SINAN'S ISTANBUL: SÜLEYMANİYE MOSQUE"Either the inside or the outside of a creature or a building can be beautiful, two beauties do not exist at the same time. However, both the interior and the exterior of this mosque were built beautifully. In all Europe, we have not seen such a perfect and exemplary building in terms of science of geometry."
As told by the great Ottoman traveler Evliya Çelebi (1611-1682), a group of European architects and scholars who visited the Süleymaniye Mosque gave the above response when asked about their opinions upon seeing the mosque and the complex.
The Süleymaniye Mosque, whose construction began in 1550, is one of the most magnificent buildings of not only the Ottoman Empire but the world history as well. Four elephant leg columns of red granite carry the main dome (with 26,2 m diameter and 49,5 m height) of the mosque that rises on a commanding hill overlooking the Golden Horn. Within the tradition of the Mediterranean architecture, it was a common practice in the construction of imperial structures to use parts brought from other important buildings. As some other parts of the Süleymaniye Mosque, the four main columns were also brought from various ancient ruins or old buildings within the empire.
The four-thousand-square-meter Süleymaniye Mosque is located in the vast Süleymaniye Complex with an area of 700.000 m2. The tombs of Sultan Suleiman, his wife Hurrem Sultan, and the architect of this immortal structure, Koca Mimar (Grand Architect) Sinan Aga are located in the complex, which also hosts buildings of hammam, hospital, public kitchen, caravanserai and schools of different degrees.
Constructed by roughly 3500 people, among whom were the most talented stonemasons, blacksmiths, painters, calligraphers and various other craftsmen from all over the empire, by bringing Sinan’s genius into being, the Süleymaniye Mosque was opened on Friday, October 15, 1557 by the person who deserved the honor most. In his autobiography Sinan depicts the opening as follows: "I gave the key of the mosque to the gracious hands of the sultan and I prayed with my hands clasped. The sultan, upon turning to the chief of ceremony, asked ‘Who deserves to open the mosque?’ and got the response ‘My sultan, Sinan Aga is an extraordinary master, and this senior subject of yours is the one who deserves it’, after which the sultan readily handed me over the keys, and I, by saying ‘Ya Fettah’, opened the mosque".