Although the exact year of his birth is still disputed, the brilliance of Mimar Sinan, which translates as Sinan the architect, is not. Fathered by a stonemason, Mimar Sinan became a military engineer in the Ottoman Empire where he rose through the ranks to become first an officer and finally a commander in the Janissary, the Sultan’s private guard. He was given the honorific title of ağa, or agha as it is known in English, meaning chief, master or lord. While on campaigns with the Janissaries he refined his architectural and engineering skills, becoming expert at constructing fortifications, roads, bridges and aqueducts. At about the age of fifty, he was appointed to the position of chief royal architect. In this capacity he produced many of the projects for which he is still famous today, such as his masterpiece the Selimiye mosque in Edirne. In the course of his life Mimar Sinan was responsible for the construction of more than 300 major structures as well as other less well known buildings, including schools. His apprentices went on to design many famous buildings such as the Sultanahmet Mosque in Istanbul, and the Stari Most in Mostar.
The minber (pulpit) in Çinli Camii, Üsküdar, 2012
Behind Rustem Paşa Camii, Eminönü in 2007
Süleymaniye Camii, Fatih, 2007
The Şardıvan (ritual ablutions area) at Eyüp Sultan Camii, Eyüp 2012
Women at Eyüp Sultan Camii, Eyüp 2003
For more on the great mosques of Istanbul by Mimar Sinan I can recommend Istanbul Revealed: Sinan’s Mosques.