Like many other historical buildings in Edirne, also Lari Çelebi Mosque is connected with the story of a man who gave the structure his name. In this case, it was the court medic of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror.
Çelebi was an Ottoman title, meaning "gentleman". It originally indicated nobility but was later generalised to well-bred educated men. Therefore, there were many notable people with this surname or title, including Evliya Çelebi, the famous traveller and Lagâri Hasan Çelebi, the 17th-century aviator. Here we will take a closer look at Lari Çelebi who was born in Persia.
He came to Edirne from Persia to work as a palace doctor for the Ottoman court. His notable patients included Sultans Mehmed II and Bayezid II. During the reign of the latter one, Lari Çelebi also worked as a scholar. He must have had his hands full with Sultan Mehmed II as this ruler suffered from gout - an inflammatory form of arthritis. French diplomat, Philippe de Commynes, claimed that the illness of the sultan was caused by his excessive lifestyle and gluttony (fr. grande gourmandise).
Lari Çelebi began to build the mosque but died in 1485, before it was finished. The construction was completed in 1514-1515 by Hamîd Çelebi, the trustee of Bayezid Mosque foundation. His full name was Hâkim Lârî-i Acemî-Hamîd Çelebi whose title Hâkim means a sage or a philosopher.
Besides the so-called imperial mosques, commissioned directly by the Sultans of the Ottoman dynasty, it is the largest mosque in Edirne. The building is surrounded on three sides with stone porticoes. Each of them is supported by four columns. Currently, the space formed by the arches between the portico columns is glazed.
The mosque is covered with two domes. It has a single minaret with one balcony, located in the north-east corner of the building. The entrance to the mosque is decorated with an Arabic inscription from the time of its construction, written in thuluth style. It is a script variety of Islamic calligraphy invented by Ibn Muqlah Shirazi. It this style, the straight angular forms of Kufic style were replaced by curved and oblique lines, making it more decorative.
The prayer hall, very close to the square plan, measures 11.65 to 11.70 meters. The interior of the mosque is very plain. There's a mihrab decorated with a muqarnas motif. On its both sides there are big black calligraphies on the wall, meaning the God (Allah) and the prophet Muhammad. This is a traditional decoration of many mosques, with the inscription of Allah on the right and the inscription for Muhammad on the left, because in Arabic the texts are read from right to left. In this way the first place is for the God and the second one - for his Prophet.
The interior is lit by three rows of windows. Two upper rows consist of six stained glass windows on the mihrab wall. Five of them are rectangular with a pointed arch on the top, and one is round. There are smaller white caligraphies on a black background above the lower row of windows on the side walls of the prayer hall. A wooden minbar - a pulpit in the mosque where the imam stands to deliver sermons - is on the right side of the mihrab.
In 1752 the mosque was severely damaged by an earthquake and subsequently repaired. From this period comes a wooden dome covered with a conical roof, funded by the İplikçi Ahmet Ağa. Formerly the mosque neighboured an old cemetery, but it was destroyed during the construction of the road in 1865. Another renovation of the mosque took place in 1982. The ablution fountain and the school building belonging to the mosque complex have been preserved to our times.
Lari Çelebi Mosque, also known among Edirne inhabitants as Laleli Mosque. It is located on a square demarcated by Saraçlar, Medrese, Eski İstanbul, and Lari Camii streets. Selimiye Mosque is situated 1 km to the north-east.