We Remember: Mimar Sinan, one of the world’s greatest architects

Mimar Sinan, born 15 April 1489

Considered to be one of the greatest architects of all time, Mimar Sinan served several sultans during the classical Ottoman period: Süleyman the Magnificent, Selim II and Murad III. The son of a stonemason, Sinan grew up in Kayseri where he received a technical education. He became a military engineer, rising to the rank of commander in the Janissary. During this time, he refined his architectural and engineering skills, constructing military forts, roads, bridges and aqueducts.

At the age of fifty, he was appointed Chief Royal Architect, building some 300 civic structures – many of which still adorn the Istanbul skyline – including fine religious buildings, palaces, inns, fountains, aqueducts and schools. His most famous work is the Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul. However his masterpiece is the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne (pictured above), with its stunning dome, interior and minarets (83m high).

The Maglova Aqueduct runs across the Alibey River in Istanbul


Pictured above is the Maglova Aqueduct in Istanbul. It runs 850 feet long across the Alibey River in Istanbul and is nearly 120 feet tall. The aqueduct also has a path above the first level of arches for travellers to use.

Completed in 1563, it was the second aqueduct Sinan built in this location: the first one was destroyed in a flood. Learning from this first experience, he designed the Maglova Aqueduct to be extra-strong with thicker triangular buttresses.

Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge, by Mimar Sinan


Above is the Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge, which crosses the Drina River in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is made up of eleven arches that span nearly 600 feet in total and was completed in 1577.

Sinan was commissioned to build this hamam (below) by Chief Admiral Kılıç Ali Paşam, whose name it now bears. Part of a mosque and school complex, the hamam was constructed in 1580 to serve the levends (marine forces in the Ottoman navy). The building is famous for Mimar Sinan’s architectural lines and beauty and is one of the symbolic buildings in Tophane in Istanbul’s harbour district. It re-opened in 2012 after seven years of painstaking and intensive restoration.

Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı, Karaköy, Istanbul, by Mimar Sinan


Main photo: Mimar Sinan’s masterpiece: the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne. Photo by Enver Şengϋl