Photographer's Note

Let us remember some important aspects about the Blue Mosque: the biggest complex of Istanbul was about to be built at the heart of Ottoman Istanbul which was standing as the capital of Mediterranean World, at the south of Hippodrome, on the area of five vizier palaces as Evliya Celebi stated, on com mand of the 14th Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I who ascended throne at the age of 14. The area of the Blue Mosque corresponded to the area where the Big Palace was built in Byzantine Period. It was important for religious people to leave a work behind for benevolence after their death. This was valid for sultans as well as common people. Blue Mosque is one the examples of such works.

Nearly all the an cestors of Sultan Ahmed I going back until Osman Gazi have built charity works and hoped to gain benevolence of believers after their death. Some of these dedicated big social complexes to Bursa which was the first important center of Ottoman Em pire, and then they turned their generosity to Istanbul after the conquest and built complexes like Fatih, Bayezid, Yavuz Selim, Süleymaniye. Mehmed III the fa ther and Murad III the grandfather of the young sultan couldn't build structures which will both make their names live lor-ever and gain good deeds for them. How ever, the Young Sultan didn't want to be late in this matter. In order to make the wish of the sultan come true, first thing to be done was location scouting.

After dis cussing various different areas, emphasis was put lastly on the place of Rüstem Pasha Palace in Cagaloglu, yet this option was also canceled due to the need of de molishing some religious and civil buildings. Thereupon, the area at the south of the Hippodrome, over the southern slopes looking at the Marmara shores of Istanbul, facing the me most monumental structure of the city Hagia Sophia, was chosen. The foundation digging process has started after Sedefkar Mehmed Aga presented the painting of the building he will build and obtained approval.

High ranked statesmen leading the Grand Vizier Murad Pasha, Shaykh al islam Mehmed Efendi and Aziz Mahmud Hudai and lead scientists attended the cer emony of foundation digging.In fact, the Young Sultan came to the ceremony from his mansion and worked with a velvet handled digger until he got tired. (This digger is guarded in Topkapi Palace.) This activity started on November 9th 1609 and carried out for 3 months; timber stakes were grounded in the foundation halls and strengthened the foundation. Then an aus-picial date was chosen and a ceremony was held on January 4th 1610. Nobles put stone blocks prepared for them down the foundation at the direction of the kiblah (the direction of Mecca) wall. The activity carried on for 7 seven years without any interruption, until June 9th 1617, when key Stone of the dome of the mosque was put into its place with a ceremony. After a while from the ceremony, before the com plex was fully finished Sultan AhmedI died at the age of 27.

The Young Sultan known by his religiousness and benevo lence yet considered to have died after see ing his biggest wish come true. Sultan Ahmed I prepared his foundation certifi cate-charter with a literary style in 1613 (Hijri 1022) when the construction of the complex was halfway through. He de scribed the function and operation of each building and donated rich incomes to these places. However, even if the bazaar and outer atrium walls were completed with the mosque, completion ofother parts like hospital, madrasah, public kitchen and whole complex took some more time. To tally it took 10 years for the whole process. Sultan Mustafa I approved the construc tion book of te complex.

Thus, the construction process of the magnificent mosque dubbed as Blue Mosque by the westerners, Sultanahmed Mosque by Turks which is the most well-known building of the area known as Hippo­drome in Byzantine period, Horse Square in Ottoman period and called Sul tanahmed Square nowadays was com pleted.

10 years is definitely a short period for a complex of this size andyet the construc tion activity come across a period when there were riots in Anatolia and wars were being carried on at east. This activity at tracts the attention by being animpressive activity that showed the continuity ol fi nancial and organizational power.

