One of the major aspects of this year's Summer Abroad Islamic art history course was visiting the famous Seljuk mosques in Konya. The Anatolian city, effectively renowned for its Seljuk architecture, is rich with mosques, madrasas, mausolea, khaniqahs, as well as with large and spacious caravanserais in its vicinity.

Necmettin Erbakan University’s summer course 'Art Treasures of Konya: Medieval Islamic Art and Architecture' started on July 21st and will run until August 15th, 2015. This unique cultural programme focuses on the study of medieval Anatolian art and architecture. Experts and students from Bosnia, Egypt, Turkey and the United States gathered at Necmettin Erbakan University in Konya to learn and participate in lectures and workshops prepared by professors from the university’s department of Islamic art history.

The focus of last Tuesday’s field trip were the mosques that attract international attention with their diversity and rich history and constitute architectural landmarks of the former Seljuk capital. Course participants were able to learn about the plans, decorative programmes, patrons and sometimes architects of the major mosques and discuss their every detail with the accompanying, veteran professors Dr. Ahmet Cayci and Dr. Zekeriya Simsir.

image Prof.Dr. Ahmet Cayci / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image Prof.Dr. Zekeriya Simsir / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

The Alaeddin Mosque

The most famous mosque is the Alaeddin Mosque situated in the city center on the Alaeddin hill. Its construction was begun by Sultan Mesud I (r. 1116-1156), although the building was enlarged and modified by three succeeding sultans, explaining why it is named after Alaeddin Keykubad I (r. 1220-1237). The Alaeddin Mosque complex, once adjacent to the Seljuk palace, contains a courtyard, two monumental tomb towers (one unfinished), a large hypostyle prayer hall, a mihrab domed area, and the earlier irregularly-shaped older column and pier-supported enclosed area to the west of the mihrab. Two salient features of the mosque are the characteristically Seljuk ceramic mosaic mihrab made by the tile maker Karim al-Din Erdim Shah and the originally preserved minbar made by Mengi Birtial-Haji al-Ahlati, a masterpiece of Seljuk woodcarving art combining geometric and vegetal arabesques and the oldest dated and signed artifact from the Anatalian Seljuk period.

image The Alaeddin Mosque Complex is currently under restoration / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image The dome in the Alaeddin Mosque / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image The interior of the Alaeddin Mosque / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

The Iplikci Mosque

The Iplikci Mosque is located in the city center, near the Alaeddin Mosque. Originally built in 1201 for the Seljuk vizier Shams al-Din Altun Aba, it underwent a series of renovations in the Karamanid, Ottoman and modern periods. For example, the monumental mihrab dates from the Ottoman period —probably from the 16th century— although lifting the carpet on each side of the mihrab reveals the remains of the original Seljuk one with decorative tiles. The Iplikci Mosque’s architect was Abu al-Fazi Abd al-Jabbar from Tabriz, revealing the important presence of Persian craftsmen in medieval Anatolia. Rumi’s father, a teacher in his own right, taught in the mosque’s medrese unfortunately no longer existent.

image The Iplikci Mosque / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image The interior of the Iplikci Mosque with Ottoman mihrab / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

The Tash or ‘Stone’ Mosque

A special jewel of stonemason skills is the Tash or ‘Stone’ Mosque built in 1215. Although a small building with one room and a dome, it contains elements of monumental constructions such as large stone blocks that one would expect to find installed in much larger mosques. The portal has a deep niche decorated with muqarnas. Between it and the prayer space is a vestibule with a barrel vault and a monumental unfinished stone portal giving ontoto a very harmoniously proportioned prayer space. The building, despite its modest size and simplicity, is very well designed and leaves a remarkable impression on the viewer.

image The Tash Mosque, on the left: the stone portal; on the right: detail from the portal / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

The Sahip Ata Mosque

We found the Sahip Ata Mosque complex especially interesting. Built by the architect Keluk bin Abdullah on the order of the Seljuk vizier Sahip Ata Fakhr al-Din Ali between 1258 and 1283, the mosque has one of the most monumental and beautiful portals in Seljuk architecture whose carved stonework and design reflect the more ornate style of the second half of the 13th century. Originally possessing two minarets, only the minaret on the right side of the portal has survived until today. From the original prayer hall only the ceramic mosaic mihrab remains and it too forms one of the most successful examples of Seljuk art.

image The Sahip Ata Mosque, on the left: the portal; on the right: the ceramic mosaic mihrab / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

The Sahip Ata Khaniqah

Near the Sahip Ata Mosque is the Sahip Ata Khaniqah (dervish school) that represents an extraordinary example of this type of architecture. With its spatial arrangement consisting of a central covered area with a dome, spaces for lectures and students, a mosque and a tomb, this khaniqah is very similar to Konya’s better known Ince Minare and Karatay madrasas.

image The Sahip Ata Khaniqah, on the left: the portal; on the right: the interior of the Khaniqah / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image The Sahip Ata Khanikah, detail from the tomb's ceiling / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

See also other articles concerning the Summer Course in Konya:

Medieval Islamic Art and Architecture - Week 1

Konya: An Open-Air Museum of Islamic Art and Architecture


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