The Süleymaniye Mosque is an Ottoman imperial mosque located on the Third Hill of Istanbul, Turkey. It is the largest mosque in the city, and one of the best-known sights of Istanbul.
The Süleymaniye Mosque, built on the order of Sultan Süleyman (Süleyman the Magnificent), "was fortunate to be able to draw on the talents of the architectural genius of Mimar Sinan" (481 Traditions and Encounters: Brief Global History). The construction work began in 1550 and the mosque was finished in 1558.
This "vast religious complex called the Süleymaniye...blended Islamic and Byzantine architectural elements. It combines tall, slender minarets with large domed buildings supported by half domes in the style of the Byzantine church Aya Sophia (which the Ottomans converted into the mosque of Aya Sofya)".
The design of the Süleymaniye also plays on Suleyman's self-conscious representation of himself as a 'second Solomon.' It references the Dome of the Rock, which was built on the site of theTemple of Solomon, as well as Justinian's boast upon the completion of the Aya Sophia: "Solomon, I have surpassed thee!" The Süleymaniye, similar in magnificence to the preceding structures, asserts Suleyman's historical importance. The structure is nevertheless smaller in size than its older archetype, the Aya Sophia.
The Süleymaniye was ravaged by a fire in 1660 and was restored by Sultan Mehmed IV. Part of the dome collapsed again during the earthquake of 1766. Subsequent repairs damaged what was left of the original decoration of Sinan (recent cleaning has shown that Sinan experimented first with blue, before turning red the dominant color of the dome).
During World War I the courtyard was used as a weapons depot, and when some of the ammunition ignited, the mosque suffered another fire. Not until 1956 was it fully restored again.
Construction of the Süleymaniye Mosque
As to the legend, Suleyman the Magnificent had a dream of the prophet Mohammed after he had decided to have the Suleymaniye Mosque constructed. In his dream, Mohammed the prophet shows the location in where the mosque would be built.The emperor awakening from such beautiful dream with great excitement and joy, had praised the god with tears.
The next day, he had first gone to the place signed by Mohammed the prophet and called for the architect, Sinan the Great. He had told the architect that the mosque would be constructed there. And as if waiting for the emperor’s order, the architect Sinan had excitedly repeated the prophet’s same sentence as in the emperor’s dream. The emperor then had told the architect Sinan “You seem to know my dream”. The architect had said “Your Excellency, I also was there in your blessed dream. I was just two steps behind, following you.” The Emperor full with more joy and excitement had ordered to start the mosque’s construction immediately.