Captain-at-Arms Kılıç Ali Pasha Mosque 1580

Güldemet Gültekin
4 minutes

Our first venue is Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque, which arouses curiosity with its stories and impresses with its architecture. Although it was the first mosque to be built by filling the sea in the years it was built, it has been overshadowed by modern construction. For this reason, we wanted to bring the mosque and the stories it contains to light.

Born in Italy, Kılıç Ali Pasha’s real name was Giovan Dionigi Galeni. Historians have called him Occhiali. According to legend, Kılıç Ali Pasha was kidnapped by Algerian pirates on his way to Naples to become a priest, and after working for them for a long time, he became a Muslim and took the name Ali.

In 1548, he crossed paths with Turgut Reis. After long campaigns, he came to Istanbul in 1551, worked for the navy between 1571 and 1587, achieved great successes and for this reason he was given the title of captain-ı deryâ.

After his services on behalf of the state, he wanted to crown his service with a permanent work, and the sultan of the time, Sultan III. He presents this request to Murat. Accepting Kılıç Ali Pasha’s request in a humorous way, Kılıç Ali Pasha III. Murat said, “It is not befitting for a captain like you to build a mosque on land, build your mosque on the sea.” Taking this as an order, Kılıç Ali Pasha knocked on the door of Koca Sinan, who had revitalized an era with his works, to start preparations. Just as the agreement is reached and preparations are about to begin, news from the sultan arrives. He told him that he had a good time and that he could build the mosque wherever he wanted. However, Kılıç Ali Pasha showed his respect for the Sultan and his values by saying, “Once a word comes out of the Sultan’s mouth, it is impossible not to keep it.”

The plan of the mosque, which also has a madrasah and a bathhouse, was designed as a small Hagia Sophia. When you visit, the detail that many people miss is the silhouette of the Hagia Sophia Mosque, which is visible in the arches and under the arches at the entrance.

There is an interesting incident that is narrated; while the construction of the mosque was in progress, a soldier who was in the Crusader Navy at the time was captured by Kılıç Ali Pasha. This soldier, wounded in the arm, is bought as a slave. This soldier, who stayed in Istanbul for a while and worked on the construction of a mosque, was Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, the author of Don Quixote, a famous name in world literature. It is even said that Kılıç Ali Pasha gave life to the character in the novel.

In Ottoman civilization, we see more upper balconies reserved for women. These balconies were built based on the Hadith of our Prophet “Paradise is under the feet of mothers” and women were kept on top. This mosque represents one of the best examples of this understanding with its large and bright balcony.

Apart from the balcony, the magnificent embroidery on the walls and especially on the edge of the pulpit, which shows the opening from unity to fraction in Islamic art, and the Surah of Conquest in the shape of a ship on the mihrab, which is dedicated to Kılıç Ali Pasha being a captain- deryâ, are eye-catching.

At the main entrance of the mosque and on both sides of the mihrab, you will notice a system that is still in operation today. Mîmar Sinan used this system in order to relieve the hearts of the congregation who would not want to enter the mosque because it was located on the sea. The feature of the system, which was created by mounting marble cylinders on both sides of the entrance door, is that as long as it rotates, it signals that everything is in order in the mosque. However, if there is a slippage, it will become clear that these cylinders will not work and therefore precautions must be taken. The admirable thing about Koca Sinan is that this system still works like clockwork. Don’t forget to check when entering the mosque!

In 1587, Kılıç Ali Pasha, who died in 1587, was buried in a mausoleum in the hazîre on the qibla side of the mosque. The tombstone of Ateş Mehmet Pasha, who was martyred during the naval battles, is designed in the form of a broken mast and sailboat, reflecting the elegance of the stonemasonry of the period.

I would like this magnificent mosque to take you on a journey through history and I would like you to breathe in the scent of the 300-year-old linden tree in its garden.

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