BEYAZIT SÜLEYMANİYE LALELİ ŞEHZADEBAŞI
Beyazıt Square was also used as a square in the Byzantine Era (Forum Tauri). When Fatih conquered İstanbul, he built the first palace in the area where the Istanbul University is located. The square has gone through various changes throughout history and survived up to the present.
Beyazıt Square was called Forum Tauri (The Bull’s Square). The square, which has been changed in various aspects up to now, has great importance in terms of our political history. The district of Beyazıt is where the first Ottoman palace was built. As in the Byzantine Era, the square kept its importance in the Ottoman era. The various buildings built here until the 19th century show that the Old Palace in Beyazıt was not abandoned after Topkapı Palace was finished. Beyazıt Square gained a new look and status in the 16th century when the külliye (social complex) was built here and various other edifices were added within this square. After the month of Ramadan, herds of sheep and other sacrificial animals were presented to Muslims for their Islamic duties until the 18th century. The importance of Beyazıt Square increased more in the Period of the Restoration of State (Tanzimat) and the Old Palace served as the headquarters (Serasker Building) for the new military formation. This was following the Vak’a-i Hayriyye (the “favorable event”) which lead to the abolishment of the former military force, the Janissaries, which had gone out of control of the Sultan. In 1866, the Seraskerat (the general staff) of Sultan Abdülaziz left its mark on the history on this square. It was mainly a social gathering area where political views were exchanged: therefore, Sultan Abdülhamid II prohibited political activities as part of his heavy censorship measures. After the announcement of the Constitutional Monarchy, this square was called by various names due to the important political events occurring there. The Serasker Building is presently the main building of İstanbul University.
The current campus of Istanbul University was built as Harbiye Nezareti (Military Administration) in the 19th century. However, İstanbul University has a history of 550 years as the longest-established and biggest university institution of our country. The university offers about 55 thousand students bachelor’s and master’s degrees with 17 faculties, 12 academies, 13 institutes and over 30 research centers. The additional branch program offers certificates to students for secondary fields of specialization. İn additiont, there are student exchanges with European, American and Asian countries. This year the application of double diplomas for bachelor’s and master’s degree started based on agreements with various foreign universities such as Köln, Bonn, Ruhr and Bochum Universities in Germany this year.
The university is now spread over various residential areas of İstanbul. Different academies and faculties of the university and the rectorate are located in Beyazıt, Laleli, Saraçhane and Vezneciler. Two big campuses are located in Avcılar and Bahçeköy, which are about 25 km from the city centre.
This mosque is considered to be a turning point of Ottoman architecture. A section of the külliye of the mosque, whose architecture is influenced by Hagia Sophia, is now used as the Museum of Turkish Foundation of Calligraphic Arts. The museum is a spectacular place where examples of the art of calligraphy as well as materials and tools used in calligraphy are exhibited. The coffee house under the famous old chestnut tree has maintained its fame throughout history. Particularly on Sundays, there is a colorful bazaar around it.
The Beyazıt Tower
The tower built in 1828 in the courtyard of İstanbul University was used as a watchtower by firemen. The first watchtower was built from wood and it burnt down during a fire; it was subsequently rebuilt of stone. The first palace after the conquest of İstanbul was built here but it has not survived into the present.
The Turkish Bath of Beyazıt
(Patrona Halil Bathhouse)
The bathhouse which can be seen at the right while walking from Beyazıt to Aksaray holds great importance in the Ottoman history. The leader of the 1730 rebellion that ended the Tulip Era (the westernization attempt of the Ottoman Empire), Patrona Halil, was a masseur in this Turkish bathhouse. It has been since restored and used for cultural activities.
This is the place where craftsmen processing silver and golden threads worked. It was formerly in the area where Çorlulu Ali Paşa Madrasah was located and later on it was moved from Beyazıt to Aksaray. The first mint of İstanbul was inside Simkeşhane. Silver Ottoman coins used to be minted here. This building, which is also known as the Simkeşhane Bazaarwith the addition of a public fountain and school, was built as “Simkeşhane-i Amire” in 1707 by Ümmetulah Hatun, the favorite woman of Sultan Ahmet III. The building is presently used as the İstanbul Provincial Public Library of Orhan Kemal and the Library of Manuscripts.
