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As you approach Üsküdar on a ferry from the European side, it is Sinan’s Mihrimah Sultan Camii (aka Jetty Mosque) that you will probably first catch sight of. But just to the right ‘gleam the pale stones’ (writes Tim Cornwell) of another work by Sinan, his tiny Şemsi Pasha Mosque, ‘where the water laps at the foundations’.
Sinan completed the mosque in 1581 for the grand vizier Şemsi Ahmed Pasha. It is one of the smallest to be ever commissioned by a grand vizier in Constantinople, but is still widely recognised as an example of Sinan’s skills in organically blending architecture with the natural landscape. By placing the tomb of Şemsi Pasha adjacent to the mosque and designing the medrese, which surrounds the courtyard, in a L-shape, Sinan perfectly adapted the building to the coastline. As per the majority of Sinan’s work, the mosque’s proportions are nothing short of beautiful.
Contributions by Andrew Finkel, Harriet Rix, Tim Cornwell et al. Photographs by Monica Fritz, Brian McKee, Fritz von der Schulenburg
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