Kilic Ali Pasa Complex

Kiliç Ali Pasa was the grand admiral grand admiral of the Ottoman Navy between 1571 and 1587. His religious complex in Istanbul is located across the Ottoman canon foundry (Tophane) near Karaköy, and was built by Ottoman court architect Sinan towards the end of his career in 1581. Chosen for its proximity to the Tophane Pier, the site is now located further inland due to infills along the Bosphorus shoreline.
Variant Names Tophane Camii, Kaptan-i Derya Kiliç Ali Pasa Külliyesi, Admiral Kilich Ali Pasha Mosque
Street Address Tophane neighborhood
Location Istanbul, Turkey
Architect/Planner Sinan
Client Grand Admiral Kiliç Ali Pasa
Date 1578 to 1580/81
Style/Period Ottoman
Century 16th
Building Types educational, funerary, religious
Building Usage madrasa, mausoleum, mosque

The larger complex includes a mosque, a madrasa, public baths and a cemetery including the founder's tomb, all aligned with qibla to the east of south. The mosque and cemetery are surrounded by a rectangular precinct wall with iron-grill windows, which was pulled back to its current location during road enlargements in 1956, constricting the mosque's forecourt. Among the five precinct gates, the two along the main boulevard and the side gates to the northeast and southwest lead into the forecourt which is dominated by the double portico of the mosque. The northwest wall, across from the portico, is lined by an arcade with ablution spigots. Additional washing areas are located around the dodecagonal ablution fountain (sadirvan) that occupies the center of the narrow forecourt, protected by a domed kiosk carried on eight pillars. The forecourt is largely shaded with the long eaves of the mosque portico, ablution arcade and the ablution fountain.

The outdoor prayer space of the mosque consists of a raised five-bay portico enveloped by an arcade with shorter columns on three sides, forming a double portico. The inner portico features muqarnas capitals and is covered with domes, while the outer portico has a shed roof and diamond-cut capitals. Iron screens placed between the outer columns separate the double portico from the forecourt, limiting entry to a carved marble doorway inside the central bay. The tall mosque portal is centered on the portico façade and crowned by an inscriptive plaque and a large triangular panel with a mirrored inscription highlighted in gold. Without the portico, the mosque measures thirty one and a half meters by twenty six meters on the exterior.

Inside, the tall nave of the prayer hall is covered by a central dome measuring thirteen meters in diameter, braced by two semi domes of the same radius to the northwest and southeast. Like at the Hagia Sophia, the lateral thrust of the dome is asymmetrically countered with grand arches in the other two directions, requiring the placement of heavy flying buttresses on the exterior. Double-story galleries flank the nave on all sides except for qibla where the shallow mihrab apse projects into the cemetery behind the mosque, covered with a small semi-dome. The vertical loads of the dome are transferred via pendentives onto four massive piers built into the gallery arcades. The nave is illuminated from the top with rings of windows pierced into the base of the dome and the semi-domes, and from clerestory windows inside the tympana of the dome arches. Two tiers of casements bring light and air into the galleries; both tiers are topped by arched windows featuring colored glass set in plaster. A continuous stone cornice envelops the interior at the springing of the dome arches, adding stability to the structure as well as creating a catwalk for maintenance.

On the qibla wall, the rectangular mihrab apse is covered entirely with floral Iznik tiles and inscriptive tile panels. Four plaster windows inside the apse and two others set high on the qibla wall feature intricate colored glass compositions containing floral arabesques and inscriptions. The marble mihrab is adorned simply with a muqarnas hood, while the sides of the marble minbar are carved with arabesques painted in gold. The muezzin's platform (müezzin mahfili) is located across the minbar to the right of the entrance, and is carried over eight marble columns. Interior walls of the galleries and all vaulted surfaces are covered with white plaster and painted in sections with floral arabesques. Inscriptive medallions adorn the apex of tall dome and the pendentives of the central dome. The cut-stone construction of the gallery arcades and the qibla wall are left exposed.

The single minaret of the mosque is attached to the west corner of the prayer hall. Its steps are accessed from one of two symmetrical stairways at either end of the northwest arcade that lead up to the gallery level. All domes and roofs, including the conical crown of the minaret, are covered with lead panels on the exterior.


The madrasa is located to the south of the mosque. It is square in plan and measures about twenty-five meters per side. Its fountain court is surrounded by an arcade with eleven domed bays that give access to eighteen student cells. The large domed classroom iwan projects beyond the northeast wing of the madrasa and faces the cemetery like the mosque apse.

Tomb of Kiliç Ali Pasa

The octagonal stone tomb of the founder is located in the cemetery behind the qibla wall of the mosque. Its dome is carried on four arches that rest on a thick wall to the northeast and two free-standing columns to the southeast. Its portal is set into the northeast wall, topped by the foundation plaque.

Public Baths

The public baths (hamam) of the complex is located outside the precinct walls, to the southwest of the mosque and was completed by 1583. Measuring eighteen meters by thirty one and a half meters, the baths consist of a hot-room preceded by a dressing room of equal size to its northwest. The hexagonal hall of the hot-room is flanked by seven private cells, five of which have domes. The central spaces of the hot-room and the dressing room are covered by domes pierced with lights; the larger dome of the dressing room is fourteen meters in diameter. The baths are no longer in function and are in need of restoration.

The domed sabil of the complex projects onto the street at the northern corner of the precinct walls and is entered from a door inside the mosque courtyard.

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