Koca Sinan Pasa Complex

The Koca Sinan Pasa Complex is located on Yeniçeriler Street at Çarsikapi between Çemberlitas and Beyazit Squares. It was built by Koca Sinan Pasa (1520-96), who was appointed grand-vizier five times from 1573 until his death, serving under Selim II, Murad III and Mehmed III. He is known as the 'Conqueror of Yemen' after his suppression of the Yemenite insurgence in 1569 while in office as governor-general (beylerbeyi) in Egypt. In addition to various monuments in Anatolia, the Balkans and Syria, Koca Sinan Pasa is the donor of the Sinan Pasa Mosque in Üsküdar and the Sinan Pasa Kiosk at the Topkapi Palace. The Sinan Pasa Complex in Besiktas, however, is an earlier monument built by Mimar Sinan for Admiral Sinan Pasa (d. 1553). The architect of the complex at Çarsikapi, Mimar Davud Aga (d. 1598), was a student of Mimar Sinan and followed him in office after his death in 1588.
Variant Names Tomb and Fountain of Sinan Pasa, Sinan Pasa Külliyesi, Koca Sinan Pasa Külliyesi, Sinan Pasa Türbesi, Yemen Fatihi Sinan Pasa Külliyesi
Street Address At the intersection of Yeniçeriler and Bileyiciler Streets, Çarsikapi neighborhood of Eminönü District
Location Istanbul, Turkey
Architect/Planner Davud Aga
Client Grandvizier Koca Sinan Pasa
Date 1593
Style/Period Ottoman
Century 16th
Building Types educational, funerary, waterworks
Building Usage madrasa, tomb, sabil
Keywords 777 core monuments

Built in 1593, the complex consists of the tomb of Koca Sinan Pasa, a madrasa and a sabil clustered inside a small and irregular walled-in precinct with grilled windows along its walls. The precinct is entered from two main gates located on Yeniçeriler Street -the continuation of Divanyolu, or the main route of the historic peninsula- to the south and Bileyciler Street, which meets Yeniçeriler Street at a narrow angle to the west. On this wedge-shaped irregular site that slopes down towards the main route, the sabil is placed projecting at the tip facing both streets and the tomb rises immediately behind it. The madrasa and its adjoining classroom occupy higher ground to the east. All the buildings are aligned with Yeniçeriler Street to the south.

The tomb of Koca Sinan Pasa is a sixteen-sided domed structure, preceded by a gable-roofed portico to the west. Entering the precinct from Yeniçeriler Street, the tomb entrance is seen on the left and a small cemetery, created in the eighteenth century, is set on a terrace across from it. A short pathway passes underneath the tomb portico and leads up the stairs to the terrace level. To the left, a gate leads out to Bileyciler Street. To the right, is the madrasa classroom, which is preceded by a three-bay portico facing south.

The domed classroom, used also for prayer (mescit), has a square plan extended with a northern iwan. Passing through its portico, we enter off-center into the madrasa courtyard, which is enveloped by a domed arcade on all sides. The arcade gives access to sixteen madrasa rooms on three sides of the courtyard and has a plain wall with windows to the west. Each room is equipped with shelving niches and a furnace, and has windows looking onto the courtyard and the exterior. An octagonal marble fountain, protected by a pitched roof raised on eight columns, occupies the center of the courtyard, which also has a well and a marble trough. The madrasa extends most of the way to Yeniçeriler Street to the south where more tombstones are placed between the madrasa and precinct walls. It is currently used by the Association for Support of Balkan Turks and the Union of Scientific and Literary Work Owners. The sabil has five grilled windows separated by engaged columns with stalactite capitals. Its windows have a series of inscriptive plaques that praise the donor and give the date of construction. The sabil is accessed from a door to its left along the precinct wall.

The Koca Sinan Pasa complex is a notable example of Ottoman classical architecture: its buildings have precise geometrical proportions and are subtly decorated with polychrome stone and stalactites. The cut stone tomb is crowned by a thick stalactite cornice that curves around the round engaged columns that separate the eight facets expressed in the tomb's interior. Above, the drum of the dome is inset to emphasize the edge of the cornice, which is topped by a series of miniature onion-domes at each column. The interior of the dome is adorned with the Sura of Zumer inscribed in white on a black medallion at the apex, while stalactite capitals of black marble mark the interior corners. Constructed of alternating rows of cut stone and three layers of brick, the madrasa and classroom have diamond-cut capitals on their portico and arcade. The arches of the upper tomb windows and classroom portico have alternating rows of white and red stone.

(1) For a site plan of the Koca Sinan Pasa Complex, see Müller-Weiner, Wolfgang. Bildlexikon zur Topographie Istanbuls, 361.

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