SINAN’S ISTANBUL: ŞEHZADE MOSQUEKayseri-born Grand Architect Sinan Aga was 48 years old when Sultan Suleiman declared him the imperial architect in 1538. Over the next fifty years, nearly five hundred buildings designed by Sinan would give a new face to the vast empire geography, particularly to Istanbul. Among the 196 works that have survived until today, the Şehzade Mosque in Vefa has a unique place.
The Şehzade Mosque, which was commissioned by Sultan Suleiman for his son who died at the age of 22, was the first mosque designed by Sinan for the members of the Ottoman dynasty. It is said that Sultan Suleiman mourned for 40 days at the temporary tomb of Prince Mehmet whom Sultan Suleiman chose to rule the empire after him.
Rising at the same spot, the Şehzade Mosque was one of the most ambitious works of Sinan, although it was the first selatin (dynasty) mosque he built.
The nineteen-meter high and thirty-seven-meter wide central dome, and four half-domes supporting it are all carried by four huge columns. Like Sinan's later works, the interior of the Şehzade Mosque is designed with a simple but subtle taste. The traditional patterns created by the Iznik tiles in the middle of the dome and half-domes are particularly striking.
Completed in 1548 and containing a madrasa, a guesthouse, a public kitchen and six tombs, the Şehzade Mosque is generally considered as Sinan’s first masterpiece. The graceful design of the mosque is almost an indication in terms of the design of the mosques Sinan would build later on.
The well-preserved tile works found on the tombs of Şehzade Mehmet, and Sultan Suleiman’s two favorite grand viziers, İbrahim Pasha and Rustem Pasha, bear a brilliant workmanship that could only be seen on the buildings that belong to the members of the dynasty.
Being Sinan’s first grand work and one of the most important accomplishments of the Ottoman architectural history, the Şehzade Mosque is waiting for the visitors.