12 November 2009
Dear Family and Friends,
Someone once criticized me for taking too few "people" photos and too many "building" photos. OK. Maybe. OK. But in Edirne, how could I resist, how could I resist the buildings?
The guidebook uses the phrases "an embarrassment of architecture" and "splendid architecture." It's no exaggeration.
I walked from mosque to mosque and market to market, thankful that I decided to come here and thankful that I remembered to recharge the battery in my camera.
The first mosques I encountered were only just "splendid." I circled them, and circled them again before entering the gardens and interiors, circling again and again, and looking up, always looking up.
I wandered and wandered, and then, then, stopped dead in my tracks at the first glimpse of the Selimiye Camii. Beyond "splendid," the Selimiye Mosque is majestic. Again the guidebook: "grand," "elegant," "spectacular," "exquisite."
Just a bit of history:
The Selimiye Mosque (1569-75) was built for Sultan Selim by the great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan (1490-1588) who also built the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul.
A few architectural notes:
"The broad, lofty dome – at 31.3m (102 ft) marginally wider than that of Istanbul's Aya Sofya – is supported by eight unobtrusive pillars, arches and external buttresses, creating a surprising spacious interior. As they only bear a portion of the dome's weight, the walls are sound enough to hold dozens of windows, the light from which brings out the colorful calligraphic decorations on the interior." *
"Part of the Selimyie's striking effect comes from its four 71m (233 ft) high minarets, which Selim fluted to emphasize their height. Each tower also has three balconies." *
What a sight! What a building! I walked around the mosque once more, made some new friends and had a coffee. As evening approached, I walked around again. And yes, I did find Turkish street scenes and people to photograph.
When you travel to Istanbul, please take a side trip to Edirne. Or better yet, travel from Istanbul to Edirne and keep heading west. The Greek and Bulgarian frontiers are only thirty minutes away. Talk about buildings!
* "Turkey." Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd. 2009. pg 169.