Sokullu Mehmet Paşa ve Ismihan Sultan Külliyesi (Kadırga)
Istanbul, Turkey
Sokullu Mehmet Paşa ve Ismihan Sultan Külliyesi is a mosque complex located in Kadırgalımanı (Kadırga) in Istanbul. It is named after its patrons, the grand vizier Sokullu Mehmed Paşa and his wife Ismihan Sultan, daughter of Selim II. Sinan, chief architect of the Ottoman empire under Kanuni Sultan Süleyman and his successors designed the complex. An inscription plaque in situ dates the completion of the complex to 1571-1572/979 AH. The complex included a mosque, madrasa, convent (tekke), latrines, and a reservoir with street fountains. The foundation inscription also indicates that the site once housed the (collapsed) Byzantine Aya Anastasia Church.


The Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Complex is one of the most refined of Sinan's designs; the site restrictions within the existing urban fabric and the slope of the site are treated innovatively. Following restricted modifications during a 1930s restoration, the mosque remains in a largely original state. The complex is built on an irregularly-shaped site close to the Marmara shore in the Kadırgalımanı neighborhood, southwest of Sultanahmet. The buildings are clustered along the southwestern side of the site, and are oriented toward the southeast in line with the qibla. The northwestern part of the site is mostly open, and is bounded by an enclosure wall that follows two lanes. The site slopes downwards toward the sea, so the northeaster part of the site is the highest, and the southwestern part the lowest. The madrasa, mosque and tekke are situated in line with one another along the southwestern side of the enclosure. The main entrances are along the, northwestern, southwestern, and northeastern walls, and lead onto the madrasa courtyards via corridors. 

The mosque and madrasa

The most direct access to the madrasa is through the entrance on the northwestern side, which faces an avenue. The entrance is through a broad archway that leads to a steep flight of stars ascending to the courtyard, which is built on a platform to account for the slope of the site toward the southwest. This staircase emerges under the domed classroom (described below). Entering the complex through its main gate on the southwestern wall, one ascends a flight of stairs and then walks along an open air corridor passing the west side of the mosque. At the end of this corridor, the path turns at a right angle through an arched portal in a domed gatehouse, which leads onto a corner of the madrasa courtyard. From the northeastern gate, the path to the court is quicker: a gate in the enclosure wall leads onto a small forecourt, which then gives onto a domed gatehouse identical to the one on the southwestern side, leading onto the opposite corner of the madrasa court.

The madrasa courtyard is rectangular and has a dodecagonal fountain covered by a pavilion at its center. The court is bounded on three sides by an arcaded portico leading onto sixteen domed cells and on the fourth by the mosque portico, taller than the other three porticoes. At the center of the portico on the northwest side (opposite the mosque portico), sits a larger domed chamber: the study hall (dershane) of the madrasa. In volume, it is a square box measuring about six and a half meters per side. It is elevated above the rest of the buildings to account for the stairs leading up from the street which emerge on ground level. Two access the classroom, two flights of stairs lead up from under the portico. The toilets of the madrasa are placed behind the western cells. 

The mosque portico is seven bays wide. Each of these seven bays is covered by a domed cupola and supported by pointed arches. The minaret, which has a single balcony, rises from the southeastern corner of the portico. The prayer hall is entered through the deep portal in the middle bay of the portico, and measures about fifteen and a half by nineteen meters. The elevated balcony over its entrance enhances the instant perception of the interior space. The main dome, which measures thirteen meters in diameter, surmounts the central space with an apex of twenty-six meters. The load from the dome is transferred to six "elephant feet," or colossal piers, located on the vertices of a slightly compressed equilateral hexagon by arches flanked by half domes. Unlike in conventional placement, the semi-domes fit into the asymmetrical triangles between the main dome and the walls of the prayer hall, creating an innovative adoption of the structure to a new structural schema. This treatment of the zone of transition is unique to this mosque. These piers are elegantly embedded into the walls of the prayer hall, assisting the unity of the interior space. Four of these six feet, which have rectangular sections, divide the south and east walls into three sections. The western and eastern walls, with the two polygonal feet embedded in their centers, contain the narrow side galleries, where flat roofs are carried by iron structural members. The marble platform for the muezzin, carried over five columns, is placed to the east of the entrance in the prayer hall. The graded structural development of the mosque on the exterior reflects the spatial configuration on the interior, with the graded levels of the muezzin's platform, the side galleries, and the balcony over the entrance. A total of ninety-eight windows light the prayer hall, eighteen of which pierce the drum of the dome, and the stained glass in the windows creates a colorful ambiance.

The mosque is highly ornamented, beginning with the portico frames; the tiled decoration climbs to the pendentives of the dome in the middle of the qibla wall. The marble mihrab, ornamented with polygonal arabesque and muqarnas carvings, is placed between the two tiled frames on the qibla wall. Stained glass is framed with plaster above the mihrab, and the tiled crown of the minbar completes the ornamental scheme. Compared to its contemporaries, this mosque also contains a large number of inscriptions.

The tekke

The tekke is a courtyard building entered from the south. A domed entrance bay leads to the entrance hall, which is comprised of ten bays arranged in rows of five. Excepting the bay attached to the door of the religious ceremony space (tevhidhane), which is surmounted by a mirror vault, all of the bays are topped by domes. The religious ceremonial space is a single domed structure which measures about twelve and a half by seven and a half meters. Centered in a courtyard, this domed structure is surrounded by cells on its west and east sides. Both the eastern and western cell rows, which are, respectively, one and two stories high, are fronted by porticoes. 


Bayrak, M. Orhan. 1994. Türkiye Tarihi Yerler Kilavuzu. Istanbul: Inkilap Kitabevi, 355-356.

Dünden Bugüne Istanbul Ansiklopedisi. 1993-1995. Istanbul: Tarih Vakfi, 32-34.

Egli, Hans G. 1997. Sinan: An Interpretation. Istanbul: Ege Yayinlari, 94-102.

Kuran, Aptullah. 1986. Mimar Sinan. Istanbul: Hürriyet Vakif Yayinlari, 106-112.
Suterazisi Sokagi, Sehit Mehmet Pasa Yokusu, Kadirga, Eminönü, Istanbul, Turkey
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Associated Names
Associated Collections
1567-1572/974-979 AH
Style Periods
Variant Names
Sokullu Mehmed Pasha and Ismihan Sultan Complex
Sokollu Mehmed Pasha and Ismihan Sultan Complex
Building Usages