Selimiye Mosque - The Masterpiece of Edirne, Turkey

Selimiye Mosque – An Ottoman Masterpiece in Edirne, Turkey

Selimiye Mosque is a monumental structure that the architect Sinan made at the age of 80 and called “my magnum opus”. The mosque is one of the main works of the Ottoman-Turkish art and the history of the world architecture. The property rights belong to Sultan Selim Vakfı. The mosque is located in the center of Edirne.

Selimiye, which is considered to be one of the symbols of Edirne and the Ottoman Empire, is in the center of the city, formerly known as Sarıbayır and Kavak Square. It is known that Yıldırım Bayezid had built a palace in the same location before. It was built in 1569-1575 by the order of Sultan Selim II. With the choice of the place where it is built and the interior of the mosque built of cut stone, it is also seen that Mimar Sinan was also a skilled master of urbanism at the same time. The mosque occupies an area of 1.620 m2 and a total area of 2.475 m2. The Selimiye Mosque, which is described as the largest structure established in the history of architecture, has a dome with a height of 43.28 meters. The dome, which is bigger than that of Ayasofya, is 6 meters wide. There are eight large “elephant foot” style main columns connected to each other by wide belts. The central dome is supported by four smaller domes in the corners and a half dome in the place of the “mihrab”.

The rest of the article contains a whole bunch of details about the mosque including some technical details, but before you move on,  you may want to make sure that you read our related articles about the city of Edirne and the oldest mosque in the city, namely Eski Cami (Turkish phrase for The Old Mosque), have a look:

1. Edirne Turkey : A Comprehensive City Guide

2. Eski Cami (The Old Mosque) : A 600 Years Old Grand Mosque in Edirne

3. Edirne Palace: An Ottoman Palace in Edirne

4. The Complex of Sultan Bayezid II Health Museum, Edirne

5. Selimiye Arasta (Covered Bazaar)

The structure is illuminated by 32 small windows just below the dome, and a large number of windows in six rows on top of each other. It is the most successful example of the 8-column plan created by Mimar Sinan.

In front, there are 18 domes and a portico surrounded by 16 columns. In the middle, there is an elegant fountain made of marble. The dome on the marble entrance door is grooved and the others are flat. There are four elegant minarets, each with 3 “şerefe” (doors). There are 3 separate stairways per minaret, each of which lead to a different door of the minaret. Three people using different stairways within the same minaret can reach the doors without seeing each other.

Selimiye Mosque Edirne

The mosque is also extremely important with the inaccessibility of the architectural features as well as the decorative features such as stone, marble, tile, wood pearl. The mihrab and minber is the masterpieces of marble workmanship.

Inside, the muezzin is located in the middle of 12 marble columns. There is a library on the right and a “Hunkar Mahfili” (a special place for the sultan to pray) on the left of the mihrab. The original pen works on the lower part of this part show all the vitality of the period. The original pen works decorating the dome and arches are cleaned and ‘revitalized’ during the renovations of the mosque.

Tile decorations have a distinct place in Ottoman and world art in the 16th century. These china, which are the most beautiful examples of the tile china, were made under the glaze technique in Iznik. Mihrab wall, minbar pavilion wall, Hunkar wall, women’s cupboard, arch corners, window tops in the direction of kibble are all decorated with china. In the large tile panels on the wall of the altar, there are blue flowers and leaf ornaments, on the top of the windows there are black and white cartridges on which Islamic prayers are printed. The tile panel in the Minbar Köşk is decorated with navy blue, red in the middle, leaf, hyacinth and lacquer under the white spring flowering tree.

Hunkar (the sultan) is said to have been attracted by the mosque’s architectural wealth and diversity. In the pointed arched pediment of the marble mihrab, the dark blue lettering of the mullah strikes the throne and the writing of the verse. In this section, red, blue, green peony, spring trees, large blue rosette on the surface and flowering panels around the flower, carnations and spring branches among the baklava-shaped leaves are the best examples of the Chinese tiles. Among the people of Hünkar, there is a distinctive value as an original decoration in the Ottoman chines, which is made by two apple trees, which are thought to have been brought there from the palace.

There are Darül-Süyyan, Darül-Kur’a and Darül-Hadis constructions in the large outer courtyard of the glass surrounded by stone walls. Some of these buildings and the madrasah constitute various parts of the Edirne Museum.

Arasta (bazaar), located under the terrace of the mosque, was built as a foundation to Selimiye in the time of the III.Murat. The architect is of the bazaar is known to be Davut Aga.

The Dome of Selimiye Mosque

Details about Selimiye Mosque

Selimiye Mosque was given a symbolic character by Sinan, also adding strength to Edirne in Turkish History with its presence. Not only researchers of our time, but also old writers agree that Selimiye is a masterpiece.

For this mosque, Ernst Diez says: “Selimiye is the foundation of all the structures in the world in terms of size, height, community and light effect.”

This mosque is the “last sultan’s structure” which also emphasizes the political sovereignty of the 16th century, when the power of the Ottoman Empire still continued in Europe.

Selimiye, in other words, is an ideal expression of the Ottoman Architecture. This “Crown of the City”, used in all hours of the day, fulfills a symbolic purpose in the meaning of the demonstration embodied in the religious structure of political power.

