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A Study on The Ottoman Empire, the Mosque of Hagia Sophia and Sultan Selim II

The Mosque of Hagia Sophia & Selim ll

The Middle East as we know it today emerged from the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman history involves not only the Ottoman dynasty but also, this great empire ruled over Arabs, Serbs, Greeks, Armenians, Jews, Bulgars, Hungarians, Albanians, North Africans and others. At one time in history, the Ottomans were considered a major power in the world. Their civilization had a major impact on many other societies in those days by commerce, culture, and religion. It constitutes the history of the major religious groups among these are Muslims, Christians and Jews.

To begin with, the Ottomans had a very efficient system of administration, which led to their successful era. The Ottoman Empire was ruled by The Sultan, a king like ruler that claimed religious position. For example, the Sultan would claim the position of the Caliph, a supreme temporal leader of Islam. The influence of religion made a significant effect on the supreme power that Sultan claimed. By claiming the title of the Capliph a religious loyalty was created between the Islamic people and the Sultan. Officially, the Sultan was the government. He enjoyed absolute power and, in theory at least, was personally involved in every governmental decision. In the Ottoman experience of government, everything representing the state government issued from the hands of the Sultan himself. The Ottoman Empire lasted for over six centuries because of the success through expansion and the ability to control, the empire proved very successful in nearly all they attempted. The Ottomans were already experienced empire builders and had established a strong, centralized administration. They were a predominantly military power (Armstrong 323).

The Ottoman Empire is famous for its architecture. The Ottoman style is geometric, formalistic and never ornamental: significant rather than beautiful (Goodwin 130).

Sinan, the Great was a famous Ottoman architect, he started with an early career in the army where he traveled all over the Near East and the Balkans. Later on he took on the position of the head of the empires corps of architecture around 1539 at the age of fifty (Kostof 461). He built no less than 355 buildings or complexes. He built 81 mosques, 50 prayer-halls, 62 madrasas, 19 mausolea or turbes, 17 caravanserais, three hospitals and seven aqueducts. Above all, Sinan built the sultanic mosques of Suleyman at Istanbul and of Suleymans successor, Selim ll, at Edrin. The Sulimiye is his masterpiece (Stierlin 116). He was an architect who grew up in one of the most splendid periods of the Ottoman State, and who contributed to this era with his works. The Sehzade Mosque, which is the first major works of Sinan comprises two equal squares as courtyard and prayer hall plus two graceful minarets (Kuran 198). The word Sehzade is derived from the Persian language in which it means crown prince. This first Sultanic mosque was made in the memory of Suleymans son named Prince Mehmet. It measures 90 by 50 m, 185m long and 120 m wide. This mosque comprises of two squares as courtyard and prayer hall with two beautiful minarets adding more attraction to its architecture. There are various smaller domes on each corner of its upper structure, which makes it one of the distinctive features of the mosque. (Stierlin 120).

Another of his magnificent works includes the Mosque of Selim ll 1568-1575. The mosque has a dorm including 4 minarets, which are more than two hundred feet high. The mihrab is seen almost from any spot in the mosque. The basic elements of mosques architecture include the huge dome accompanied by four 200 feet high minarets, and mihrab, which could be seen, from any place in the mosque. This mosque also has a qibla wall, which is a requirement in each mosque for worshippers to pray facing towards the direction of holy kaba, which is in Mecca. The mihrab is a more decorated place, usually semi circular plan and having a semi circular arched top. This is the place in the mosque where the imam leads the prayer. Another prominent feature of the Selim ll are the tower like figures called Minarets, which were used to ensure that the voice of the muezzan making the adhan could be heard at a maximum distance. Also, a very interesting feature of this mosque is the Islamic calligraphy imposed on ceramics, tiles and mosaics. Excerpts from the holy Koran are crafted on the walls, mihrab, and dome of the mosque.

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