Perhaps the grandest, most superb example of Ottoman architecture in Istanbul, is Süleymaniye, the Mosque Complex of Süleyman the Magnificent. It stands as tribute not only to the greatest ruler of the Ottoman Empire, but also to its finest architect, Sinan. Built between 1550 and 1557, this second largest mosque in Istanbul remains the crown jewel of Sinan's lifelong service to Süleyman.
Dominating the third hill of old Istanbul, Süleymaniye is strikingly graceful and less ornate than many other imperial mosques, thus lending itself to meditation and quiet reflection. As in all great mosques, the prayer hall is preceded by a vast outer courtyard. Four minarets rise from the corners of the courtyard; they are said to signify Süleyman's position as the fourth Ottoman ruler of Istanbul. The ten balconies of the minarets indicate he was the tenth sultan to reign since Osman founded the dynasty.
The prayer hall is the most awesome and serene in Istanbul, constructed from pale marble so finely fashioned, mortar was only needed as a lubricant. This scrupulous attention to masonry along with simplicity of decoration create a domed interior of such harmony it has a sculpted quality.
Adjoining the mosque were theological schools, a school of medicine, a soup kitchen and hospice for the poor, a Turkish bath, and a caravanserai.
In the back garden are the tombs of Süleyman and his wife, the Russian Roxelana. They would surely be pleased that the world continues to appreciate Sinan's grand design.