Situated on a small hill in the centre of Edirne, the kulliye is composed of
the mosque, a medrese, a dar-ul had is and a timekeeper's room. The arasta (row
of shops) which, due to the slightly sloping nature of the ground, acts as a
retaining wall at the bottom part of the courtyard, was enlarged after Sinan.
With its dome and four minarets, the mosque can be seen from a long way as one
approaches the city, which it has come to symbolise. The courtyard is very
large. Sinan may have planned to include more buildings in it.
Here, Sinan attempted to apply the Rustem Pasha plan on a monumental scale
(the dome has a diameter of 31.22 m and a height of 42.25 m), with the addition
of a protruding mihrab, producing the most acclaimed work in Ottoman
architecture. The single dome covers the whole depth of the mosque while the
salient mihrab and lateral spaces add an extra perspective. The span lengths are
reduced due to the greater number of piers causing the dome to appear more
elevated and dominant than in the case of domes supported by square structures,
where the arches and their windowed intermediary walls are indeed at least as
large, and therefore as impressive as the dome itself. The dome of the Selimiye
covers some 30% of the mosque's floor surface (2000 m2). In the Sehzade and the
Suleymaniye, this ratio is 17%. In terms of general space perception on the
other hand, the Selimiye reaches a value slightly below that of the Sehzade.
The weight of the dome bears on the pillars and from there
reaches on to the buttresses through the arches linking these two elements. As
for the buttresses, they are integrated into the basement portico of the outer
facade, while the .gallery walls on the second storey protrude as far out as
the basement portico, giving a palatial aspect to the whole facade. The
buttress piers graduatly retreat as they rise, reaching up to the stabilising
turrets through abutment arches. The outer portico is not confined to the flanks
but, for the first time in mosque architecture, continues also along the mihrab
wall. The muezzin's gallery is situated directly below the dome, with a sadirvan
type of fountain installed on the ground floor. The pyramidal structure of the
building is steeper than in the sehzade and the Suleymaniye. There are four
minarets of the same height (71 m) situated at the corners of the building. Each
minaret is decked with three balconies. No one before Sinan had been able to
establish the position of the J minarets and their proportion in relation to the
main body of the mosque as t well as he generally did. In the case of the
Selimiye, these proportions reach a perfection found in no other mosque. The
mosque is also famous for its tile panels, its marble pulpit, the ornamental
paintings of its muezzin gallery and the geometric kundekari motifs of its
Above text and pictures are from the book titled "Turkish Art and Architecture in Anatolia and Mimar Sinan".
You can purchase "Turkish Art and Architecture in Anatolia and Mimar Sinan" book and other Turkey related books from Explore Turkey Bookstore.