THE GREEN COLUMN
When you visit the Şehzade Mosque, you may notice the green column in the grey walls that surround the garden. This green column was placed at the exact spot where the southern and eastern walls come together. The column looks quite odd, and historians have understood that the architect Sinan wanted to make a statement by placing it in wall. Their research brought the following story to light.
Where is the middle of cities, countries or the world? Everyone has probably asked himself or herself this question at some point. Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent certainly did, and he was curious to know where the center of Istanbul was. He ordered Sinan to find out; through careful calculation he was able to pinpoint the center of the city. In order to mark the spot, Sinan erected a green column at this exact location. Today, the green column is still around, and even though thousands of people pass by it everyday, it never catches somebody’s attention.
TOMB OF SEHZADE MEHMED
Şehzade Mehmed was the first son of Sultan Suleyman by Hurrem Sultan. There’s no doubt that the Sultan was looking at prince Mehmed to be the next great sultan. He was not appointed as a sancak governor until 1542, which indicates Sultan Suleyman wanted him to be nearby. His first assignment as a governor was in Manisa Sancak, the most desirable of all sancaks and the place where he died after only one year.
Nine years earlier Sultan Suleyman again assigned one of his sons, Şehzade Mustafa, as the sancak governor of Manisa. Şehzade Mustafa gained everybody’s respect and became very powerful. When the old sultan became convinced that Mustafa was preparing to revolt against him, he assigned Şehzade Mustafa to be the sancak governor of Amasya. This was sort of a message to Mustafa that he was not favored anymore, as was mentioned before. In the course of events, according to some historians, Sehzade Mehmed then died from smallpox. According to other opinions, he died a natural death. According to yet others, he was murdered under the command of Mahidevran Sultan, who saw him as a huge threat to become sultan instead of her own son, Sehzade Mustafa.
TOMB OF RUSTEM PASHA
A great historical trickster, Rüstem Pasha was one of the most influential figures in Ottoman politics and one of the wealthiest people in the history of Ottoman Empire. As all the important figures in his time, he was educated in the Enderun, the royal school. Because of his talents Rustem Pasha managed to be favored by Sultan Suleyman. He first was appointed governor of Diyarbakır and then Anatolia. Later on, he found himself as the husband of Mihrimah Sultan, the beloved and only daughter of the Sultan Suleyman. He was given the title “Damat”, meaning bridegroom, since he married a princess. Together with his wife Mihrimah Sultan he was the patron of all kinds of trades and he run many charities. He twice served as grand vizier to the Sultan. He was dismissed by Sultan Suleyman, who was in fear of a Janissary rebellion due to questionable circumstances of Şehzade Mustafa’s death. A few years later he got reinstated however. He died on the 10th of July in 1555. It is said that his wife Mihrimah Sultan had a part in this death, however there is no reliable evidence that supports this.
TOMB OF ŞEHZADE MAHMUD
Prince Mahmud was the son of Sultan Mehmed III who was known for having nineteen of his brothers and half-brothers executed to secure his own power. Although he knew his father’s reputation, prince Mahmud still acted as a fool. He was driven, impatiently asking to his father to send him to Anatolia with an army so he could personally eliminate the Celali rebels that his father was struggling to defeat and bring relief to the sultan. His nagging led his father to suspect that prince Mahmud was plotting to seize his throne and according to contemporary sources it was decided to execute him when the prince’s mother asked a Sufi sheikh to tell her son’s fortune. The skeikh’s fortune predicted that Mahmud would succeed to the throne after an unpleasant thing happened to his father. This fortune would never reach the prince’s mother however. Instead, the letter containing the fortune was intercepted and given directly to Sultan Mehmed III. For a sultan who had faced several military revolts and been threatened with deposition because of his son Mahmud’s popularity among the Janissaries, this letter no doubt raised suspicions of treason, particularly at a time when his son was waiting to leave the court for the battlefield. On June 7th of 1603, Mehmed III therefore ordered Prince Mahmud’s execution. It is said that four mutes executed Prince Mahmud in a harem room while Mehmed III waited outside. After his order had been completed, Sultan Mehmed III entered the room in order to make sure that Şehzade Mahmud was really dead. The very same day his funeral was held at the Topkapı Palace and he was buried in the Şehzade complex.
Photo Credits: LWYang