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The Suleymaniye is the second largest but by far the finest and most magnificiant of the imperial mosque complexes in the city.It is a fitting monument to its founder, Suleyman the magnificent, and a master work of greatest ofSuleymaniye Mosque Ottoman architects, thi incomparable Sinan.The mosque itself, the largest of Sinan's work, is perhaps inferior in perfection of design to that master's Selimiye at Edirne, but its incotestably the most important Ottoman building in Istanbul.

The construction of Suleymaniye began in 1550 and the mosque itself was completed in 1557, but it was some years later before all the buildings of the complex were finished.Where the lend slopes sharply down toward the Golden Horn, the courtyard is supported by an elaborate vaultedsubstructure; from the terrace here on has a suberb view of the city.Around this courtyard on three sides are arranged the other builings of the complex with as much symmetry as the nature of the site would permit.Nearly all of these pious foundatuons have been well restored and some of them are once again serving the people of Istanbul as they did in the days of Suleyman.

The mosque is preceded by a porticoed courtyard of exceptional grandeour, with columns of the richest porphyry, marble and grenite.The western portal of the court is flanked by a great pyloon containing two stories of chambers; these were the muvakithane, the house and workshop of the mosque astronomer.At the four croners of the courtyard rise the four great minarets.These four minarets are traditionally said to present the fact that Suleyman was the fourth sultan to reign in Istanbul; while the ten serefs or balconies denote that he was the tenth sultan of the Ottoman.

Entering the mosque we find ourselves in a vast, almost square room surmounted by a dome.The interior is approximately58.5 by 57.5 meters, while the diameter of the dome is 27.5 meters and the hight of its crown above the floor is 47 meters.Suleymaniye Mosque (inside)To east and west the dome is supported by semidomes, to north and south by arches with tympana filled with windows.The dome-arches rise from four great irregularly shaped piers.Up to this point the plan follows that of Hagia Sophia, but beyond this all is different.Between the piers to north and south triple arcades on two enormous monalithic columns support the tympana of the arches. There are no galleries here, nor can there properly be said to be aisles, since the great columns are so high and so far apart as not really to form a barrier between the central area and the walls; thus the immense space is not cut up into sections as at Haghia Sophia but is centralized and continuos. The method Sinan used to mask the huge buttresses required to support the four central piers is very ingenious, the device is extremely succesful, and is indeed one of the things which gives the exterior its interesting and beautiful distinction.

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