Selimiye Mosque

sights / Religious

Selimiye Mosque information

Edirne , Turkey
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Of all the achievements of Ottoman architect Mimar Koca Sinan (1497–1588), whose best-known buildings adorn İstanbul's skyline and include the magnificent Süleymaniye Mosque, this exquisite mosque is believed by many to be the greatest. Built between 1569 and 1575 by order of Sultan Selim II at Edirne's highest point, the mosque features four striking 71m-high minarets and was positioned in the centre of an extensive külliye (mosque complex), which included a medrese (Islamic school of higher studies), darül Hadis (Hadith school) and arasta (arcade of shops).

The main entrance is through the western courtyard, home to a lovely marble şadırvan (ablution fountain). Inside, the broad, lofty dome – at 31.3m, marginally wider than that of İstanbul's Aya Sofya – is supported by eight unobtrusive pillars, arches and external buttresses, creating a surprisingly spacious interior. As they only bear a portion of the dome's weight, the walls are sound enough to hold dozens of windows, the light from which brings out the interior's colourful calligraphic decorations.

Unesco added the mosque and its külliye to its World Heritage list in 2011.