Yeşil Cami
Bursa, Turkey
Yeşil Cami is a mosque and dervish lodge (zawiye) constructed as part of a multi-functional complex (külliye or imaret) commissioned by Ottoman sultan Mehmed I. The name of the mosque, which means "Green Mosque," comes from its exuberant decoration with green and blue tilework. Inscriptions and endowment deeds date the construction of the mosque between 1419 and 1421/822-824 AH and attribute the work to architect Haci Ivaz Pasa. The building underwent extensive renovation following the earthquake in 1855/1271 AH. These restorations were supervised by French architect Leon Parveillée beginning in 1863/1280 AH.

The building takes the form of a two-story cube with an extension on the qibla (south) side. This form is referred to as an inverted T plan in Anglophone scholarship. It is built of sandstone an dressed with marble panels. The north facade is divided into five sections: a central section with a monumental portal surmounted by an elaborate muqarnas hood flanked on either side by two bays with windows on each story. A muqarnas niche on the first story separates the two bays on either side. Flower designs and scriptures carved in marble frame the entry portal and the windows that flank it, with a different design featured in tympana of every window.Two minarets, later additions to the building, rise from either side of the facade. The domes that emerge above the cube and its southern extension are now clad in lead, but were originally clad in blue and green tiles, giving the mosque it's epithet.

The entrance portal leads onto a short hallway running north-south and intersected by a longer hallway running east-west. The east-west hallways gives access to two staircases leading to the second floor, as well as to to large corner rooms, each with a fireplace and windows opening onto the main (north) facade and the sides of the building. Proceeding straight along the short hallway running north-south, one enters onto a large central chamber with an octagonal fountain surmounted by a dome with a glass lantern (this replaces the original oculus). Flanking this chamber to either side (east and west) are two large iwans, also domed and rising two stories, and two doors giving onto corner rooms similar to those on the north side of the building, each with a fireplace. On the south (qibla) side of the central court is a large prayer hall iwan with a mihrab and two sets of four windows: one at ground level and one at clerestory level. On the north side, two small iwan-like rooms flank the portal leading onto the space from the entrance hall.

The second story, accessed via the staircases off of the east-west access of the entrance hall, is limited to the north side of the complex. At the top of each flight of stairs is a landing in the form of a narrow hallway that gives onto two small side rooms. Two of the side rooms have balcony-windows opening onto the front facade. The other two have balconies overlooking the central domed chamber of the first floor. Both landings also give access to a domed space that sits directly behind the second story of the entrance portal, above the north-south axis of the entrance hall. This space leads through an arch onto an ornately decorated loge that overlooks the central domed chamber of the first floor.

Superbly executed decorations abound on the interior of the mosque. The mihrab is a grand structure ascending from the floor of the south iwan to the base of the dome. It consists of a muqarnas niche surmounted by an inscription plaque, all framed in a rectangular field decorated with concentric bands of tilework, including vegetal motifs, geometric patterns, muqarnas, and an inscription band. A scripture in the mihrab area acknowledges "the work of Masters of Tabriz" on tiles, and the name of Nakkas Ali bin Ilyas Ali appears above the royal box as designer of the entire decorative scheme. Tile revetments also cover the lower portions of the walls in the prayer hall iwan and two side iwans, and include nineteenth/thirteenth-century AH replacements among the originals. Polychrome painted decoration once adorned the upper portions of the walls and ceilings, but this was damaged over the centuries and during the earthquake, and little remains. Perhaps the most stunning decoration that remains from the original program is that of second story loge that opens onto the central domed chamber above the entrance on the north wall. This room is completely covered with tile revetment with geometric and vegetal patterns, a muqarnas cornice, and a tiled ceiling with a large shamsa (sunburst roundel) and tile mosaic vine scroll. 

Sources

Ayverdi, Ekrem Hakki. Osmanlı Mi‘mârîsinde Çelebi ve II. Sultan Murad Devri 806-855 (1403-1451), 46-94. Istanbul: Baha Matbaasi, 1972.

Baykal, Kazim. Bursa ve Anitlari. Istanbul: Türkiye Anit Çevre Turizm Degerlerini Koruma Vakfi, 1982, Istanbul.

Goodwin, Godfrey. A History of Ottoman Architecture, 54-66. London: Thames and Hudson: London, 1971.

Gabriel, Albert. Une Capitale Turque, Brousse, Bursa. Paris: E. de Boccard, 1958.

Kuban, Doğan. Ottoman Architecture. Translated by Adair Mill, 95-107. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors’ Club Ltd., 2010.
Location
At the intersection of Yesil and Emir Sultan Streets, Yesil neighborhood, Bursa, Turkey
Images & Videos
Documents
Associated Names
Part of Site
Events
1419-1421/822-824 AH
restored in 1863/1280 AH
Style Periods
Ottoman
1299-1922
Variant Names
Yeşil Cami
Yesil Cami
Alternate transliteration
Yeşil Camii
Alternate
Green Mosque
Translated
I Mehmed Camii
Alternate
Building Usages
mosque
religious