Buildings of this structure group form ing the biggest complex of Istanbul like the public-kitchen and hospital at the west of the Hippodrome were demolished in the year 1870. The complex is mostly per ceived by the mosque which is the main building. Ottoman Architecture has been distinctive from the whole Is lamic Architecture with its in-terpretation of mosque spaces. Turks carried on with the plan of building mosques with many domes and supports like in Arabian and Iranian mosques for the first few centuries, but then their inten tions transformed into building mosques with a single large dome, having a non-fragmented space perception as possible and gather most amount o believers at the same time and make them pray. Admittedly, this was a difficult ideal at times when iron and steel wasn't combined with concrete in buildings and ferroconcrete technology wasn't yet discovered. This new interpretation of mosque domes is the feature that made Ottoman Mosque Archi tecture special.
At those times, rules of physics and geometry pointed out building domes for covering large ceilings. How this cover would be carried and how the horizontal weight would be carried by the vertical el ements and transferred to the ground was an impor tant subject. The carrier char acteristics of arcs, columns and walls were needed. Ar chitecturalelements like quarter dome, Turkish trian gle and pendant would be preferred for corner places and joints on the cover of the square or square like rectan gular closed area. Squinches with different designs would be used for small areas and joints; hall dome would enable the exten-sionof the dome at lour directions. Within this architectural set-up for building a non-fragmented large area under a single big dome, the questions of which elements would the architects use, at which propor tions, with which plan andwhich facade characteristics were related with their artis tic point of views andmathematical knowledge.Architect Koca Sinan is the sage of this area withoul any question and his solu tions for the mosque architecture have been inspirational tor following architects. Istanbul Şehzade Mosque which was built by Sinan on behall ol Suleyman the Mag-nificient in memory of his son Sehzade Mehmed who died at a tender age is ac cepted to be the processor of Sultanahmed Mosque with its plan formation. The plan formation of this mosque which Sinan de scribed as "my apprenticeship work" is formed by four half-domes connected to the center dome al four directions andfour strong columns which carries them with arcs. However, Sinan's mosque only affects the plan formation, facade design charac teristics, inner space construction and adornment program ol the mosque is fully authentic. For example, different structures like mosque formation with six minarets and stoa system placed al two sides of the inner atrium that we come across in Sul tanahmed Mosque are executions without a past and a future in Ot toman Architecture.

There is a plan forma tion like this in Valide Mosque (Yeni Mosque). Safiye Sultan, the mother of Mehmed III started its construction in Eminonü, Istanbul in 1597, but the construction stopped when she was sent to the old palace after his son's death. This mosque which was completed in l663 after staying under construction for many years wasn't accepted as the former of Sultan-ahmed Mosque.
Regarding the subject whether the com parison of the two monumental buildings of Istanbul, Hagia Sophia and Sul-tanahmed Mosque is necessary or not: there are some characteristics that are sim ilar in these two building and many that are different. Even though the "classical mosque" outlook of Hagia Sophia due to being used as a mosque for centuries and the minarets added after the conquest of Is tanbul brings to mind a provocative com-parison, one of them is actually a basilica with a dome built in 6th century which has structural problems (the walls at east and west sides expands outside from the dome rim) and it has a dark and gloomy atmos phere as a characteristic of Byzantine Reli gious Architecture; the other is constructed according to a plan and ordered from the beginning, it is well light and adorned be cause its architect has master other fine arts. Joy and comfort took the place of the darkness of Byzantine temple. However, it is better to evaluate facts in their period and conditions, thus it would be useful to be contented with "detection".
Monumental outlook precedes adorn ment in Süleymaniye Mosque which is an other Ottoman building in Istanbul and a work of Sinan. In Edirne Selimiye Mosque which is an "expertise work" of Sinan, monumental outlook and adornment are at par and it is the most mature example of covering the largest possible volume with a dome in a non-fragmented space percep tion. On the other hand Sultanahmed Mosque also has a strong monumental outlook with the size of the architectural elements and their ratios within them selves, but it pushes the edge of the Ot toman Classicism by the enthusiasm and comfort in its adornment program; it is rendered as the mannerism of Ottoman Ar chitecture together with Istanbul New Mosque bv some writers.

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