Dominating the skyline of Edirne, former capital of the Ottoman Empire, the Selimiye Mosque Complex commissioned by Selim II is the ultimate architectural expression by the architect Sinan of the Ottoman külliye. The imposing mosque stepping up to its single great dome with four soaring slender minarets, spectacular decorated interior space, manuscript library, meticulous craftsmanship, brilliant Iznik tiles and marble courtyard together with its associated educational institutions, outer courtyard and covered bazaar, represent the apogee of an art form and the pious benefaction of 16th century imperial Islam. The architectural composition of the Selimiye Mosque Complex in its dominant location represents the culmination of the great body of work by Sinan, the most outstanding architect of the Ottoman Empire.

The Selimiye Mosque Complex at Edirne is a masterpiece of the human creative genius of the architect Sinan, the most famous of all Ottoman architects in the 16th century. The single great dome supported by eight pillars has a diameter of 31.5 over a prayer space of 45mx36m, and with its four soaring minarets it dominates the city skyline. The innovative structural design allowed numerous windows creating an extraordinary illuminated interior. The mosque complex was recognised by Sinan himself as his most important architectural work.

The Selimiye Mosque with its cupola, spatial concept, architectural and technological ensemble and location crowning the cityscape illustrates a significant stage in human history, the apogee of the Ottoman Empire. The interior decoration using Iznik tiles from the peak period of their production testifies to a great art form never to be excelled in this material. The mosque with its charitable dependencies represents the most harmonious expression ever achieved of the külliye, this most peculiarl Ottoman type of complex.

The Selimiye Mosque Complex includes all the attributes of its Outstanding Universal Value within the property boundary, is well-maintained and does not suffer from adverse effects of development. In view of the importance of the dominant setting of the property and its landmark status, it is extremely important that all view corridors continue to be protected.

The Mosque Complex retains its authenticity in terms of form and design, materials and substance. The Mosque and Arasta retain their authenticity in terms of use and function, spirit and feeling. The madrasas have been slightly modified to serve appropriate new uses as museums.

The property is protected under the National Act on the Preservation of Cultural and Natural Heritage no. 2863 and the Act on Pious Foundations no. 5737, and all works require the approval of the Regional Conservation Council. A Coordination and Supervision Council, constituted by representatives of local and central institutions is being established by the Edirne Municipality to oversee development of the Management Plan for the Selimiye Mosque Complex. In addition there will be an Advisory Body made up of academics, representatives of NGOs, Chamber of Architects, local and central government and local citizens, which will evaluate the Management Plan and provide suggestions. The objectives of the Management Plan are directed at ensuring the preservation of the Selimiye Mosque and transfer of its cultural and functional values as a whole to future generations. They cover structural preservation, management of development pressures including urban development within the buffer zone, management of visitors, visitor services, research and training, data management and administration. An Action Plan is included with short term (1-3 years) and long term (over 5 years) items. Good co-ordination between the various bodies holding responsibility for the Urban Conservation Plan (master plan) for the historical core of Edirne city and the Management Plan for the property, including its conservation, maintenance and visitor management is required to ensure effective management of the property. Documentation of the traditional systems of conservation and management of the property should be part of this.

The legend of the Selimiye Mosque

The location of the Mosque
The sultan Selim II after having a dream of the prophet, Mohammed, had decided to follow his order and to establish a mosque at the location which was marked by the Prophet.

The base stones of the Selimiye Mosque
Sinan the Great, describing the Mosque as “the output of his mastery”, had replaced all stone materials on the field before he started the construction. For 2 years, tones of stones kept on the field. There is a technical term as “settling the basis” used by the constructors. There, Sinan had compressed the basis of the Selimiye before so that it settled. As a result, any later cracks and sliding possibly to occur after the construction were prevented.

Founding took a long time
While the construction had been going fast, one day Sinan the Great had disappeared. People had looked everywhere but could not find him. The architect Sinan came back exactly 8 years later and ordered to resume the construction of the mosque. The sultan Selim had been very angry for waiting 8 years. And he ordered his men “Bring Sinan immediately!”

All members of the palace were shaking with the fear of Sultan Selim. They were afraid of his rage. Sinan the Great appeared before the sultan calmly. Selim just said “Tell” but his eyes were sparkling with rage. The executer near him put his hand on his sword’s handle. Sinan sure of himself said that it took time to make the base strong and he added “8 years needed as to my calculations”. Sultan Selim then gave the executor the sign to stop and could not say anything against the genius of Sinan the Great.