Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Mosque

Front of the Sokollu Mehmet Pasa mosque

Front of the Sokollu Mehmet Pasa mosque

The Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Mosque is located in the Fatih district of Istanbul, not far from the Blue Mosque. It is famed for displaying what are alleged to be four pieces of the Hajar al-Aswad.

  • The mosque was commissioned by its namesake, Sokullu Mehmet Pasa, who was the last grand vizier and son-in-law of Sulayman the Magnificent. It was his military expertise that later saved the Ottoman Empire from the worst effects of the dissolute rule of Selim the Sot.
  • Completed in 1571/72 CE, this was one of the later buildings designed by the Ottoman Imperial architect Mimar Sinan.

Exterior

  • The mosque complex is built on a steep slope. Sinan got around this problem by making the part of the complex in front of the mosque two stories high. The first level once contained small shops, while the upper level accommodated the madrassa and courtyard still standing today.
Front entrance of the Sokullu Pasa Mosque

Front entrance of the Sokullu Pasa Mosque

  • The large mosque courtyard is surrounded on three sides by the rooms of the madressa, now occupied by a boys Quran school. In the centre of the courtyard is a twelve sided ablution fountain, topped by an onion shaped dome. There’s a single minaret in the northeast corner of the mosque.
Ablution fountain in the Sokullu Pasa mosque

Ablution fountain in the Sokullu Pasa mosque

Interior

  • The interior of the Sokollu Pasa mosque is distinguished by the height of its dome and the impressive display of Iznik tiles on its east wall.  These are from the best period of Turkish ceramics; the white is pure, the green vivid and the red intense. Calligraphic inscriptions are set against a jungle of enormous carnations and tulips, and the designs and colours are echoed all around the mosque and in the conical cap of the mimbar, the tiling of which is unique in Istanbul.
Mehrab and mimbar of the Sokullu Mehmet Pasa mosque

Mehrab and mimbar of the Sokullu Mehmet Pasa mosque

  • While the stained-glass windows are copies, some of the original,  extremely delicate paintwork can be seen in the northwest corner below the gallery and over the entrance. There are more than 90 windows in the interior.

Embedded pieces of the Hajar al-Aswad

  • Embedded in different parts of the mosque are said to be four pieces of the Hajar al-Aswad. These are pieces of the Black Stone attached to the Ka’bah in Makkah, the holiest place in Islam.

1. Above the mehrab

Hajar al-Aswad piece above the mehrab

Hajar al-Aswad piece above the mehrab

 

2. At the front of the mimbar

Hajar al-Aswad piece on the mimbar

Hajar al-Aswad piece on the mimbar

 

3. On top of the mimbar

Hajar al-Aswad piece at the top of the mimbar

Hajar al-Aswad piece at the top of the mimbar

 

4. Above the inner entrance

Hajar al-Aswad piece above the inner entranceway

Hajar al-Aswad piece above the inner entranceway


References: The rough guide to Istanbul, Wikipedia

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