Selimiye Mosque by Night

Building Materials of Selimiye Mosque

Most of the materials for the construction was provided from the Edirne market. In the documents related to construction, it is written that some of the pillars from Enez were made of marble from Marmara Island and Kavala, as well as colored stone products from Fere. Evliya Çelebi speaks of six columns from Athens and a place called Templar for the courtyard made of white marble. Evliya Çelebi also points out that, for the other columns brought from Cyprus and the Hüdavendigar Sanjak from Aydıncık Town, as much money as the entire Egyptian Treasury had to be spent. In some sources, it is said that the construction cost of the Selimiye Mosque was met by the income from the Cyprus conquest.

When and why was Selimiye Mosque built in Edirne?

Sultan Selim II came to Edirne from Istanbul on June 22, 1567 and stayed here until the peace agreement with the Austrians was signed. There are those who say that the decision to build the mosque was given in those days. According to another narrative, Edirne, perceived by the Turks as “The Wall of Islam”, was chosen due to a dream that the sultan had. Accordingly, Hz. Muhammad, in this dream, has pointed to the place of Edirne and the present place.

On the other hand, keeping in mind that Selim II had a special interest for the city from his youth and there are some who claim that the Edirne Preference is affected by this situation.

There are also evaluations explaining the reason for this lack of suitable land in Istanbul at that time.

The construction of Selimiye Mosque was started in 1568, and it was ready for worshipping in 1575.

The Ground of Selimiye Mosque

In the area where Selimiye was built, there was Edirne’s first palace and Baltaci Guards Barracks, which was established by Sultan I Murat’s orders but was developed by Sultan Yıldırım Beyazit as the Old Palace (Saray-i Atik).

Evliya Çelebi points to Kavak Square in this area. The mosque covers a total area of 2475 m² and an interior area of 1475 m². In the selection of the exact spot for the construction of the mosque, Sinan, the Architect does not act arbitraril, but does a conscious calculation, instead. In this selection, Sinan uses his mastery and imagination while considering Selimiye’s central character.

The Courtyard of Selimiye Mosque

The courtyard consists of two rectangular areas. The most spectacular of the doors entering the court opens to the west. When entered through the door, there is a fountain made of white marble. This hexagonal fountain is one of the most beautiful designs of the Classical Ottoman Architecture.

There are 18 domes and 16 columns on the fountain. The courtyard surrounds the mosque from three sides.

Selimiye Mosque is surrounded by stone walls and has a large outside patio with Dar-ul Sübyan, Dar-ül Kur-a and Dar-ul Hadis. The number of garden doors is eight. The mosque itself has four gates with its largest gate in the west.

The Central Dome of Selimiye Mosque

Selimiye’s Dome, being a primary element of the structure, was also designed as the symbol of a mother’s womb, the God, the political power and the city’s physiognoments.

The dome of Selimiye is regarded as a “peak point” in this sense and it conveys the development of single-domed structures to the last point in pre-industrial architecture.

The height of the dome is 43.28 meters with a diameter of 31.22 meters. The weight is on the eight elephant foot columns. The decorations of the dome were restored between 1978 and 1985.

The Dome of Selimiye Mosque

Reverse tulip Motif in Selimiye Mosque

In the northeast direction of Müezzinler Mahfeli; On the marble stand at the corner, there is a small motif. According to the myth, the inverted tulip symbolizes the negative attitude of the owner of the land on which Selimiye Mosque was to be built.

There are other legends related to that tulip, too. For instance, with the same letters in the words of God and tulip in Arabic, this flower has been given a mystical meaning and considered sacred. Also, when the tulip word written in the Old Letters is read, the crescent which is the holy symbol of the Ottomans is read.

Selimiye ‘s reverse motif is one of the most curious mosque items on the planet today, and continues to produce different legends as for why it is there.

It has been determined that 101 different types of tulip motifs were used in different sizes, colors and shapes in the Selimiye Mosque, including the reverse side of the Müezzinler Mahfeli.

Minarets of Selimiye Mosque

The minarets are located on the four corners of the mosque, close to the square and with a rectangular plan. The minarets surround the building and provide a view that embraces the large dome. Thus, while minarets emphasize a central plan, the structure also adds verticality.

Each minaret is about 70.80 meters tall. Including the cones and the top, they reach 85 meters in height. The only minaret higher than those of Selimiye Mosque is Kutb-Minar in Delhi. However, this minaret is very thick compared to Selimiye minarets.

Selimiye Mosque is distinguished from other abridged works by the way of presenting the whole and taking place in the whole without advancing in all directions.

In the Selimiye Mosque, the balanced space stretched from each side to the last borders is in a state of great calm.

Technical Information about Selimiye Mosque

Founder: Sultan Selim II

Architect: Sinan, The Architect

Date of Construction: 1568 – 1574

Area Coverage: 22.202 m² with the complex

Interior of the Mosque: 1620 m²

Diameter of the Dome: 31.30 m.

Height from the floor to the Lock Stone of the Dome: 43.28 m.

Height of minarets: 70.89 m. Or 72.50 m.

References / Translated from




Selimiye Mosque - An Ottoman Masterpiece in Edirne, Turkey
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Selimiye Mosque - An Ottoman Masterpiece in Edirne, Turkey
Selimiye Mosque - An Ottoman Masterpiece in Edirne, Turkey
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