Sahn-ı Seman Medrese

Sahn-ı Seman Medrese or Semâniyye (meaning: eight courtyards) is a 15th-century Ottoman Medrese complex in Istanbul, Turkey, which was part of the Fatih Mosque.[1] It was one of the highest educational facilities of various sciences such as theology, law, medicine, astronomy, physics and mathematics, and was founded by the astronomer Ali Qushji who was invited by the Ottoman sultan Fatih Sultan Mehmed to his court in Istanbul.


The medrese are visible next to the garden of the Fatih mosque.
The medrese are visible next to the garden of the Fatih mosque (large building in the middle) as the square courtyard buildings covered by dozens of small domes.

The medrese complex consisting of eight large and eight smaller (tetimme) medrese were built by order of Mehmed II and completed in 1470. Till the construction of the medreses of the Suleymaniye complex (Külliye) the Sahn-ı Seman medreses were considered as the most prestigious schools in the Ottoman Empire.[1] They were a very large Islamic theological complex, grander in scale and organisation then earlier Ottoman medreses, constructed in the newly conquered (1453) former Byzantine capital city of Constantinople which became the new Ottoman capital. The goal of the complex was to make the city a center of Islamic science.

The buildings are part of the symmetrical Fatih complex (300 by 300 metres (980 ft × 980 ft)) and each four of them are located at the northern and southern sides of the Fatih Mosque. Each medrese has a square plan with 19 student rooms and consist of a colonnaded courtyard surrounded by the student cells, each room is covered by a small dome and has a chimney, one large domed room was the "dershane" (classroom). Each medrese has next to it a smaller medrese consisting of eight student cells whose students received lower education, when they advanced they were given a room of the Sahn-ı Seman medrese. Each room was occupied by one or two students. At the eastern side of the complex there is a hospital (dârüşşifâ) and a lunatic asylum (tabhâne) who have a similar architecture as the medrese.

The Sahn-i Seman complex has in total 216 student rooms, 152 in the eight large and 64 in the eight smaller medrese. If each would be occupied by two, total students would be 432.

This medrese complex can be compared to a kind of university of its time. With hundreds of Muslim students studying various sciences such as theology, law, medicine, and the rest of the traditional Islamic sciences. The students (called Suhte or Talebe) trained for scholarship and also for a career in the Ottoman administration, graduates could become medrese teachers themselves or Kadı (judge). The students were lectured by eight teachers (müderris) who had a daily salary of 50 Akche until the reign of Bayezid II.

Approximately 40 Akche were considered to be equal to a golden Ducat at that time. During their study, which took several years, the students were given free housing (rooms) and daily free meals at the Imaret (public charity kitchen) of the Fatih complex.

There were eight stages during the education, the students of the first seven ranks were called suhte or softa while the highest rank was called by the honorable name of danışman (learned man).

The medrese complex was in use till 1924 when they were closed. In 1924 the new secular republic of Turkey (independence in 1923) in an effort to reduce Islamic education, approved the law of Tevhid-i Tedrisat which compelled the closing of all medreses in Turkey. Today the medrese are in a dilapidated state, four of the tetimme medrese have been demolished after World War II to make way for a new road.


  1. ^ a b Somel, Selcuk Aksin (2010). The A to Z of the Ottoman Empire. Scarecrow Press. p. 89. ISBN 9781461731764.
  • Online information [1]