The development of Ottoman architecture can be divided into several periods, including the most contoversal Baroque period, when artistic ideas from Europe were slowly starting to penetrate the Ottoman art. This style includes the entire 18th century, although later in the 19th century buildings bear a strong stamp of the West as well. Baroque period was preceded by a classic style in which the Mimar Sinan reached his peak in the Ottoman architecture. The Baroque period is usually interpreted as an artistic decline. However, this artistic crisis coincides with a political crisis of empire which after several centuries of the spreading on three continents was now forced to defend itself or even lose the territory. In the 18th century there was no more big sponsorships, even Sultan’s mosques were smaller, although in this period they built some of the very valuable buildings.
The construction of the Nuru Osmaniye mosque begun in the perod of Sultan Mahmut l in 1748. However, he soon died, and his place as the sultan was replaced by the sultan’s brother, Osman III and he ruled from 1754-1757. The Mosque was finally completed in 1755 and got the name dedicated to the new Sultan, Nuru Osmaniye (Osman’s Light). An interesting thing is that both of the sultans should be buried within the mosque complex. However, both were buried beside Yeni Valide mosque, so there is no sultan’s grave next to Nuru Osmaniye mosque.
Nuru Osmaniye mosque is the building with a centralized area, with a dome diameter of 24,75 meters. The overall impression is still on the trail of the classical contribution, nevertheless, many details have no longer anything to do with this period. The Mosque’s courtyard is very interesting, which is no longer square but oval, and corresponds to the baroque idea of dynamic forms. Something like that could not be imagined in the past. The interior continues the classical Ottoman spirit, but many details are European, especially as we can see from the design, columns with capitals, then arches that are no longer pointed but rounded, and the introduction of the access stairs. The mihrab is more like a niche from Baroque buildings, while the stalactite decor was completely lost, even at the entrance portal. The mosque is framed with galleries on three sides of walls. Mihrab wall is touching two lodges, of which the left belonged to Sultan.
However, in all this new decor we have one of the most important parts of Ottoman art, a huge carved calligraphic frieze, which covers an area from the right gallery, passing through all the walls, to the left gallery. The author is a famous calligrapher Mustafa Rakim, and the frieze is inscribed in jeli thuluth style of script. This calligraphic piece is unique in its size and beauty, and also very well integrated into the decor of the mosque.
Photo by Amar Cudic (http://www.level.ba)