SINAN’S ISTANBUL: MIHRIMAH SULTAN MOSQUE (USKUDAR)Located at the Iskele Square in Üsküdar, the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque was commissioned by Sultan Suleiman’s daughter, Mihrimah Sultan. Although it has been stated in various sources (including 17th c. Ottoman traveller Evliya Çelebi’s travelbook, Seyahatname) that the mosque was commissioned by Sultan Suleiman for his daughter, it has been clearly shown in Gülru Necipoğlu’s seminal work, The Age of Sinan, that the patron of the mosque was actually Mihrimah Sultan herself.
Though not exactly known, it is accepted that Mihrimah Sultan was born in 1522. After marrying Rustem Pasha, who then was the governor of Diyarbekir province, Mihrimah Sultan became one of the two most powerful women in the palace together with her mother Hurrem Sultan. Her influence grew when Rustem Pasha was named the grand vizier in 1544. After the death of her mother in 1558, Mihrimah Sultan became the most powerful woman in the empire and she stayed so until she passed away in 1578. She was buried near his father Sultan Suleiman’s tomb in the courtyard of the Suleymaniye Mosque.
Built between 1540-1547, the mosque was a part of the Mihrimah Sultan complex where a madrasa, a hospital, a children’s school, a kitchen and a public bath were also found. Today, the madrasa building serves as the Mihrimah Sultan Medical Center, while the children’s school building serves as the Mihrimah Sultan Children's Library. Unfortunately, the other structures in the complex could not reach to this day.
Sitting on a slope overlooking the Üsküdar Iskele Square, the rectangular-planned mosque has two minarets, each with a single balcony. The five-domed portico, which extends from the north-western axis of the main entrance gate, is carried by six columns. The inscription on the top of the main gate mentions Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and Mihrimah Sultan as the patrons of the mosque.
The main dome of the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, which is one of Sinan's early works, is supported by three half domes. The main dome, which measures 24.2 meters in height and 11.4 meters in diameter, has sixteen stained-glass windows. It is accepted that the light and spacious atmosphere of the prayer area, which is directly entered from the main gate, is a conscious choice made by Sinan, taking into account the meaning of Mihrimah—the original Persian word "Mihr ü mah" consists of two words, meaning "the Sun and the Moon").