Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Edirne is saturated with Ottoman history and is rightfully famed for its many mosques.

Considering its population size of approximately 130,000, Edirne seems to have a beautiful cami (mosque) every couple of blocks. Over the weekend, I think we walked by 12 mosques and went inside half of them to take photos. Since the city functioned as the Ottoman Empire’s capital for nearly a century (before Istanbul), many important masterpieces in Ottoman architecture were built here.

The city’s oldest mosque, with construction started in 1403 by Emir Süleyman, is the Eski Camii (Old Mosque). The mosque was completed during the reign of  his brother Çelebi Sultan Mehmet in 1414. What’s interesting is that the mosque is roofed with nine domes after the Ulu Cami (Grand Mosque) style.
A rearview of the Eski Camii and 3 of its 9 domes at dusk in Edirne.
The mosque’s walls also are decorated with huge-scale calligraphy inscriptions of quotes from the Koran and names of the Muslim prophets.
Here you can see some of the calligraphy inscriptions on the walls.
However, the most magnificent mosque that welcomes you into Edirne is the Selimiye Camii, designed by the famed Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan at the age of 80. 
A view of the Selimiye Camii in the distance as we drove out of Edirne on Sunday.
Constructed for Sultan Selim II between 1569 and 1575, the mosque is smaller but more elegant than Sinan’s Süleymaniye Camii (1557) (the second largest mosque in İstanbul), and it's said that Sinan himself considered this his finest work. The mosque complex was built in Kavak Square, the highest place in the city, covering an area of 22,000 square meters.
What’s impressive is the enormous, lofty dome of the Selimiye Camii measuring 31.28 meters in diameter and reaching 43.28 meters above the floor. (The dome is comparable to the dimensions of the Hagia Sophia’s dome in Istanbul.) The dome is built on arches instead of supporting semi-domes - each spanning six meters.

Here you can see some of the intricate details found in the Selimiye Camii.
Located nearby is the Üç Şerefeli Camii, which means “three balconies” in Turkish. This mosque was built in1438-1447 by order of Sultan Murat II and combines early and classical Ottoman styles. 

The painted dome inside the Üç Şerefeli Camii. 
What makes this mosque unique is that one of the four minarets was built higher than the others measuring 67.62 meters.
One of the uniquely patterned minarets.
If you walk east from the city’s square, following Talat Paşa Caddesi, you will pass several more mosques. One of these is the Defterdar Mustafa Paşa Camii, also designed by Sinan circa 1569-1576. In 1752, an earthquake caused the dome to collapse, and the mosque was covered with a wooden roof until after 1953 when repairs finally were made. Outside of this mosque, a Turkish gentleman tried talking to us about the mosque. We understood that Sinan was the architect and he pointed us down the road to see some more mosques on our map.

It’s easy to spend the afternoon or the weekend like we did strolling through Edirne and admiring the city’s rich architecture. I was completely awe-struck knowing these landmarks have survived such a tumultuous history and have been restored/repaired throughout the years.

Edirne is an easy 2.5 hour drive west of Istanbul. I believe there also are tour buses from Istanbul to Edirne. If you have time to get outside of the city, I highly recommend this historic city as a great weekend getaway.

For Edirne city maps and information in English, stop by the Turizm Danışma at the intersection of the main street of Londra Asfaltı and the sidestreet of Maarif Cad.

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Julia said...

Wow, you're professional mosque tourists. We've only passed through Edirne in transit but hope to stay there one day to see Selimiye Camii. Looks like there's lot of other things to see, too. :)

Unknown said...

gosh, Joy, you are really getting around Turkey! I have been to Edirne and really love your photos of all the sights.
BTW the BAN is OFF!!!!

Hope I am not speaking too soon!!!