In the first week of the Summer Abroad Program, participants visited several places and monuments of exceptional archaeological and architectural importance focusing on the study of medieval Anatolian art and architecture.

The course 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.

In the first week of the program, participants visited several places and monuments of exceptional archaeological and architectural importance. In addition, students had the pleasure of listening to two informative lectures: 'Byzantine Heritage of Konya' by Assistant Professor Ilker Mete Mimiroğlu and 'Anatolian Seljuk Palaces and Palace Architecture' by Assistant Professor Valerie Behiery.

After the lecture on the Byzantine heritage of Konya, Professor Mimiroğlu accompanied the group to Sille, a village near Konya whose importance rests in its rich Byzantine heritage. The most important monument is Aya Elenia Museum, also known as Hagios Mikhael or Grand Church, originally built by Helen, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, who stopped in the area while undertaking a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 327 CE. Equally interesting were the remains of churches and monasteries that had been carved right into the rocky cliffs characteristic of this area. One such example is the Hizir Iliyas Church built between 10th and 11th centuries in the Subasi District of Sille.

image Aya Elenia Museum in Sille / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image Hizir Iliyas Church in Sille carved into the rocky cliff / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image Panoramic view of Sille / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

Following the lecture on palace architecture, the group visited Kubadabad Palace, an important archaeological site on the shore of Lake Beyşehir about 100 kilometers west of Konya. The palace established as one of the royal residences of the Seljuk Sultan Ala al-Din Keykubad (r. 1220-1236) was first discovered in 1949 by Zeki Oral, and excavated in the 1960s by the late Professor Katarina Otto-Dorn. Since then, excavations have continued under the direction of the indefatigable archaeological team from Ankara University, Professors Rüçhan and Oluş Arık. The pioneering scholars were both present at the excavation site and so participants had a chance to hear the story of the palace first-hand and ask questions, making the trip so much more valuable and memorable. The palace is perhaps best known for the spectacular polychrome interlocking wall tiles both discovered and originally made on site and which are now housed in the Karatay Museum of Ceramics in Konya.

image Prof.Dr.Rüçhan Arık / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image Prof.Dr.Oluş Arık / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image Kubadabad Palace, an important archaeological site on the shore of Lake Beyşehir / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image Kubadabad Palace, an important archaeological site on the shore of Lake Beyşehir / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image Kubadabad Palace, an important archaeological site on the shore of Lake Beyşehir / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image Kubadabad Palace, an important archaeological site on the shore of Lake Beyşehir / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image Kubadabad Palace, hammam / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

The group also had the opportunity of visiting Beyşehir’s Eşrefoğlu Suleyman Bey Mosque, one of the most beautiful medieval Anatolian mosques, particularly famous for its almost fifty 13th century wooden columns bearing carved muqarnas-like capitals and its interior ‘snow well’. The Eshrefid-period construction built in 1299 is effectively the biggest, best preserved wooden columned and roofed mosque in Turkey. It was built as part of a complex containing, for example, a tomb and a library. The buildings near the mosque like the madrasa and bedesten (bezistan) or market belong to later periods.

image Beyşehir’s Eşrefoğlu Suleyman Bey Mosque / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image 13th century wooden columns in the Eşrefoğlu Suleyman Bey Mosque / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image Eşrefoğlu Suleyman Bey Mosque, a detail from the mihrab / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image Eşrefoğlu Suleyman Bey Mosque, a muqarnas from the entrance door / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

In the first week, the group also went to the Mevlana Museum for which Konya is undoubtedly best known. The site contains the mausoleum of Jalal al-Din Rumi, the world-renowned Sufi mystic, poet and thinker of the 13th century also known simply as Mevlana. The terrain had once been a royal rose garden and when Rumi’s father, a gifted scholar and teacher in his ownright, died in 1231, the Seljuk Sultan Ala al-Din Keyqubad offered Rumi the garden as an appropriate burial place for Baha al-Din Walad. When Mevlana died, he too was buried there: his successor Husamettin Celebi chose to build a mausoleum with a striking turquoise tiled dome to mark the grave of his master. Subsequently, a dervish lodge replete with student cells, a kitchen and a semahane came to be built on the site as did too other mausolea and an Ottoman-era fountain.

image The entrance of the Mevlana Museum / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image A striking turquoise tiled dome marks the grave of Jalal al-Din Rumi / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image The grave of Jalal al-Din Rumi / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image The Mevlana Museum / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image The dome inside the Mevlana Museum / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

The first week of the summer programme was a full one, and a beginning of the discovery of medieval Anatolian Islamic art. Stay tuned; as it continues, we too will continue to provide more news and images of the art treasures of Konya.

See also other articles concerning the Summer Course in Konya:

Art Treasures of Konya

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


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