SINAN'S ISTANBUL: SINAN PASHA MOSQUEOn September 28, 1538, Saturday, the Ottoman Navy under the command of Grand Admiral Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha came face to face with the Habsburg Navy led by Genovese Grand Admiral Andrea Doria in the south west of Greece, where the Adriatic and the Mediterranean meet.
While victoriously returning to Istanbul from the Battle of Preveza without losing a single galley, Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha was bringing with him thirty-six Habsburg galleys and three thousand prisoners of war. From then onwards he became a naval legend. Just across the tomb of Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha, at Beşiktaş Iskele Square, rises the Sinan Pasha Mosque, built by Sinan for Grand Admiral Sinan Pasha (d. 1553).
After the death of Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha, his tomb had become a part of a ritual for the Ottoman Navy where seamen would visit the tomb, before every campaign. The Sinan Pasha Mosque was instantly merged into this tradition after its completion in 1556. The sailors and commanders of the Ottoman Navy began to perform their last prayers at the Sinan Pasha Mosque before heading for a campaign.
Sinan Pasha was brought to Topkapı Palace as a devshirme (recruited Christian children who ultimately become a member of the Janissaries) at a young age, with his older brother, who would soon become Rustem Pasha, the famous and mighty grand vizier of Sultan Sulieman. Sinan Pasha, who became grand admiral in 1550—partly thanks to his influential older brother—, died in 1553, before the construction of his mosque started.
The Sinan Pasha Mosque is an homage to the Üç Şerefeli Mosque (1447) in Edirne. In the construction of the walls of the Sinan Pasha Mosque, which, in terms of planning, could be considered the twin of the Üç Şerefeli Mosque—except for the scale and proportion—, a combination of stone and brick was used, rather than cut stone Sinan used at the other mosques he built for the grand admirals. The death of Sinan Pasha before the beginning of the construction, resulted in the fact that the Sinan Pasha Mosque remained somewhat modest compared to the other buildings of its era.
Sitting on six columns, the 12,60-meter-wide central dome covers the main prayer hall with a rectangular plan. The feeling of openness inside the mosque is achieved by thinner columns compared to those of the Üç Şerefeli Mosque.
A long time might have passed since the sailors of the Ottoman Navy performed their last prayers at the Sinan Pasha Mosque (a mosque through which Sinan salutes an old master), yet still, in Beşiktaş, at the heart of Istanbul, people get together under its shade, every single day, proving that all architecture is about the space the building leaves out, as well as the space it covers.