The tomb (türbe) of Selim II (1566-1574) was completed three years after his death in 1574. Its site to the southwest of the Hagia Sophia was prepared during extensive repairs conducted during the sultan's rule when the immediate vicinity of the converted cathedral was cleared of residential structures. The tombs of his son Murad III (1574-1595) and his grandson Mehmed III (1595-1603) were built later at either side of his tomb. In addition to the sarcophagus of Selim II, the tomb houses the graves of forty-four other members of the Ottoman family, including Selim II's wife, five sons and three daughters and twenty-one sons and thirteen daughters of Murad III. It is designed by head-architect Mimar Sinan (1492-1588).
The tomb is oriented parallel to the Hagia Sophia, facing northwest. It has a complex structure assembled from a square outer shell and an octagonal inner shell. From the exterior, the tomb appears as a squat square structure with chamfered corners, covered by an inset dome raised on a multifaceted drum that extends outward to meet the square façade above the entrance. A three-bay portico with a dome at the center and barrel vaults over the side bays precedes the entryway. Inside, the dome sits on eight arches carried on columns that are tied with shorter arches to the exterior wall. Four corner arches of the dome are braced with semi-domes that help carry some of the dome's weight onto the outer shell; they project only slightly from the drum on the exterior. The interior is well-lit with two tiers of windows on the square shell, a third row of windows on the dome's drum and eight windows on the lead-covered dome. Built entirely of cut stone, the tomb is paved with marble panels on the exterior that were carved in situ.
The tomb of Selim II is well known for the sixteenth century Iznik tiles that decorate the interior and the portico façade. There are two famous floral panels on either side of the entrance; the left one was taken out of the country during a restoration in the late nineteenth century and is currently exhibited at the Musée du Louvre. Sections of the calligraphic band between the upper and lower windows on the interior are also missing and were painted in during contemporary restorations. The painted decoration of the interior, with the possible exception of the dome, was redone in the late eighteenth century. Wooden shelving were embedded in the walls used to store precious belongings of the sultan many of which have disappeared before the Ottoman heritage laws were instituted in the early twentieth century. The portico has fine examples of stone latticework and marble carving such as calligraphic panels assembled from polychrome marbles.
Aslanapa, Oktay. Osmanli Devri Mimarisi
. Inkilap Kitabevi: Istanbul, 1986. 501. Dunden bugune Istanbul ansiklopedisi
. Ankara: Kultur Bakanligi ; Istanbul : Tarih Vakfi, 1993-1995, VI, 504.
Goodwin, Godfrey. A History of Ottoman Architecture
. London: Thames and Hudson, 1997.
"Mausoleums of Istanbul." Greater Istanbul Municipality Website. http://www.ibb.gov.tr/en-US/KenteBakis/IstanbulGuide/CemeteriesTurbes/
. [Accessed February 14, 2007]
"Cultural Details of Istanbul: Mausoleums and Graveyards." Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism Website. http://www.perge.gov.tr/EN/BelgeGoster.aspx?
. [Accessed February 14, 2007]and Tourism homepage.