The Sehzade Mosque

This is Sinan’s second semidomed attempt, and corresponds to the last stage in the development of this type of structure. Indeed, with its four semidomes, the mosque has a fully matured centralised plan. The scheme is both an improved version of the Mihrimah Mosque in Uskudar and a reinterpretation of the old model of the Fatih (1471) and Beyazit (1506) Mosques. This plan had also been implemented at the Fatih Pasha Mosque (1522) in Diyarbakir and the Ulu (Grand) Mosque (end of the 15th century) in Elbistan. It is basically a square, with the space spreading around a vertical axis. The dominance of the central dome is felt as soon as one enters the mosque. Indeed, the modest size of the piers carrying the dome and the absence of columns to isolate the lateral galleries facilitate the perception of the central area in its entirety.

From the outside, the whole mass of the mosque appears structured like a pyramid. The porticoes on the two side walls are innovations which happily herald future developments. They soften the building’s flanks, and blend perfectly into the entrance facade giving them all a more human proportion as well as an increased functionality. The main function of these porticoes is to hide the buttresses. It is quite striking that, after designing only a few mosques, Sinan should succeed to produce such a bold and at the same time mature work. Here, despite his general preference for greater simplicity, Sinan has created his most decorated building, perhaps because it was designed in memory of the death of a very young prince. The plan of the sehzade Mosque met with great success, and served as a model for large mosques built after Sinan such as the Yeni Valide Mosque (1597-1663), the Sultan Ahmet (Blue) Mosque, (1609) as well as the Yeni (New) Fatih Mosque (1667-1771).