Hürrem Sultan


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Roxalena (Hürrem Sultana)

On the third of Istanbul's seven hills rises the Mosque of Süleyman the Magnificent, the most glorious silhouette above the promontory .It is colossal and imposing, but it also has a capricious charm, reflecting the genius and exuberant spirit of its architect, Sinan. Numerous smaller domes are scattered whimsically around the central dome, like soap bubbles. Four stiletto minarets soar above the skyline.

Inside, the mosque is dark and somber, despite the beautiful windows of jeweled Persian glass and colorful tiles around the mihrab (niche indicating Mecca). Its quiet dimness, its silence and desertion make it seem peaceful, almost ethereal, as is the garden in back, which shelters the mausoleums of Süleyman and his legendary wife Roxalena. A grapevine straggles over the walls of theİr tombs, and a profusİon of blood-red amaranthus, the flower known as ''love lİes bleeding, sprouts out of the earth.

The lovers slumber in their graves, once the most powerful mortals of this city, now sacks of bones. it makes one think of lstanbul's contradictions: the Bosphorus separating two continents, unable to make up its mİnd where its a1legiance lies, caught between wealth and starvation, between the physical and the spiritual, the sacred and profane. The prayer chant from the minaret wafts like smoke over the rooftops of the city , just as it must have done when Roxalena was alive.

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