Historians have discovered what they believe to be the shrine and mosque where the internal remains of Suleiman the Magnificent were interred in 1566.
A joint Turkish-Hungarian team uncovered structures in southern Hungary where Suleiman’s organs were buried following his death during a Balkans campaign.
The site near Szigetvar, which was under siege by Suleiman’s Ottoman army when he died, includes a “sultan-like structure,” researchers said at a news conference in Budapest.
“Hexagonal structures found during the excavation proves that this site is a sultan-like structure,” Ali Uzay Peker, a Turkish academic from Middle East Technical University’s architecture department, said.
“The mosque and the shrine were built side by side. The fact that a minaret could not be found during the first excavation indicates that this is a shrine. At this stage we can say that we found the site of Suleiman’s shrine.”
Suleiman was the longest reigning sultan of the Ottoman Empire and presided over its golden age for 46 years. As well as military conquests in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, he instituted major legislative reforms and was a keen patron of the arts and technology.
Norbert Pap, who heads the project, said the excavation had been made possible through the support of Turkish development agency TIKA and the Hungarian government.
“Evliya Celebi, who visited the region in 1664, states that a shrine, mosque and Ottoman compound were in the region,” he said, outlining the evidence for naming the site as Suleiman's tomb.
“A Hungarian noble also painted the monuments in the region around the same time. According to a scientific study we conducted based on these two pieces of information, we detected a compound belonging to the Ottoman era as well as the site where Suleiman the Magnificent’s internal organs were buried.”
What is thought to be the sultan's tomb is located in a former Ottoman settlement that was destroyed in the 1680s and rediscovered in 2013.
It is believed Suleiman’s organs were buried in Hungary and his body taken back to his capital, where it is still entombed at the Suleymaniye Mosque, one of Istanbul’s best-known sights.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan said the discovery was “important for us spiritually, just as important as the discovery of other Ottoman monuments in the region.” He said the search for Suleiman’s remains had been going on for the last 120 years and pledged the government’s continued support for the project.