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Selimiye Mosque and it’s Social Complex


Selimiye Mosque and its social complex

Date of inclusion on the World Heritage List: 06/27/2011

List reference: 1366

Criteria: Cultural

A masterpiece of classical Ottoman architecture

Edirne was the capital of the Ottoman Empire before the conquest of Istanbul and is famous for its mosques, elegant domes and minarets, where Selimiye is the main monument in this historic city. The complex, built in the historic center of Edirne, includes this magnificent mosque, two madrasas, a primary school and a covered bazaar. The mosque, which bears the name of the then ruling Sultan Selim II, was built in the 16th century by the architect Mimar Sinan.

UNESCO »Culture» World Heritage Center »The List» World Heritage List

The square mosque with its single large dome and four slender minarets dominates the skyline of the former Ottoman capital Edirne. Sinan, the most famous Ottoman architect of the 16th century, considered the complex, which includes madrasas (Islamic schools), a covered market, a clock house, an outdoor courtyard, and a library, to be his best work. The interior decoration with Iznik tiles from the peak period of their production testifies to an art form that remains unsurpassed in this material. The complex is considered to be the most harmonious expression that Ottoman külliye has ever achieved, a group of buildings built around a mosque and managed as a single facility.

Excellent universal value
Brief synthesis

Commissioned by Selim II, the Selimiye Mosque complex dominates the skyline of Edirne, the former capital of the Ottoman Empire. He is the ultimate architectural expression of the architect Sinan of the Ottoman külliye. The imposing mosque, which rises to its only large dome with four towering slender minarets, a spectacularly decorated interior, a manuscript library, meticulous craftsmanship, brilliant Iznik tiles and a marble courtyard along with the associated educational facilities, the outer courtyard and the covered bazaar – an art form and the pious benevolence of 16th century Imperial Islam. The architectural composition of the Selimiye Mosque complex in its dominant location is the culmination of the great work of Sinan, the most outstanding architect of the Ottoman Empire.

Criterion (i): The Selimiye Mosque Complex in Edirne is a masterpiece of the human creative genius of the architect Sinan, the most famous of all Ottoman architects in the 16th century. The single large dome, which is supported by eight columns, has a diameter of 31.5 on a prayer area of ​​45 x 36 m and dominates the skyline of the city with its four towering minarets. The innovative structural design enabled numerous windows that create an exceptionally lighted interior. The mosque complex was recognized by Sinan himself as his most important architectural work.

Criterion (iv): The Selimiye Mosque with its dome, its spatial concept, its architectural and technological ensemble and its location, which crowns the cityscape, shows a significant stage in human history, the height of the Ottoman Empire. The interior decoration with Iznik tiles from the high phase of their production testifies to a great art form that can never be surpassed in this material. The mosque with its charitable dependencies is the most harmonious expression that the Külliye have ever seen, this peculiar Ottoman complex.


The Selimiye Mosque Complex contains all of the attributes of its outstanding universal value within the property line, is well preserved and does not suffer from the adverse effects of development. Given the importance of the property’s dominant location and landmark status, it is extremely important that all viewing corridors remain protected.


The mosque complex retains its authenticity in terms of shape and design, material and substance. The mosque and arasta retain their authenticity in terms of use and function, spirit and feel. The madrasas have been slightly modified to accommodate suitable new uses as museums.

Protection and management requirements

The property is under National Cultural and Natural Heritage Conservation Law No. 2863 and Religious Foundations Law No. 5737, and all work requires approval from the Regional Conservation Council. The Edirne Municipality is setting up a Coordination and Monitoring Board, made up of representatives from local and central institutions, to oversee the development of the management plan for the Selimiye Mosque Complex. In addition, there will be an advisory body made up of scientists, representatives of NGOs, the Chamber of Architects, local and central government and local citizens to evaluate the management plan and make proposals. The aim of the management plan is to ensure the preservation of the Selimiye Mosque and the transmission of its cultural and functional values ​​to future generations. They include structure preservation, management of development pressures including urban development within the buffer zone, visitor management, visitor services, research and training, data management and administration. An action plan is included with short term (1-3 years) and long term (over 5 years) items. Good coordination between the various bodies responsible for the city maintenance plan (master plan) for the historic core of the city of Edirne and the management plan for the property, including its preservation, maintenance and visitor management, is necessary to ensure effective management of the property Property. Part of this should be the documentation of the traditional systems for maintaining and managing property.

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