the mosque from the other buildings of the complex.
The Haseki Sultan Mosque is worth visiting, not only because it brings together two unique figures of the Ottoman history, but also because it bears signs of a humble start, which would later become glorious both for Hurrem Sultan and Sinan himself.