The Great Mosque of Istanbul Essay

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Hagia Sophia and the great mosques of Istanbul
As a city that has played host to not one but two great empires, Istanbul has inherited a number of historical gems. The most apparent of these gems are the sultanic mosques spread across the city. While numerous in number, each mosque tells a different story through its art and architectural elements. They all share, however, triumphs in construction and architectural planning. Through their minarets, pointed arches, and abundance of luxurious building materials, these mosques exemplify the power of the empires they were born out of. The Blue Mosque and other mosques will be mentioned as well. To best present these mosques this paper will look at the Hagia Sophia as a primary example.
The
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Various sultans, such as Ahmed I and Süleyman I, commissioned these mosques in addition to other social institutions important to Istanbul such as the baths and marketplaces. The construction of these mosques on part of the sultans was done less because of religious conviction, but to solidify their supposed power. What better way to impress visitors from within and outside of the Empire than a grand mosque complex adorned in the finest building materials? The funding for these great complexes came from endowments called vakifs. These vakifs funded the construction of mosques, baths, schools, and essentially all social programs that existed in Istanbul (Boyar and Fleet 129). Vakifs were self sustaining in the sense that they “provided employment, commercial premises and stimulated economic activity” thus saving Istanbul from being a total welfare state (Boyar and Fleet 144). It was from these sources of money that allowed sultans to import precious marble from parts of the empire to be used in the mosques or to hire the most talented architects and the scores of laborers needed. These mosques were built during the Ottoman Empire and definitely showed the wealth of the empire, but it also brings attention to the lengths at which the sultans of the Empire would go to show exhibit their power.
Before being rededicated as a museum, Hagia Sophia served as an…