The Kara Ahmet Pasha Mosque, Topkapi

This mosque is part of a kulliye which is situated in the Topkapi district (alongt north-west city walls) and also includes a medrese, a primary school and a tom The complex was built at the request of Kara Ahmet Pasha, one of Kanuni Sultan Suleyman’s sadrazams (Prime Minister). The medrese and the mosque share the same courtyard while the primary school and the tomb remain at a distance from the mosque.

With the Kara Ahmet Pasha Mosque (1558?-65?) Sinan attempts to improve on the Uc serefeli and Sinan Pasha mosques by adding trompes to the hexagon structure. Another interesting aspect of the plan is that its polygon based dom is supported by independent columns. These columns stand very close to the main entrance (north) and kiblah (south) walls. The two columns on each side are linked by arches to the buttresses which rise in the middle of the side galleries.

Sinan would later use a similar system of independent columns to support the dome in octagon based buildings such as the tombs of Kanuni Sultan Suleyman, (1567) and Selim II (1577), and with two piers adjacent to the wall in the Selimiye Mosque in Edime (1568-75) and the Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Mosque at Azapkapi (1578). According to Egli, two extra domes were to be added on each side of the main dome in the original Kara Ahmet Pasha Mosque plan, but the idea was later abandoned for various reasons. The windows on both sides of the entrance rise as high as the latecomers’ porch. We find the same kind of window arrangement in the Rustem Pasha Mosque in the Tahtakale district.