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Süleymaniye Mosque restoration alters site's unique acoustics

Mimar Sinan used 256 stone blocks around the central dome, to create a uniquely efficient acoustic sound system in the mosque.

Source : Agencies | 06 Aug 2012

The unique architecture that ensured an equal distribution of sound throughout Mimar Sinan's Süleymaniye Mosque has been altered by a recent restoration of the mosque, the Radikal daily reported.

The number of loudspeakers used in the mosque has been increased by officials in order to make up for the problem. However, prior to the restoration project, the single voice of an imam was able to reach all the corners of the historical mosque whenever sermons were delivered or the Quran was read, without the usage of additional loudspeakers.

“We have almost solved the problem, but there are still some points in the mosque where the voice of the imam does not reach,” stated Fatih Mufti Emrullah Üzüm in a phone interview with Radikal.

According to the daily's report, the mosque's unique acoustics were impaired due to the use of synthetic and other unsuitable materials used in the restoration. İstanbul Deputy Mufti Abdurrahman Binbir said: “We have a report being prepared by experts. I believe we will solve the problem. I went to the mosque two days ago and realized that sound does not travel down from the dome as I was walking up the stairs.”

Gür Yapı, the company that was given the task of restoring the mosque, has rejected the claims, stating: “We have reports from universities that say there is no problem related to the conveyance of sound in the mosque. Officials did not want the sound system we recommended to be used in the mosque; instead they wanted to use the one they preferred.”

Professor Selçuk Mülayim, the head of the department of art history at Marmara University, explained that the mosque's acoustics may have been thrown off kilter as a result of the usage of unnecessary materials during the restoration. “The main rule of thumb in any restoration is minimal change. We could still have a system that works well if the materials used during the restoration had been chosen carefully,” added Mülayim.

Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan used 256 stone blocks, placed symmetrically around the central dome, to create a uniquely efficient acoustic sound system in the mosque. In addition, he had an extra dome constructed in order to distribute sound equally throughout the mosque.


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