SİNAN’S İSTANBUL: ŞEMSİ AHMET PASHA MOSQUEGreat American architect Frank Lloyd Wright once wrote: "Two architects have come on earth. The first one is the Ottoman architect Sinan and the other one is myself."
From a certain point of view, it seems like these two geniuses are connected two one another with a thin string that transcends centuries. It is no coincidence that unity, simplicity and harmony seen in Sinan’s works are also the pillars of Wright’s organic architecture approach. In that regard, among Sinan’s works, Şemsi Ahmet Paşa Complex situated at the shore of Bosphorus, in Üsküdar, is one of the most striking examples that combines unity, simplicity and harmony as put forward by Wright.
In the Şemsi Ahmet Paşa Complex, other than the mosque, which was completed in 1580 according to the inscription on its entrance, there is a madrasa used today as a library, Şemsi Ahmet Paşa’s tomb and a graveyard where his relatives are buried. Being the son of an Ottoman sultana and Kızıl Ahmedzade Mirza Paşa of the Isfendiyaroğulları (a prominent chiefdom under Ottoman rule), Şemsi Ahmet Paşa rose to the grand vizier post at the time of Sultan Murad III.
Built with cut stone, the mosque rises on a square plan. The transition to the main dome, with a diameter of 8 meters, is achieved by four half-domes and four arched windows. Nine beautiful stained-glass windows on four walls let daylight in. Şemsi Paşa’s tomb, which is crowned by a mirror vault, is adjacent to the mosque, a rarely seen application.
In the L-shaped madrasa building, together with twelve domed-cells, there is a large classroom at the center of the long wing. Today the classroom serves as the reading room of the Şemsi Paşa Public Library, which houses almost fifty-thousand books in its collection.
Frank Lloyd Wright went on talking about the great architect of Şemsi Ahmet Paşa Mosque: "Sinan was a contemporary of Italian Michelangelo. While the cracks on the dome... built by Michelangelo are being repaired by iron hoops by the blacksmiths of Rome. Sinan’s temples will stand until Doomsday." We don’t know for how long Sinan’s temples will stand, but while they are standing we know for sure that they will enchant us.