THE ANTIQUE MESE ROAD
THEODOSIUS VICTORY ARCH
The arch of victory ordered by the last emperor of the Roman Empire, Theodosius, is located on the southwestern side of Beyazıt Square. The archaeological items in this square, which used to be surrounded with public and civil buildings decorated with arcades and marble, were uncovered while Beyazıt Square and Ordu Caddesi (Military Avenue) were being renovated between 1948 and 1961.
The victory arch was an arched structure which had three entrances, two of which were short entrances on both sides and one big entrance in the middle. It was planned as an arch similar to those on the avenues of Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire.
A sculpture of Theodosius stood in the middle and the sculptures of his sons, Arcadius and Honorius, stood on both sides. The avenue, called the Mese Road, used to be the spine of the old city and continued on to the west. This road passed through the victory arch of Theodosius and went on to the Balkan Peninsula through Thrace. It is still being used in the present.
he district of Süleymaniye, which is part of Eminönü, got its name from the Süleymaniye Mosque and Külliye built by Mimar Sinan upon the order of Kanuni Sultan Süleyman.
The madrasahs of the külliye of Süleymaniye were probably the most important and elite districts of the city due to the respectability the ulema (Muslim theologians and scholars) until the first quarter of the 17th century. In addition, they were the institutions which offered the highest level of education in İstanbul.
The district used to be one of the important trade and science centers of İstanbul during the Ottoman Era. Now it is an important centre for culture and tourism.
Süleymaniye lost its importance in the 20th century. Hoever, its traditional structures have been preserved since the 1950’s. Despite some damage, the district of Süleymaniye is still a historical district where tourism becomes the priority.
This is the mosque built by Mimar Sinan between 1550 and 1557 in the name of Kanuni Sultan Süleyman. Süleymaniye Mosque, which is considered to be Mimar Sinan’s apprentice work, was built as a part of the Süleymaniye Külliye which includes a library, madrasah, hospital, bathhouse, soup kitchen and an old burial ground.
The Süleymaniye Mosque is one of the most important examples of Ottoman architecture. Although it has survived over a hundred earthquakes since it was built, there is not even a single crack in its walls. The dome of the mosque, which is situated on four elephant feet, is 53 meters high and it has a diameter of 26.5 meters. This main dome is supported with two semi-domes, like Hagia Sophia. There are 32 windows on the dome wheel and there is one minaret each on the four sides of the courtyard of the mosque. The two minarets adjacent to the mosque have three minaret symbols and they are 76 meters high. The other two meeting place of the crowd have two minaret symbols which are 56 meters high. The new mosque was built with air circulation that cleaned up the lampblack caused by the oil lamps. The lampblack coming from the mosque was collected in the room above the main entrance gate and used for making ink. In the middle of the courtyard, surrounded by 28 arcades, there is a rectangular fountain.
Tombs of Kanuni and his wife Hürrem Sultan
In the direction of Mecca in the mosque, there is a burial ground where the tombs of Kanuni Sultan Süleyman, his wife Hürrem Sultan, and Mimar Sinan are located. The ceiling of the tomb of Kanuni Sultan Süleyman was decorated with metallic plates embedded with diamonds to create the impression of the sky full of stars.
The entrance to the Süleymaniye Mosque has a plain structure in terms of decoration. The windows on the altar wall are decorated with stained glass. The Sura (sections of the Quran) of Conquest and the Sura of Divine Light are written on tile medallions by the windows located on both sides of the altar. The calligrapher was Hasan Çelebi.
Süleymaniye Turkish Bathhouse
This hammam was built in 1557 at the same time as the Süleymaniye Mosque and Külliye. There used to be a “jaundice bowl” in the bathhouse which was lost after being used for centuries.
People believed that patients with jaundice regained their health after washing themselves with the water in this bowl.
The eight marble pillars surrounding the marble washing platform are spectacular.
This was a Catholic Italian church of the 12th century. It was designated to the order of Kalenderi after the conquest. It was turned into a mosque in the 18th century by Babüssaade Ağası Maktul Beşir Ağa. It went through a big fire in the 19th century and it was repaired in 1854. It was restored in 1968 and opened to religious services again.
