The Ottoman architect Sinan Agha.. converted to Islam during the reign of Sultan Selim I and built my masterpieces, Selimiye and Sulaymaniyah | Encyclopedia

Architect Sinan Agha, a genius Ottoman engineer who is considered an innovator of Ottoman architecture. He converted to Islam during the reign of Sultan Selim I and shared his conquests. He assumed the position of chief architect during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Restored Hagia Sophia and built the Sulaymaniyah and Sulaymaniyah Mosques and other prominent landmarks of the Ottoman Empire.

Birth and education

Yusuf Abd al-Manan, known as the architect Sinan or “Koja Mimar Sinan”, i.e. the great architect Sinan, was born in May 1490, in the village of Agirnas, in the state of Kayseri in Turkey, to an Armenian Orthodox family, and Agirnas was later called “Sinan Koy”, meaning the village of Sinan.

His father was a construction and carpenter, so Sinan worked in his father’s trade until he was recruited into the army of Sultan Selim I in 1512, after his family moved to Istanbul.

Sinan’s move to Istanbul was through the “Devshirma” system, a system approved by the Ottoman Empire to recruit the sons of Christian families to surrender and be warriors in an upper class loyal to the Sultan only without the Ottoman nobility.

At the age of 23, he converted to Islam and changed his name from Yusuf to Sinan, joined the service in the Ottoman royal palace and, under the leadership of Sultan Selim I, participated in the battles of Al-Raydaniyah and Marj Dabiq.

He then joined the Janissary army during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, and took part with him in the conquest of Belgrade in 1521. After rigorous training, he became a construction officer in the Janissary army, then was he was promoted to the position of artillery commander.

Beginning of engineering skill

In the 1630s, Suleiman the Magnificent led a campaign against the Safavid state, in which Sinan participated and received the rank of royal honor after building galleys (ships with oars) to cross Lake “Van” by order of the Ottoman Minister Lutfi Pasha, and supplied the galleys with weapons and cannons to go out on a reconnaissance mission for the Safavid army.

In the Balkan conquests, the officers could not build a bridge to cross the Prut River, which connects present-day Romania and Moldavia, so Lutfi Pasha also ordered that Sinan should be assigned that task, so that he would build a solid bridge in approx. completed two weeks. , which enabled the army to cross the river.

At the time, the Sultan was greatly impressed by Sinan’s engineering prowess, so at the age of 49 he appointed him to the position of chief architect and separated from the army to devote his life to architecture.

Sinan began working as an official engineer for the Ottoman Empire at the height of its political and military power and its cultural brilliance.

Among his urban tasks was building mosques and converting churches into mosques, in addition to building granaries, fountains, water channels, schools, hospitals, public baths and shrines.

Sinan’s first masterpiece

The first task assigned to the royal architect Sinan after leaving the army was to build the “Shahzadeh” Mosque, which means “Prince” in Persian. The mosque was commissioned by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent after the death of his eldest son, Prince. Mohammed, in 1543.

The Shahzadeh Mosque is built on a square base with a large dome in its center surrounded by half domes and other sub-domes. The mosque is surrounded by a courtyard with porticoes with columns, and it has 5 rooms with domes on all the facades of the square, and it has marble arches in white and pink colors.

In the middle of the square there is also an ablution, which was given to him by Sultan Murad IV, shortly after its construction was completed in 1548. The mosque has two minarets carved in a very fine engineering manner, each 57 meters long. tall.

The tomb of Prince Mohammed was built in the burial garden on the south side of the mosque, and it is the largest of the five tombs in the garden. Sinan described this masterpiece as “the creativity of the apprentice worker.”

Shahzadeh Mosque is the first symmetrical biaxial building in the shape of a large hemisphere.

Restoration of Hagia Sophia

After the conquest of Istanbul, the largest Christian church at the time was converted into a mosque. The Hagia Sophia, built by the Roman emperor, was a marvel of Byzantine architecture.

However, Hagia Sophia needed the intervention of the architect Sinan Agha to stay standing, so Sinan was assigned to repair its walls, so he built large pillars and stone pillars around it to relieve the pressure of the dome on it.

Turkish art historian Khairy Yilmaz said: “Sinan introduced some European construction techniques in the eastern wing of the Hagia Sophia, by building flying buttresses, which shows his efforts to preserve the stability of the building and its complementing buildings.”

The Sulaymaniyah Mosque is one of the most important and prominent works of architect Sinan, which includes several facilities other than the mosque (Anatolia).

