Edirne: "Splendid Architecture"



12 November 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

Someone once criticized me for taking too few "people" photos and too many "building" photos. OK. Maybe. OK. But in Edirne, how could I resist, how could I resist the buildings?

The guidebook uses the phrases "an embarrassment of architecture" and "splendid architecture." It's no exaggeration.

I walked from mosque to mosque and market to market, thankful that I decided to come here and thankful that I remembered to recharge the battery in my camera.

The first mosques I encountered were only just "splendid." I circled them, and circled them again before entering the gardens and interiors, circling again and again, and looking up, always looking up.

I wandered and wandered, and then, then, stopped dead in my tracks at the first glimpse of the Selimiye Camii. Beyond "splendid," the Selimiye Mosque is majestic. Again the guidebook: "grand," "elegant," "spectacular," "exquisite."

Just a bit of history:

The Selimiye Mosque (1569-75) was built for Sultan Selim by the great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan (1490-1588) who also built the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul.

A few architectural notes:

"The broad, lofty dome – at 31.3m (102 ft) marginally wider than that of Istanbul's Aya Sofya – is supported by eight unobtrusive pillars, arches and external buttresses, creating a surprising spacious interior. As they only bear a portion of the dome's weight, the walls are sound enough to hold dozens of windows, the light from which brings out the colorful calligraphic decorations on the interior." *

"Part of the Selimyie's striking effect comes from its four 71m (233 ft) high minarets, which Selim fluted to emphasize their height. Each tower also has three balconies." *

What a sight! What a building! I walked around the mosque once more, made some new friends and had a coffee. As evening approached, I walked around again. And yes, I did find Turkish street scenes and people to photograph.

When you travel to Istanbul, please take a side trip to Edirne. Or better yet, travel from Istanbul to Edirne and keep heading west. The Greek and Bulgarian frontiers are only thirty minutes away. Talk about buildings!


* "Turkey." Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd. 2009. pg 169.

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