Whatever problems I have with Islamic theology and practice, I freely admit that I love a lot of the art and architecture produced by the various strands of the religion, from giant mosques and madrassas to something as simple as candlesticks.
So, from time to time I'll be posting pictures of stuff I have particularly liked, and explanations of the meaning of the same to the best of my amateur(ish?) ability.
Today's is the Ottoman Turkish masterpiece known as the Selimiye Mosque. Located in Edirne (ancient Adrianople), the first European capital of the Ottoman Empire, the Selimiye was the towering achievement of one of the greatest architects of all time, Sinan. Sinan was born to Christian parents in Anatolia and was taken and forcibly converted to Islam as part of the horrific devshirme child-levy. [As occurred frequently with devshirme men, he did not forget where he came from and once intervened to protect Christians from a rapacious tax collector]. Too old to be inducted into the elite Janissary corps, he was shuffled off to administration and learned engineering instead. Sinan excelled in this field and it wasn't long before his talent was recognized and he was given more and more building projects. In fact, in Sinan's case, something analogous to "George Washington Slept Here" occurred--hundreds of structures in Turkey are claimed for him, though it is unlikely in the extreme that he hand a hand in the majority of them. But the Selimiye (named for Sultan Selim II) is definitely his baby:
The Selimiye was explicitly designed to best Hagia Sophia (the Ottomans were tired of hearing about how they had nothing to compare to this Christian achievement) in size, but does not quite do so.
This is the magnificent dome:
Here is a nice set of pictures by a tourist. Note how the dome "lights up" even on a foggy day.
This is the minbar (not that minbar, B5 fans) or pulpit:
The interior on a brighter day:
Finally, as with all Ottoman architecture of the 16th-17th Centuries, you have to consider the Iznik tilework:
Here is an interesting article about the revival of the Iznik tile production methods, which had been long lost.