Monday, October 20, 2014

Süleymaniye Cami....Finally!


We finally made it to Süleymaniye Cami. After lunch, we successfully retraced our steps back from Rüstem Paşa Cami. Hard to believe but true!

We entered back through the same arched entryway and this time, instead of going straight towards the cemetery, we turned left and headed towards the visitors entrance.



The one thing I love about Süleymaniye is the expansive garden around it and the view overlooking the Golden Horn.  More about the view later.


Although we were there hours ahead of the next call to prayer, I wasn't about to take any chances.  In we went.  The courtyard here is gorgeous....I think it looks royal.



Even the courtyard domes are wonderfully painted.  This is Mimar Sinar's crowning achievement as Süleyman the Magnificent's chief architect and he most certainly did his best to add the fine touches to his design.


By now, we had gotten the routine down.  At the tourist entrance, you grab one of the disposable plastic bags to put your shoes in.  When I came in 2008, things weren't quite so well organized when it came to the bags.  Back then, I remember Lei and I bringing our own bags or else grabbing one of the used ones.  Under no circumstances are you allowed to just pack your shoes inside your backpack.  I don't know why.

Ladies have to cover their heads.  I had come prepared with my own....a very lightweight scarf that I was given when I was on a work assignment in Dubai.


After we removed our shoes, we entered through the large wooden doors.  I paused to admire them.  Beautifully carved.  The long vertical door handle was to die for!


It wasn't until I took a closer look that I realized that the upper and lower panels were inlaid.  See the tiny, little black and white triangles?  They're not painted.  It's inlaid wood!  Notice the relief work of the center star.


Inside, we were greeted by a very bright, expansive space.  It's a magnificent room and I now know why so many people rant and rave about the splendor of this place.



The domed ceiling is ornately painted but with such delicacy, it looks like lace.


Imagine what it must have been like for the artist to have painted it...most likely laying down on a scaffold of some sort, working without any light to see by.  One mistake and.....


Indeed, Mimar Sinan saved his best decorative flourishes for this mosque.  Not only do you have magnificent Iznik tiles adorning the walls and a magnificently painted ceiling, but there's also wonderful plaster relief.  Small disk shaped Iznik tiles add another level of beauty.


With mosques, so much of what is to be appreciated is overhead; begging you to look up!


Like in Rüstem Paşa, the color red plays a role in the decoration here but the shade of  is not as deep and dark as in Rüstem Paşa - it almost looks pink, conveying a bit of (perhaps, unintended) femininity. 



Outside, we walked across the lawn to take in the view of the Golden Horn.  Süleyman could not have picked a nicer spot to build his mosque!


Based on everything that I had read and all the images I had seen, I had high expectations for Süleymaniye Cami and I have to say, I was not disappointed.  The artisanship and workmanship that it took to bring Mimar Sinan's vision to life is incomparable.

It took three visits to Istanbul to finally get here but it was well worth the wait and the effort!


Our day's not over yet.  To the water we go!