Mimar Sinan

Koca Mimâr Sinân Ağa, Mimar Sinan, pronounced  (c. 1489/1490 – July 17, 1588 was the chief Ottoman architect and civil engineer for sultans Suleiman the Magnificent, Selim II, and Murad III. He was responsible for the construction of more than three hundred major structures and other more modest projects, such as his Islamic primary schools (sibyan mektebs). His apprentices would later design the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul and help design the Taj Mahal in the Mughal Empire.
The son of a stonemason, he received a technical education and became a military engineer. He rose rapidly through the ranks to become first an officer and finally a Janissary commander, with the honorific title of ağa. He refined his architectural and engineering skills while on campaign with the Janissaries, becoming expert at constructing fortifications of all kinds, as well as military infrastructure projects, such as roads, bridges and aqueducts. At about the age of fifty, he was appointed as chief royal architect, applying the technical skills he had acquired in the army to the “creation of fine religious buildings” and civic structures of all kinds. He remained in post for almost fifty years.
His masterpiece is the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, although his most famous work is the Suleiman Mosque in Istanbul.

Early years 

According to contemporary biographer, Mustafa Sâi Çelebi, Sinan was born in 1489 in a small town called Ağırnas near the city of Kayseri in Anatolia.
Sinan grew up helping his father in his work, and by the time that he was conscripted would have had a good grounding in the practicalities of building work. There are three brief records in the library of the Topkapı Palace, dictated by Sinan to his friend Mustafa Sâi Çelebi. (Anonymous Text; Architectural Masterpieces; Book of Architecture). In these manuscripts, Sinan divulges some details of his youth and military career. His father is mentioned as “Abdülmennan.


His training as an army engineer gave Sinan an empirical approach to architecture rather than a theoretical one. But the same can be said of the great Western Renaissance architects, such as Brunelleschi and Michelangelo.
Various sources state that Sinan was the architect of around 360 structures which included 84 mosques, 51 small mosques (“mescit”), 57 schools of theology (“medrese”) 7 schools for Koran reciters (“darülkurra”), 22 mausoleums (“türbe“), 17 Alm Houses (“imaret”), 3 hospitals (“darüşşifa”), 7 aqueducts and arches, 48 inns (“caravansary”), 35 palaces and mansions, 8 vaults and 46 baths. Sinan held the position of chief architect of the palace, which meant being the overseer of all construction work of the Ottoman Empire, for nearly 50 years, working with a large team of assistants consisting of architects and master builders.


During his tenure during 50 years of the post of imperial architect, Sinan is said to have constructed or supervised 476 buildings (196 of which still survive), according to the official list of his works, the Tazkirat-al-Abniya. He couldn't possibly have designed them all, but he relied on the skills of his office. He took credit and the responsibility for their work. For, as a janissary, and thus a slave of the sultan, his primary responsibility was to the sultan. In his spare time, he also designed buildings for the chief officials. He delegated to his assistants the construction of less important buildings in the provinces.
84 large mosques (camii),
57 colleges,
52 smaller mosques (mescit),
48 bath-houses (hamam).
35 palaces (saray),
22 mausoleums (türbe),
20 caravanserai (kervansaray; han),
17 public kitchens (imaret),
8 bridges,
6 store houses or granaries
7 Koranic schools (medrese),
7 aqueducts,
3 hospitals (darüşşifa)
Some of his works:

Azapkapi Sokullu Mosque in Istanbul
Caferağa Medresseh
Selimiye Mosque in Edirne
Süleymaniye Complex
Kılıç Ali Pasha Complex
Molla Çelebi Mosque
Haseki Baths
Piyale Pasha Mosque
Şehzade Mosque
Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in Edirnekapı
Mehmed Pasha Sokolović Bridge in Visegrad
Nisanci Mehmed Pasha Mosque
Rüstem Pasha Mosque
Zal Mahmud Pasha Mosque
Kadirga Sokullu Mosque
Koursoum Mosque or Osman Shah Mosque in Trikala
Al-Takiya Al-Suleimaniya in Damascus
Yavuz Sultan Selim Madras
Mimar Sinan Bridge in Büyükçekmece
Church of the Assumption in Uzundzhovo
Tekkiye Mosque
Khusruwiyah Mosque
Oratory at the Western Walledit