Kara Ahmed Paşa Külliyesi
Istanbul, Turkey

Kara Ahmed Paşa Külliyesi is a mosque complex located just inside the Byzantine land walls a the edge of old Istanbul. It is named after its patron, who was a grand vizier under Süyleman II for a short period. The date of the complex's construction is disputed, but falls between ca. 1555/962 and 1565/972: inscriptions on the complex itself are dated 1558-1559/966 AH and 1561-1562/969 AH. An inscription plaque that once hung in the mosque states that work on the complex was not completed until 1571-1572/979 AH.1 The endowment deed for the complex lists a mosque, a madrasa, a dervish convent (zawiye), a hospice (tabhane), and an elementary school (mekteb). The surviving structures include the mosque, madrasa, elementary school, and a mausoleum.

The mosque

Today the site occupies an irregular plot of land bounded by several lanes. The mosque and madrasa occupy most of the plot. The mosque is a rectangular prayer hall with a large central dome supported by six columns forming a hexagonal bay. To the east and west, two semidomes cover the side areas between the hexagonal bay and the walls of the rectangle. Access to the mosque is provided by two doors at the northeast and northwest corners of the mosque. Numerous windows on the drum of the dome and on the four walls of the prayer hall illuminate the interior. 

The madrasa

On the northwest side of the mosque, where one would expect a forecourt on a larger, imperial structure, lies the madrasa. The facade of the mosque is fronted by a five-domed portico that opens onto the madrasa's central court. The other three sides of this court are bounded by domed arcades. On the end of the courtyard opposite the mosque portico, these domed arcades give onto sixteen small cells forming a "U" around that side of the courtyard. The central bay of the domed arcade on the northwestern side gives onto a larger, domed room that served as the madrasa's study hall (dershane).

The mausoleum and school

The mausoleum and school are located outside the enclosure of the mosque and madrasa, down a modern lane to the west. The mausoleum is a domed hexagon with one aperture per side. The primary school today consists of a rectangular building with two large rooms. It is assumed that there have been renovations to this building over time.


  1. A detailed account of the evidence is given in Necipoğlu, Age of Sinan, 379-380.


Necipoğlu, Gülru. The Age of Sinan: Architectural Culture in the Ottoman Empire. London: Reaktion Books, 2005.

Topkapi neighborhood, Istanbul, Turkey
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Associated Names
Associated Collections
ca. 1555-1572/962-979 AH
Style Periods
Variant Names
Kara Ahmed Paşa Külliyesi
Kara Ahmed Pasha Complex
Kara Ahmet Pasha Complex
Kara Ahmed Paşa Camii
Kara Ahmed Pasha Mosque
Building Usages
primary school