Mahmud Pasa Complex
Istanbul, Türkiye
Mahmud Pasa (d. 1474), a devsirme from Serbia, was the grand-vizier of Mehmed II between 1453-66 and 1472-74 and is known also as a poet and a patron of the arts. The complex he built inside the city walls following the fall of Constantinople consists of a mosque, a madrasa (medrese), a han, public baths (hamam) and his mausoleum (türbe). The law court (mahkeme), Koranic school (sibyan mektebi) and the soup kitchen (imaret) are not extant.

The mosque of the complex was completed in 1464 (869 A.H.) and thoroughly renovated during the rule of Osman III in 1753 (1169 A.H.) It has since been restored twice, in 1828 and 1936. It is composed of a two-unit prayer hall flanked by eyvans to the east and west and preceded by a vestibule and a portico to the north. The portico was altered in the 18th century when its six marble columns were encased in stone piers. Its five bays are covered by domes. The grand portal with inscriptions leads into a three-bay vestibule extended with vaulted rooms on either end. Its central bay, which opens to the prayer hall through a tall arch, is crowned with a stalactite cross vault. Its neighboring bays have umbrella vaults composed of 24 ribs.

The prayer hall consists of two domed units separated by a grand arch. Its interior of the prayer hall, including the mihrab and minbar, was renovated in the 19th century. The sultan's box (hünkar mahfili) to the left was added by Mahmud II in 1828-9. (A.H. 1244). Doors on either side open to corridors that run alongside the prayer hall, giving access to three open eyvans, ending at the vestibule. Here, small passages lead to side exits. The mosque has a single minaret on the northwest corner, which is accessed from the room to the west of the vestibule. Its stalactite balcony was replaced with a simpler design in 1936. The stone panels of the exterior were replaced in time. A contemporary ablution fountain stands in the plaza before the mosque.

The hamam, built in 1466 (871 A.H.), is located on the Mahmud Pasa highway leading up to the mosque. It consists of an entrance hall with latrines, a cold-room (sogukluk) and a hot-room (sicaklik). The entry to the baths is adorned with a grand muqarnas portal beyond which the entrance hall looms large with its tall dome measuring 27 meters in diameter. Entering the smaller cold-room under a demi-dome, the square space with two eyvans and private bathing cells (halvet) is covered with a whorl dome. The following hot room has an octagonal navel stone (göbektasi) at its center under a dome pierced with lights that sits on eight piers. It has five eyvans with taps and basins between the piers and two other eyvans give access to private cells at the four corners of the chamber. A han stands today on the site of the women's section that was demolished. The remaining men's section survived damage by fire in 1755 and was restored in 1955.

The han, called the Kürkçü or Furriers' Han, is located down the Mahmud Pasa Highway from the hamam. It was completed in 1476 (871 A.H.) It had 167 rooms on two stories organized around two open courtyards and a basement for storage. The first courtyard is a replica of Fidan Han in the market neighborhood of Bursa, built also by Mahmud Pasa. It has remained intact save its portico, which was enclosed for additional space. The second courtyard, irregular in plan with five unequal sides, was probably used for stables and storage. It is now largely replaced with modern shops and buildings. A freestanding assembly of shops, placed diagonally inside the first courtyard, used to have a mescid on its second floor. It is the only han that has come to our day from the Mehmed I era.

Mahmud Pasa and his son are buried in an octagonal tomb to the south of the mosque. The exterior of the tomb is covered with stone panels that are inlaid with blue-green tiles between the cornice and the lower windows that are arranged in a pattern of interlocking wheels and stars. The domed interior is entered through a double arched door to the northeast. Built in 1473 (878 A.H), a year prior to the execution of Mahmud Pasa by Mehmed II, the tomb was restored by architect Mustafa Ayasli in 1946.

The madrasa of the complex has been ruined save its large classroom (dersane).


Ayverdi, Ekrem Hakki. Osmanli mi'marisinde Fatih devri : 855-886 (1451-1481): III. Baha Matbaasi: Istanbul, 1973, pp. 443-451.

Ayverdi, Ekrem Hakki. Osmanli mi'marisinde Fatih devri : 855-886 (1451-1481): IV. Baha Matbaasi: Istanbul, 1974, pp. 580-589, 602-605.

Goodwin, Godfrey. A History of Ottoman Architecture. Thames and Hudson: London, 1997 (reprint of 1971), pp. 109-113.

Öz, Tahsin. Istanbul Camileri. Türk Tarih Kurumu Basimevi: Ankara, 1987. Volume 1, pp. 98-99.

Kuran, Aptullah. The mosque in early Ottoman architecture. University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1968, pp. 142-143.
On Mahmutpasa Highway near the Nuruosmaniye Mosque, Eminönü district, Istanbul, Türkiye
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Mahmud Pasa Külliyesi
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