chapter  10
14 Pages

The Süleymaniye

Entering the mosque we find ourselves in a vast almost square room surmounted by a dome. The interior is approximately 58.5 by 57.5 meters, while the diameter of the dome is 27.5 meters and the height of its crown above the floor is 4 7 meter&. To east and west the dome is supported by semidomes, to north and south by arches with tympana filled with windows. The dome-arches rise from four great irregularly shaped piers. Up to this point the plan follows that of Haghia Sophia, but beyond this - as at the Beyazidiye - all is different. Between the piera to north and south triple arcades on two enormous monolithic columns support the tympana of the arches. There are no galleries here, nor can there properly be said to be aisles, since the great columns are so high and so far apart as not really to form a barrier between the central area and the walls; thus the immense space is not cut up into sections as at Haghia Sophia but is centralized and continuous. The method Sinan used to mask the huge buttresses required

THEMOSQUE223

U>supportthefourcentralpiersisveryingenious-- he hasturnedwhatisgenerallyaliabilityinsuchabuilding intoanasset,onthreesidesatleast.Onthenorthand southheincorporatedthebuttressesintothewallsofthe building,allowingthemtoprojectaboutequallywithinand without.Hethenproceededtomaskthisprojectiononboth sidesbybuildinggallerieswitharcadesofcolumnsbetween thebuttresses.Ontheoutsidethegalleryisdouble,with twicethenumberofcolumnsinitsupperstoryasinits lower;ontheinsidetherei.sasinglegalleryonly.Inboth cases-especiallyontheoutside-thedeviceisextremely successful,andisindeedoneofthethingswhichgivesthe exterioritsinterestingandbeautifuldistinction.Onthe eastandwestfacadesthebuttressesaresmaller,forhere theweightofthedomeisdistributedbythesemidomes. Ontheeasternface,therefore,Sinanmerelyplacedthe buttresseswhollyoutsidethebuilding,wheretheirmoderate projectiongivesemphasisandvarietytothatfacade.On thewest,inouropinion,hewasnotsosuccessful.Here,in ordertopreservetheunityofthecourtyardandthe grandeurofthewesternfacadehechosetoplacethe buttresseswhollywithinthebuilding.Againhemasked themwithgalleries,butinthiscasethedevicewas inadequate.Thegreatwestportal,insteadofbeing impressiveasitought,seemssqueezedtightbythedeep projectionofthebuttresses,whichmoreovernotonlythrow itintoimpenetrableshadow,butalsoabutinanunpleasing wayonthetwosmalldomeeonwhichthewesternsemidome reposes.ItcanbesaidthatSinanrarelyquitesucceeded withtheinteriorofhiswestwalls;inalmosteverycase, eveninthesmallermosques,thereisatendencytosqueeze theportal.Buthissolutionofthemainproblemwas masterly.