Mimar Sinan (1488/90 – 1588) and the Suleymaniye Mosque


Mimar Sinan was a prolific architect who worked under the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire. These are his blueprints for the Suleymaniye Mosque, which was started in 1550 and completed in 1558. The Mosque has one of the largest masonry built domes in the Islamic world.

Mimar Sinan’s political enemies, envious of the architect’s prominent commission, relayed exaggerated information regarding construction problems to Sultan Suleiman I. They accused Sinan of incompetence, pointing toward the architect’s obsession, and possible confusion, with the central dome’s structure. In response, the Sultan angrily departed to the building site, demanding a hastened completion. Sinan feared enduring the same tragic fate as his predecessor—an architect also named Sinan who, in 1471, was executed for disappointing Suleiman’s grandfather, Mehmed II.

A startling promise from the architect followed: “God willing, through the good fortune of my felicitous Padishah, it will be completed in two months.“ Such an outstanding promise reignited Sinan’s political opponents, who claimed the architect’s mental composure was deteriorating from overexertion. Sinan, however, finished his project to the standards of the Sultan, with the architect’s long lifespan as proof of his success.

  1. Faroqhi, Suraiya. Subjects of the Sultan: Culture and Daily life in the Ottoman Empire. New York, Ny: I.B. Taurus & Co Ltd, 2011.
  2. Crane, Howard, ed., Sinan’s Autobiographies: Five Sixteenth-Century Texts. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2006.


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