As Edirne is a mere two hour drive from our doorstep, it seemed a perfect place for a weekend getaway. I've always been curious about Edirne— a Thracian city near the Greek and Bulgarian borders, once capitol of the Ottoman Empire before Constantinople, host to an annual oil-wrestling festival, and famous for its fried liver and fruit-shaped soaps (this last one baffles me).
Being a former capitol of the Ottoman Empire, the city boasts several stunning mosques, the most famous of which was built by Mimar Sinan himself (often referred to as the Michelangelo of the Ottomans): the Selimiye Camii. This, however, is the Üç Şerefeli Camii, a slightly smaller but no less grand mosque built in the 15th Century. What amazes me, is that as the Renaissance was raging in Europe, this was happening here:
While the human body was studied through to its bones and captured in all its glory by Renaissance artists, Muslim artists turned to the beauty of the written word and mathematics. Sentient beings were seldom represented in Islamic Art at the time, as it was believed by some that the depiction of sentient beings was a form of idolatry, though beautifully rendered humans and animals were brought to life in miniature paintings. Elegant calligraphy and dazzling geometric patterns flowed across the surfaces of mosques, while churches in Europe commissioned paintings and frescoes of Biblical figures to adorn their walls.