Laleli is a district whose name was not usually mentioned historically until the 18th century. No important building was constructed in this district during the period between the development carried out by Sultan Bayezid II and the construction of Laleli Mosque after the conquest of İstanbul. After the restoration, there was not a change in the function of Laleli until World War I. New street planning studies were carried out after the fire of 1918. People of the middle class and old families resided here.
The architect of this building was Mehmet Tahir Ağa (1760-1730). The most important characteristic of Laleli Mosque is that it was constructed with the influence of baroque architecture. Wavy domes, many windows, and animated facades were usually used in Ottoman architecture at that time. The background is square. The main dome is situated on eight pillars and it is surrounded by six semi-domes. There are two entrances to the courtyard at the side of the façade. The graves of Mustafa III and Selim III are within the tomb near the mosque. The stair courtyard is situated at a high level and there is a cellar below it. The tomb of Laleli Baba, after whom the mosque was named, was pulled down in the 1950’s. The bathhouse was also demolished. The gate in the avenue was relocated to the back in the 1950’s, as it was in the way of the road construction. Since it was the last Külliye ordered by a sultan, this building has special importance. No other Külliye was ordered by a sultan thereafter.
Laleli Bodrum Mesihpaşa Mosque
The Bodrum Mosque (Bodrum Mesihpaşa Mosque or the Church of Mireloin as it was formerly named) is a religious building that dates from the Eastern Roman Era. It was ordered by Emperor Romanos Lekapenos as a church for the Mireloin Monastery in the 10th century. It was turned into a mosque by the Grand Vizier Mesih Paşa during the reign of Bayezid II. There is a rotunda that dates from the 5th century near the church. Romanos Lekapenos covered the top of the building in the 10th century and ordered the building of a palace which has not survived to the present. The church was also
built in this period. The church is built of brick. It is planned as a closed cross with four brackets. The main building is covered with a high dome with windows in it. To the east of the building there is an apse with three facades. It is semi-circular inside and cells designed as clovers are on both sides of this apse. The original structure of the dome has been preserved. There is also a cistern near the mosque.
The outer courtyard of the Şehzade Mosque has six gates. The double minarets of the mosque, each of which has two minaret symbols, are the most interesting details of the mosque. The plain structure of other mosques and minarets is not present here. The approach of Mimar Sinan in terms of decoration in these minarets is unique.
This is one of the oldest water structures of İstanbul. It is also called the Hadrianus or Valens Aqueduct. Its construction dates back to the Byzantine era. However, the precise date of its construction is not known. The aqueduct built by the Byzantines to provide water to İstanbul was damaged over time. It was put into service again after the conquest of İstanbul by Fatih Sultan Mehmet. Additions were made to the structure during the reign of Bayezid II. Its total length was about 1 km but its length today is only a few hundred meters. It is now protected as it is a historical structure. It is located near the building İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality City Hall in the district of Saraçhane in İstanbul.
Mimar Sinan was born in the village of Ağırnas in Kayseri. He was brought to İstanbul as a devşirme (the recruitment of non-Muslim boys by the Janissaries) during the reign of Yavuz Sultan Selim. He worked in the construction of inns, palaces, fountains and tombs under the supervision of the masters of the era. After he built a bridge over the river of Pruth within thirteen days during the military expedition to Moldavia, he earned the appreciation of Kanuni Sultan Süleyman and he was promoted to the status of Master Architect. He looked at architectural structures in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, the Balkans, and Vienna as well as all of Southern Europe. His most outstanding works are the Şehzadebaşı Mosque and Külliye, the Süleymaniye Mosque and the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne. The number of his known works is 364 which include 84 mosques, 53 small mosques, 57 madrasahs, 7 darülkurra’s (a madrasah where reading the Quran was taught), 22 tombs, 17 soup kitchens, 3 darüşiffa’s (a structure which can be described as a hospital), 5 waterway arches, 8 bridges, 20 caravansaries, 35 palaces, 8 cellars, and 48 Turkish bathhouses.