Mimar Hayreddin (15th -16th century):
Mimar Hayreddin is the architect who built Sultan Bayezid II’s (1481-1512) complex in Edirne. His name is mentioned in the Bursa Pilinç Hanı as a repairer (meremmetçi). It is also written in a document dated 1511 that he was the Chief Canal Planner (baş suyolcu). Hayreddin was a precursor of the tradition of Ottoman Classic Architecture. It is believed that he was a master of Mimar Sinan.
Yakubşah bin İslamşah (15th -16th century):
The name of Yakubşah bin İslamşah was frequently mentioned in documents between 1503 and 1515, among the architects who were rewarded by Sultan Beyazid II. Yakubşah built the Beyazid Madrasah. His son, Hüdaverdi, was also known as an architect. Yakubşah had two assistants: Ali bin Abdullah and Yusuf bin Papas, who were from Devşirme.
Davud Ağa (?-1598):
Davud Ağa was a pupil of Mimar Sinan. After Sinan’s death, Davud Ağa became the Chief Architect. When Sinan was the Chief Architect, Davud Ağa worked as the minister of waterways, and repaired canals and drains in Istanbul. He renovated the Topkapı Palace and its waterways. Davud Ağa participated in the Iran Campaign in 1593. After returning to Istanbul, he worked on renovations of the Holy Room (Hasoda) and hamams in the Topkapı Palace. Davud Ağa built Mehmed Ağa Mosque and Mehmed Ağa Hamam under the supervision of Mimar Sinan. To build large mosques, Davud Ağa used variations of plans of octagons and hexagons like Sinan. Davud Ağa became the Imperial Chief Architect (Hassa Mimarbaşı) in 1588. He built pavilions such as Sinan Paşa Köşkü and Sepetçiler Kasrı in the Topkapı Palace, as well as several mosques, including the Mehmed Paşa, Cerrahpaşa and Yeni Mosques. Among his important works are: Sepetçiler Kasrı, İncili Köşk, the Tomb of Sultan Murad III in the Sultanahmet Complex, the tomb of Koca Sinan Paşa, the tomb of Siyavuş Paşa, the tomb of Defterdar Mehmed Paşa, Selimiye Arastası in Edirne, Sıbyan mektebi, Koca Sinan Paşa Complex, Gazanfer Ağa Madrasah and its complex. In 1598, Davud Ağa died from the plague, one month after he started the construction of the Yeni Mosque.
Dalgıç Ahmed Ağa (?-1608):
Dalgıç Ahmed Ağa was appointed to the post of Chief Archiect after the death of Davud Ağa. He continued serving until 1606. He served as a tommy (Serdengeçti) and sergeant (Dergah-ı Ali Çavuşu) in the Ottoman Army. He went to Erzurum and Damascus with the title of Paşa, and to Aleppo under the Ottoman Syria. He served as a Silistre marquis (Sancak Beyliği) when Davud Ağa was the Chief Architect. Ahmed Ağa was charged to put down the revolt of Kalenderoğlu. As a Minister of Waterways, Dalgıç Ahmed Ağa built canals in Istanbul and renovated the Topkapı Palace. He built Baruthane and Arslanhane in Kağıthane, Istanbul. He continued the construction of the Yeni Mosque between 1599 and 1603, which was started by Davud Ağa. Ahmed Ağa also completed the Tomb of Murad III. In addition, he was a craftsman of mother-of-pearl inlay, like Sedefkâr Mehmed Ağa. The door decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay in the Tomb of Murad III. is famous as Ahmed Ağas’ work. Ahmed Ağa built the Tomb of Sultan Mehmed III. Dalgıç Ahmed Ağa died in a war in 1608.
Sedefkâr Mehmed Ağa (?-1622/23)
Sadefkâr Mehmed Ağa is renowned as the architect who built the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the “Blue Mosque”) in Istanbul. According to the biographer Cafer Effendi, he was believed to be Albanian and brought from Rumeli to Istanbul in 1562. During the last period of the reign of Kanuni Sultan Süleyman I (1520-1566), Mehmed served as a cadet (Acemi Oğlan) for five years, and began working as a garden keeper at the tomb of Sultan Süleyman. During his service, Mehmed audited engineering classes. Getting permission from his teachers, he started to join classes and studied architecture with Mimar Sinan, Mimar Davud, and Mimar Dalgıç Ahmed Ağa for 20 years. He also worked in mother-of-pearl inlay with Halife Üstad Muhammed and became a specialist (Sedefkâr). Mehmed was a pupil of the architect Sinan, becoming his First Assistant in charge of the office in the absence of Sinan. In January 1586, he was appointed to complete the Muradiye Mosque in Manisa, a construction project started by his master. Mimar Sinan advised Mehmed to present a reading desk inlaid with mother-of-pearl to Sultan Murad III (1546-1595). Mehmed was given the position of gate-keeper in the Topkapı Palace.
In 1590, Mehmed was appointed to be a Harem guard (Kulle Sofisi / Harem Muhafızı) and escorted a criminal to Egypt, then visited Hicaz, Palestine and Syria. After coming back to Istanbul, he was sent to inspect cities and castles in the Balkans, by order of the Sultan. He had opportunities to visit Selanik, Albania, Malta, Spain, Bosnia, Frengistan, Budin, Erdel, Eflak, Boğdan, Kırım, Kefe, Silistre, Niğbolu, Semendire and Belgrade. Mehmed was promoted to Chief Bailiff (Muhzırbaşılık) of Istanbul in 1591. In the same year, he began serving Hüsrev Paşa as a lieutenant governor (Müsellim) of Diyarbakır and an inspector of works. After returning to Istanbul as a chamberlain (Kapu Kethüdası), he was sent to Damascus as a lieutenant governor of Hüsrev Paşa. In 1597, Mehmed returned to Istanbul and was appointed to a Master of the Waterways by Sultan Mehmed III, and worked in this position for 8 years. Mehmed was succeeded as a royal architect by Dalgıç Ahmed Ağa and became the Chief Imperial Architect (Hassa Mimarbaşı) in 1606. Sultan Ahmed I (1603-1617) ordered him to build the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. He completed it between 1609 and 1616. Mehmed Ağa had a book on architecture theory written for him by Cafer Efendi. In this book, he explained his methods of work and the architectural training of the period. Mehmed Ağa built 12 major and small mosques (mescit), eight tombs, two madrasahs, two hamams, three palaces and kiosks, one bridge, more than 200 palace and mosque fountains, 11 public fountains (sebil) and one caravanserai. After the death of Mehmed Ağa in 1622/ 23, Kasım Ağa was appointed as the Chief Imperial Architect.
Kasım Ağa (1570-1660):
Kasım Ağa is believed to be Albanian. He built Çinili Complex in Üsküdar, which is famous for its tiles. He enlarged Sepetçiler Kasrı, which was built by Davud Ağa. Kasım Ağa was discharged and killed in an atmosphere of intrigue in the Topkapı Palace.
Mehmed Tahir Ağa (18th century):
Mehmed Tahir Ağa served as the Chief Architect during the reign of Sultan Mustafa III. (1757-1774) and Abdülhamid I. (1774-1789). He renovated Fatih Mosque and built Laleli Mosque in the name of Sultan Mustafa III. Mehmed Tahir Ağa built Hamidiyye Complex in Bahçekapı for Sultan Abdülhamid I.
Some selected examples (please click on pictures to enlarge):