Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Istanbul 2014 - Fatih Mosque

Date of visit: 5th April 2014

I have read so much history about Fatih Sultan Mehmed, the Ottomon's Conqueror as he was predicted and foreseen by the late Prophet Muhammad s.a.w in his dream that the greatest Muslim Conqueror will 1 day conquer the Constantinople from the Roman throne. Many of the prophets close companion including the famous Abu Ayyub al-Ansari has tried their luck. Abu Ayyub died in circa 672-674 during the 1st Arab siege of Constantinople. He was buried in Eyup Sultan Mosque. No one succeeded but Fatih Sultan Mehmed finally brought the dream glory 8 century later (779 years after the death of Abu Ayyub). It was in 1453 that Sultan Fatih conquered Constantinople. The glory of Ottomon empires lasted in a few centuries, making it as a great empires ever among the the rise and fall of the rest world great historian empires. 

Fatih Sultan Mehmed has ordered a mosque to be built on on the site of the former Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles, which was in ruin since the 4th Crusade War. It was called the Fatih Mosque, or famously known as Conqueror's Mosque, named after the famous Sultan. This Ottoman imperial mosque is located in the Fatih district of Istanbul, Turkey. It was one of the largest examples of Turkish-Islamic architecture in Istanbul and represented an important stage in the development of classic Turkish architecture. 

The Fatih mosque complex was a religious and social building of unprecedented size and complexity built in Istanbul between 1463-1470, 10 years after the Sultan's victory. It was built by the royal architect Atik Sinan on the site of the former Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles. The Fatih mosque was the first monumental project in the Ottoman imperial architectural tradition.

The original complex included a set of well-planned buildings constructed around the mosque. They include 8 madrassa, library, hospital, caravanserai, market, hamam, primary school and public kitchen which served food to the poor. Various mausoleums were added at a later dates. The original complex covered an almost 325 sqmeters area on a side, extending along the Golden Horn side of Fevzipasa Street. Along Fevzipasa street, the beautifully city gate as seen in above 2 photos was secretly admired by me from a far distance (in a bus) when we were passing by those street 10 years ago. I made a silent wish to get down on the bus and wandered the Fevzipasa Street for a closer look and/or taken a photo next to it. Those wishes came true on 5th May 2014, though the walk was quite suffering.

My sister Rosnani was overjoyed as she had the same high admiration over the success of the great Conqueror, Fatih, the story she read from the book and the reason why she wanted to visit Istanbul. We were both achieved our dream to visit Fatih's tomb, the least to pay our respect, say our prayer to him.

The original mosque was badly damaged and repeatedly repaired in the 1509, 1557 and 1754 earthquakes. It was completely destroyed by an earthquake on 22 May 1766 when the main dome collapsed and the walls were irreparably damaged. The current mosque (designed on a completely different plan) was completed in 1771 under Sultan Mustafa III by the architect, Mimar Mehmet Tahir.

The first Fatih mosque had 1 central dome supported by a single semi-dome of the same diameter on the qibla side and suspended on four arches; its dome was 26 meter in diameter. The 2nd mosque which was built in 1771 after the 1766 earthquake was built on a square plan. It has 1 central dome supported by 4 semi-domes. The courtyard, main entrance portal and lower portions of the minarets remain from the original construction, with the remainder consisting of the 1771 Baroque reconstruction.

Fatih's tomb in a beautiful mausoleum next to the mosque, with a beautiful dome. The most beautiful tomb that I have visited so far.

Interior decoration inside the place, Yaasin pamphlet with a beautiful view and a calm feeling inside

Both my sister and I took a Yaasin pamphlet and recited in a quite, teary voice. I don't know about what my sister wishes and prayed for but as for me, I seek Allah's forgiveness for mild punishment whilst allowing me to repay all my sins in this earthly life so that if I were to die, I hope to cleanse all of my sins. I pray to be accepted by Him, to be placed next to Fatih Sultan Mehmed and to receive full blessing from the prophet Muhammad s.a.w. Amen.

The present interior of the Fatih Mosque is essentially a copy of earlier designs invented by Sinan re-used repeatedly by himself and his successors throughout Istanbul. The technique is emulative of the Hagia Sophia. The 26 meter diameter center dome is supported by 4 semi-domes on each axis supported by 4 large marble columns. There are 2 minarets each with twin galleries. The calligraphy within the mosque and the mimbar exhibit a Baroque influence, but the white tiles of inferior quality are a poor comparison with the İznik tiled splendor of mosques such as the Rüstem Pasha Mosque. The mihrab dates from the original construction.

As with other imperial mosques in Istanbul, the Fatih Mosque was designed as a kulliye, or complex with adjacent structures to service both religious and cultural needs. After the visit at the tomb's complex, we rushed inside the mosque to perform Asar and Zohor jama prayer. Ignoring all other thing, I cleansed at the man section. Could not find any women's area in a rush. Anne took a photo of me during the cleanse for prayer.

To the north and south of the mosque are the Sahn-ı Seman, 8 great madrassa, 4 to each side. These buildings are symmetrical, each contains 18 cells for students (each housing four youths) and a dershane. Behind each was an annex, about half as large as the madrassa itself, all of which have been destroyed as a result of road construction. The madrassa provided for about a thousand students, making it a large university for its time.

After the prayer, I wandered to the back courtyard which was beautifully seen from a carpet vis-a-vis beautifully laid carpet to receive visitor's at the courtyard. Everything in this mosque were as grandeur as it's history. The choices of it's interior decoration was simply breath taking. I politely asked a stranger to take my photo at the courtyard entrance. He was in a rush for prayer, hence, the photo result was not something that I satisfied.

Later, I bumped into Anne who was more than willing to take few shots of me inside the mosque. The building has a beautiful courtyard supported by 16 exceptional columns of verd antique and granite (some can be seen from above photo), which were probably salvaged from the Church of the Holy Apostles. 

Our group entered the graveyard which is located on the kiblah side behind the mosque. The tomb of Fatih Sultan Mehmet and his wif,e Gulbahar Hatun were both reconstructed after the earthquake. The tomb of the Conqueror is very baroque with a lavishly decorated interior. The tomb of Gulbahar is simple, with classic lines, and may closely resemble the original. In addition, the graveyard has a large number of graves belonging to leading state officials, including Osman Nuri Pasha.

On the kiblah side of the mosque, connected to it, is a domed library which was built in 1724. One of its doors opens onto the street, while the two other open onto the inner courtyard of the mosque. The library is presently undergoing repairs, and the books are under protection at the Suleymaniye Library. We did not have a chance nor a time to check the area as we were rushing to go back to the hotel and booked a show, Sufi Whirling Dance that night. Most important, we were eager to check our missing baggage, hoping that it were sent by the Airport to the hotel. 

On my way out from the mosque, I saw 2 pretty girls with their father and when asked for a selfie, both were gladly accepted my invitation in our sign languages.  All 3 girls were in pink colors, suited our selfie mood. It was a truly blessed day for me to achieve my personal dream to visit the Conqueror's tomb and mosque while meeting this 2 lovely young lady. 

End of our day 2 visits in Istanbul city.
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