The Armenian Michelangelo
Posted by Fredsvenn on May 8, 2016
Koca Mi’mâr Sinân Âğâ (“Sinan Agha the Grand Architect”; Modern Turkish Mimar Sinan: “Sinan the Architect”) (c. 1489/1490 – July 17, 1588) was the chief Ottoman architect (Turkish: mimar) and civil engineer for sultans Suleiman the Magnificent, Selim II, and Murad III.
His masterpiece is the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, although his most famous work is the Suleiman Mosque in Istanbul. He headed an extensive governmental department and trained many assistants who, in turn, distinguished themselves, including Sedefkar Mehmed Agha, architect of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque.
He was responsible for the construction of more than 300 major structures and other more modest projects, such as schools. His apprentices would later design the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul, Stari Most in Mostar, and help design the Taj Mahal in the Mughal Empire.
He is considered the greatest architect of the classical period of Ottoman architecture and has been compared to Michelangelo, his contemporary in the West.
Michelangelo and his plans for St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome were well known in Istanbul, since Leonardo da Vinci and he had been invited, in 1502 and 1505 respectively, by the Sublime Porte to submit plans for a bridge spanning the Golden Horn, also known by its modern Turkish name as Haliç, a major urban waterway and the primary inlet of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey.
According to contemporary biographer, Mustafa Sâi Çelebi, Sinan was born in 1489 (c. 1490 according to the Encyclopædia Britannica, 1491 according to the Dictionary of Islamic Architecture and some time between 1494 and 1499, according to the Turkish professor and architect Reha Günay) with the name Joseph.
He was born either an Armenian, Cappadocian Greek, Albanian, or a Christian Turk in a small town called Ağırnas near the city of Kayseri in Anatolia (as stated in an order by Sultan Selim II). According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, Sinan had either Armenian or Greek origin. However, he most plausible was Armenian.