sultans saw themselves as successors
to the Byzantine
emperors, and in some
ways they continued the tradition
of Byzantine architecture.
Istanbul’s Ayasofya (Hagia
Sophia, the Church of the Divine Wisdom)
was the model on which Ottoman religious
archtecture was built. Great architects
such as Mimar Sinan studied
the thousand-year-old church, learned
its lessons and adapted them to the
requirements of Islamic worship.
the depiction of “creatures
with immortal souls” so
as to avoid any temptation toward idolatry.
This meant that Islamic architects
could not fill their great mosques
with portraits of saints, angels, cherubs
or beasts mythical or actual.
the Muslim masters used geometric
designs, rich materials
such as colored stone, exotic woods,
gold and mother-of-pearl to make
Although Ottoman architects designed
homes, palaces, bridges, arsenals,
drydocks and other important civil
works, the great imperial mosques are
their most impressive and enduring
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