While Sinan kept the form which had by then already matured and become
traditional, his pioneering spirit led him however to make some innovations to
this kind of building. Besides some open roofed or baldachin experiments, he
produced some original rectangular or square planned tombs, such as that of
Yahya Efendi (1571), with its square plan, of Pertev Pasha (1572), with its
dilapidated wooden roof, or of Semsi Ahmet Pasha (1580), which differs from
the others by being adjacent to the mosque and covered with a cloister vault. As
for the Kara Ahmet Pasha Mosque (1558), it is an experiment he was never to
repeat. It has two superimposed domes, and a hexagonal shape on the exterior
while its interior has twelve sides.
The type of tomb plan Sinan most worked on however was octagon-based. Among
tombs which are both externally and internally octagonal shaped and decked with
an eaved entrance, we can cite: The Barbaros Hayreddin Pasha Tomb (1541); the Sehzade
Mehmet Tomb (1543) remarkable for its fluted dome and drum, the polychrome
stonework of its facade, its tiles and the trowel decoration work
of its interior; the Husrev Pasha Tomb (1546); and the Rustem Pasha Tomb
(1561), with its internally fluted dome.
Sometimes, as in the Haseki Hurrem Sultan (1558) and Sokollu Mehmet Pasha
(1574) tombs, the base is octagonal on the exterior while it has sixteen sides
on the inside. This base structure was inversed for the tomb Siyavus Pasha,
commissioned for himself before his death (between 1582 and 1584), which has
sixteen sides on the outside and eight on the inside.
At other times, as in the sehzadeler (1570), Zal Mahmud Pasha (1580) and
Kilic Ali Pasha (1580) tombs, the interior may take the shape of four cross-shaped eyvans, with the exterior not corresponding. As for the portico
surrounding the octagonal based Piyale Pasha Tomb (1573), it resembles the tomb
of Kanuni Sultan Suleyman.
The two important cases in which Sinan departs from the traditional Ottoman
form to adopt an almost antique design are those of the tombs of "Kanuni Sultan
Suleyman and Selim". The Kanuni Sultan Suleyman Tomb (1567) is situated
in the graveyard adjacent to the mosque of the same name. It has an octagonal
base and the lower section is surrounded by a portico. Inside, columns situated
slightly in front of the corners are linked to the external walls by paunched
arches. A 10.5 m. wide interior dome is supported by eight columns while the
exterior dome lies on the outer walls. The dome is decorated with malakc1ri
trowel work. Tiles cover the gaps between the windows of the lower row, and the
dome pendentives, the band of writings over the windows is also made of tiles.
The part remaining over the writings is decorated in marble imitation
The Tomb of Selim II (1577) holds a special place among the tombs designed by
Sinan. Its outward appearance consists of a square prism with bevelled; corners
and a superimposed octagonal prism buttressed with four trompes. The entrance
porch is both domed and eaved. There is a recess on each side of the; entrance.
The wide eave overhangs are supported by iron stanchions. windows\ pierce the
dome, opening onto the octagonal prism and its trompes. Behind the porch, the
entrance wall rises like a portal up to the dome. Inside, eight columns! are
bound together and to the wall by arches. The columns and the octagonall prism
are covered by two separate domes. Only the inner dome can be seen from the
inside. With its niche like mihrab, its modillioned balcony which advances
towards the interior from above the entrance door and its general ;design, the
tomb resembles a mosque. The dome is decorated with coloured ornaments in the
malakclri trowel work technique. The interval between the lower windows is
covered with decorative tiles while the part of the wall situated over the
windows is covered all around with writings set on tiles. The
outer walls are covered with marble. (For a deeper analysis of the space, see
the chapter entitled "Evolution of Space in Sinan's Works")
Tombs designed by Sinan exhibit the following characteristics: windows are
numerous and form two superimposed rows, which allow increased incoming light to
enhance the tiling, ornamental paintings, malakari and other decoration work.
Facades have profiled corners, windows and sometimes coloured stones encrusted
or set in alternate fashion, with inscription friezes on all sides. Some corners
may have embedded columns while the eaves may be crowned with palm leaf motifs
made of stone. Entrance porches are frequent. In imperial tombs, tile panels are
set beside the entrance door, while the interior is decorated with malakari
and tile work. Even if the general structure of the tombs appears to be
similar, their interior decoration seems to attempt to reflect the personality
of the buried person, with less emphasis on mystical atmosphere.