Sinan’s best work

Sinan was very impressed with the masterpiece of Byzantine architecture, Hagia Sophia, so that masterpiece was his inspiration in building the Sulaymaniyah Mosque, which was commissioned by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1550 and took 7 years to complete. to build.

The Sulaymaniyah Mosque was built according to Sinan’s engineering principles of “strength, utilitarianism and beauty.” After completing its construction, he said that it was one of his most prominent works that he was proud of.

and for fear of his masterpiece that earthquakes would do to it what it did to Hagia Sophia; Sinan laid the foundations of Sulaymaniyah, then left them for a year to test their strength and hardness, and when he was sure of their durability, he assembled the columns of his building, each column from a country.

A special place has been chosen for the Suleymaniye Mosque, which is one of the largest mosques in the Ottoman Empire. It is built on the third hill of the seven hills of Istanbul, on a prominent hill in Istanbul and overlooks the Golden Bay. and the Bosphorus.

The mosque is characterized by a large central dome that reaches a height of 50 meters and rests on 4 columns that resemble the feet of an elephant.

In the interior design of the domes, Sinan used 275 cube-shaped stones to distribute the images evenly throughout the mosque. The mosque has two front minarets with a length of 76 meters. The four minarets of the mosque that surround the dome are the tallest in Istanbul.

Unlike the Hagia Sophia, the Sulaymaniyah Mosque had several ebony doors and was decorated, and it was lit by 4,000 lamps. Ventilation holes were opened under the dome so that the smoke from the oil lamps could escape.

It is characteristic in the construction of the Sulaymaniyah masterpiece that Sinan Agha did not use water to mix his tiles, but instead used egg whites, which makes the floor more resistant to rain and snow, and large quantities of eggs were brought from Anatolia .

The Sulaymaniyah masterpiece was not just a mosque, but rather a complex consisting of various facilities. The mosque in the center and the tomb of Sultan Suleiman the Male and his wife, 4 schools, a house for teaching hadith and another for teaching the Koran, a hospital, baths, a khan and shops , and it also contains the tomb of Mimar Sinan.

And the grandeur of this building, whose dome imitates the dome of Sinan’s muse, Hagia Sophia; He was not completely satisfied, so he built a masterpiece that surpasses Hagia Sophia, which is Selimiye in the state of Edirne, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, whose dome exceeds the dome of Hagia Sophia and its minarets the sky embrace.

Sinan says: “In Sulaymaniyah, I showed the creativity of the assistant. As for Sulaymaniyah, my last work is the stage of the professional’s creativity.”

Masterpiece of the Sultana’s love

The architect of the royal court, Sinan, loved the daughter of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, Mihrimah, and Mihrimah means the Sultanate of the Sun and the Moon. He negotiated with Ahmed Pasha, the ruler of Diyarbakir, for the love of the Sultana competition. Ahmed married her, but she asked Sinan to build her a mosque, so he built two.

Sinan called the two mosques “Mihramah”, and he built one of them in the European part of Istanbul in the Edirne Kapi area, and the other in the Asian part in the Escudar region, and it was said that the engineering secret on March 21 of each year; Sultana’s birthday.

The Mihrimah Mosque, built by Mimar Sinan at the request of his beloved Sultana Mihrimah in Uskudar (Getty Images)

On that day, the sun sets over the minaret of the European Mosque, and the full moon rises over the minaret of the Asian Mosque, which is also called the “Marfa Mosque”.

extensive urban culture

During his journey with the army of the conquerors, Mimar Sinan acquired a great urban culture, including the Seljuk and Byzantine monuments, and saw the landmarks of Tabriz in Iran and the architectural styles in Aleppo and Cairo.

His works were not limited to mosques, although those he built included various facilities such as caravanserais, reception halls and public baths, but he also built various structures for the Ottoman Empire’s infrastructure, notably the water canal in Maglova.

Architect Sinan raised the boundaries of traditional Ottoman architecture and enriched the features of the empire with his great works, estimated at 365 masterpieces, including bridges, palaces, caravanserai, mosques, schools, shops and shrines.


Architect Sinan drew up his last design in 1610, and it was a design for the Queen Safiyya Mosque in Cairo.

Sinan died on the ninth of April 1588 at the age of 98, after spending almost 50 years in architectural work, and was buried in his mausoleum, which he designed himself in Sulaymaniyah College, one of his masterpieces.

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