Sinan: A Great Ottoman Architect


Mimar Sinan, or Sinan the Architect, who marked the history of world architecture with his unique works during his half-century architectural adventure, is commemorated on the 434th anniversary of his death.

According to information compiled by Anadolu Agency, Sinan was born in 1490 in Agirnas village of Kayseri province in Türkiye, and brought to Istanbul as a devshirme during the time of Yavuz Sultan Selim.

Sinan, who had the opportunity to learn about the architectural monuments of the region while participating in the Egyptian Yavuz Expedition, gained experience of architectural and urban relations by studying ancient structures as well as buildings from the Seljuk and Safavid periods. .

During the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, Sinan, who was a Janissary, rose quickly with his successes after participating in the expeditions of Kanuni in 1521 in Belgrade and in 1522 in Rhodes.

Sinan, who built three galleys in Tatvan on the orders of Lutfi Pasha in 1534 during his expedition to Iraq, equipped these ships with weapons such as cannons and guns, and collected information on the state of the troops safavids.

The main goal of Sinan, who was close to Kanuni many times and served in various ranks, was to work as an architect.

With the mission of Lutfi Pasha, he won the appreciation of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent with the bridge he built over the Prut River in 13 days during the Karabakh (Moldova) expedition in 1538 and was promoted to position of chief architect.

After that, Sinan left military service and devoted himself to architecture, where he produced great works.

He was the chief architect for 49 years during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, Selim II and Murat III.


Sinan, who continued to be productive until the last period of his life, died in Istanbul in 1588.

His mausoleum, which looks like a compass from above, is located on the edge of the Suleymaniye complex, which is described as a “masterpiece”.

According to the foundation created in his name, Sinan, whose wife is Mihri Hatun, had three children. One of them was his son Mehmed who was killed while the others were his daughters, Neslihan and Ummuhan.

The great architect designed, built and repaired hundreds of buildings, large and small, during his nearly 50-year architectural adventure.

Sinan designed over 350 buildings, including 82 large mosques and 52 small mosques, 55 madrasas, seven darul-kurras, 20 shrines, 17 imarets, three darus-shifas, 6 waterways, 10 bridges, 20 caravanserais, 36 palaces, 8 cellars, and 48 public baths during his lifetime.

Although mosques and social complexes are the most notable of his works, Sinan also produced important works in different fields such as bridges and aqueducts.

The works of Sinan, who had a close interest in many artistic branches of his day, also include the Ottoman arts of 16th century tiling, calligraphy, sculpture and ornament.

As the chief architect, Sinan not only built mosques, complexes or bridges, he also worked in different fields and restored some old buildings. Sinan, who did extensive work to keep the Hagia Sophia-i Kebir-i Sharif Mosque intact, repaired its dome in 1573 and reinforced the walls around it.

The demolition of structures built near ancient monuments, which distorted their appearance, was also part of his works.

For these reasons, Sinan ensured the demolition of some houses and shops built near the Zeyrek Mosque and the Rumeli Fortress.

He was also engaged in the construction of waterways, the width of streets in Istanbul, the construction of houses and the connection of sewers.

He called attention to the danger of fire caused by the narrowness of the streets and issued an edict about it.

Important works

Sinan defined the stages he went through in his profession with his three great works.

He described the Sehzade Mosque, which he completed in 1548, as a “work of learning”, the Suleymaniye Mosque, which he completed in 1557, as a “work of companionship”, and the Selimiye Mosque, which was opened for worship in 1575. , as a “work of mastery”.

The Sehzade Mosque was commissioned by Suleiman the Magnificent in memory of his son Sehzade Mehmed who died at the age of 22.

The Suleymaniye Mosque was also built by the great architect on the instructions of Suleiman the Magnificent in 1551-1557.

One of the most valuable works of Ottoman architecture, the Suleymaniye Complex, an important building in Istanbul’s skyline, has managed to survive without significant damage despite numerous earthquakes.

The Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, Sinan’s “masterpiece”, is considered one of the main monuments not only of Turkish-Ottoman art, but also of world architectural history.

The work with four minarets, built by Sultan Selim II, also shows that Sinan was an expert master in urban planning, with the choice of the place where he was founded.

*Written by Merve Berker

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