Extract

On the Roof of the World

The 16th-century Atik Valide Mosque in Üsküdar was built as a tribute to the beautiful Venetian woman, captured by Barbarossa, who went on to dominate the Ottoman court. Godfrey Goodwin witnesses the skilful recladding of the mosque’s magnificent dome. Photographs by Simon Upton

  • Fifteen tons of lead rolled into sheets two millimetres thick, are used to clad the vast hemisphere of the Atik Valide Mosque

Before he designed St Paul’s Christopher Wren wrote to ‘Turkey’ North, then the most important English merchant in Istanbul, to ask how the Ottomans built their domes. North wrote back that lead should never be laid on wood but on ‘that earth from which it came’. Like all the work of Sinan, the supreme Ottoman architect, the domes of the Atik Valide Sultan Mosque above Üsküdar conformed to this rule. Once in a while, however, the lead must be relaid to withstand the ravishes of hail, crow and gull.

Originally the lead came from the mines of Anatolia. Lead ingots were melted down into moulds, much as children used to melt lead over an open fire to pour into moulds for toy soldiers. The somewhat larger moulds of the Ottomans produced sheets of lead a metre wide. These can be reused after melting down, but their bed has to be completely renewed in accordance with the ancient formula: a layer of horusan – brick dust mixed with mud (obviating the Byzantines’ use of blood) – and a paste of earth and straw. The craftsman’s skill lies in the marriage of the sheets of lead.

To read the full article, purchase Issue 9

Issue 9, 1995/96 Ideal Worlds
£50.00 / $65.90 / 244.31 TL
Other Highlights from Cornucopia 9
  • Jewels of the Fall

    Along with salads, pickles are an important part of Turkish cookery throughout the year. They range from simple sweet and sour vegetable relishes marinaded in vinegar, or quick-brined side dishes of fish or cucumber, to serious vinegar-based preserves that last well into winter.
    More cookery features

  • Artistic Licence

    Kámil Gök lived all his life in the village of Dereliköy, among people who neither sculpt nor paint. In 1972 he became an impulsive sculptor. As his work proliferated his neighbours turned against him…


  • A Room for the Books

    The library of Ahmet Vefik Pasha, by Patricia Daunt with photographs by Simon Upton. Secluded on a cliff beside the fortress of Rumeli Hisarı is a kiosk that was once the retreat of a bon vivant bibliophile.


  • Stone Age Renaissance

    Turkey’s most innovative architects are learning from the nation’s fast vanishing heritage. Barnaby Rogerson and Rose Baring report on the work of Ahmet Igdirligil, a man dedicated to bringing the logic and fabric of the past into the present day.


  • The Changing Amazon

    Scholars are exploding the stereotype of the submissive sex. Depictions of Anatolian women through the ages, seen at a memorable exhibition at the Topkapi Palace, are part of their ammunition. Report by Jennifer Scarce

  • Birds in Paradise

    The Göksu delta is a wild and windy wetland of marshes, reeds and just the occasional bird-watcher. Here, thousands of the rarest birds break their journey across the Levant. By Alice Carswell with photographs by Nâfiz Güder.



More in the Guide
Buy the issue
Issue 9, 1995/96 Ideal Worlds
£50.00 / $65.90 / 244.31 TL
More Reading