The Selimiye Mosque, which is known as the ‘crown of the city’, has earned its name by being one of the most splendid examples of Ottoman architecture. The Mosque’s unique, refined and masterful structure, occupies a vast area, and the huge number of its windows, left the reputation of Hagia Sophia in the shade. These windows allow, the mosque to be flooded with great, enchanting light. In the same way, as Rembrandt used his skill with light in his paintings, so the architect Sinan achieved a similar effect in the mosque. This architecture is seen as a projection of the magnificence and political strength of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century and is known as the “last sultan’s building”. The construction of the Selimiye Mosque was begun in 1568 by the architect Sinan at the request of the Ottoman Sultan Selim II. It took seven years to complete the construction and Sinan referred to this building as his “masterpiece”. The beauty of the mosque undoubtedly has an influence on those who witness it. In the year 2000 it was listed by UNESCO on its “Provisional World Heritage List” and in 2011 it was taken on to the “World Heritage List”.
The Selimiye Mosque is in the centre of Edirne’s newly developed neighbourhood and now belongs to the Sultan Selim Foundation.
Those who come to see the Selimiye Mosque frequently say that the Architect Sinan, who understood how to dominate the urban landscape, chose the best and most beautiful position for the mosque. In the building of the mosque is displayed a superior intelligence combined with creative design and technique. The mosque has 384 windows and is built on a vast area of some 2,475 metres square, creating a huge area of light. In the interior of the mosque can be found many Islamic religious symbols. For example on nine doors, which are located in the mosque, reference is made to some verses in the Quran. The structure of the dome is entirely different from those in other mosques, and for this reason, its architecture is always compared with Hagia Sophia by tourists. The Selimiye Mosque is covered with a single dome resting on eight pillars, of a style known as ‘elephants’ feet’. With a diameter of 31.28 metres and a height of 15.86 metres, this dome appears very spacious and serene.
The Selimiye Mosque is dazzling, with the combination of its impressive external architecture and its decorative artwork. It is a work of art, which is worth visiting, with its exceptionally detailed marble craftsmanship, decorative tiles and stone and wood detail. As you head directly towards the mosque, its four magnificent minarets greet you. There is also a library in the Selimiye Mosque, which is home to 2800 pieces of hand-written and 57 printed works.
One of the most fascinating and mysterious details of the mosque is the “reverse tulip” motif, which is used in one section of the building and is still not completely understood by historians. Concerning the motif, it is generally believed that to build the mosque, the owner of a tulip garden which was situated on the current site of the mosque, was forced to sell his garden. It is said that the tulip pattern could be a symbol to show sympathy with the unfortunate owner, which is why it has been made in reverse.
Keen photographers who wish to add a unique photo to their collection should take a picture of the imposing silhouette of the Selimiye Mosque at sunset. Since the mosque is located in the centre of Edirne, it is very easy to access, and in fact, we would recommend that those visiting Istanbul should also stop in Edirne and visit the Selimiye Mosque. While you are there, don’t forget to try Edirne’s fried liver, ‘ladies’ thighs’ meatballs, ‘mutancana’ (an Ottoman lamb dish cooked with dried fruits) ‘mamzana’ (a salad made with aubergine, tomato and pepper), Greek moussaka and many other delicious regional dishes.