In fact, it was really the only thing that I knew about Konya when I decided to go there, during my travel across Turkey last year.
Two Ottoman imperial mosques in Konya testify about its relatively special place within the Ottoman Empire. Certainly, other places that I visited such as Izmir, Antalya and Ankara are also rich in Ottoman heritage, but none of them has an imperial mosque. On the other hand, in Bursa and of course in Istanbul, you can see many.
Ottoman sultans and other members of the Ottoman dynasty commissioned monumental mosques in places that they considered to be important.
Konya was important because it was where Ottoman Şehzades (princes) governed. In the earlier days of the Ottoman Empire, there was a practice of sending princes to far away provinces, to rule and gain necessary experience, in case they would one day become the new sultans. You can also find imperial mosques in Trabzon, Manisa, Amasya and Edirne.
Concretely in Konya, Şehzade Mustafa and Şehzade Cem governed. They were both Fatih Sultan Mehmed’s sons but neither of them became a sultan. Mustafa was killed by his brother Bayezid and Cem died in exile.
Suleiman the Magnificent’s son, Şehzade Selim, also governed in Konya and after the death of his father, he became Sultan Selim II.
SELIMIYE MOSQUE (1570)
That day when I arrived to the square that you can see in the photo below, I immediately knew that the big mosque was an Ottoman mosque. But I didn’t know which one it was. I had already visited another imperial mosque in Konya, the Aziziye Mosque, which I will mention later. I certainly didn’t expect to find yet another monumental mosque, so close to the Aziziye Mosque.
I remember thinking that whoever built it, chose a spectacular location next to another impressive construction – the 13th century Mevlana Museum.
So, I approached the entrance and read the inscription – Sultan Selim Mosque. I had to think. I saw the Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque in Istanbul, so could this be another one of his mosques? But then I looked at the year and I tried to remember who ruled in 1570.
The year of construction revealed that this was the Sultan Selim II’s mosque and not his grandfather’s.
Interestingly, Sultan Selim II built three mosques and none of them is in Istanbul. There is this one in Konya, there is one in Karapinar, which is a small town not far from Konya, and there is also one in Edirne.
Perhaps, Sultan Selim II considered that there were already too many imperial mosques in Istanbul. The magnificent Süleymaniye Mosque had been completed only 9 years before Selim took the throne.
But that didn’t stop his wife, Nurbanu Sultan, to construct the magnificent Atik Valide Mosque in Istanbul.
In any case, this mosque is a splendid example of the classical Ottoman architecture.
ŞERAFETTIN MOSQUE (1636)
I mentioned the Şerafettin Mosque in my previous post. That’s because, behind the mosque, there is the Şerafettin Tomb, the Seljuk era mausoleum. Sheikh Şerafettin built the original mosque in the 12th century. But as that old mosque became damaged over time, Ottomans constructed a new one in 1636.
Unfortunately, they were restoring this mosque and with scaffolding both outside and inside, I couldn’t really see much. In other words, I didn’t get the chance to see this religious temple in its full glory when I was there.
KADI HACI ALI EFENDI DARU’L KURRASI
Initially, when I saw this building directly opposite the Şerafettin Mosque, I thought that it was a mausoleum. This small building is actually a madrasa for Koran education.
In Ottoman times, young people went to Koran madrasas to read and understand the Holy Koran. There were 11 such madrasas in Konya in the past, established during the reign of Fatih Sultan Mehmed. This is the only one that remains now.
KAPI MOSQUE (1869)
Without any doubt, the Kapi Mosque is one of the most prominent buildings within the Konya Bazaar. It’s in the middle of the historical area and it’s surrounded by many shops.
Unlike the Selimiye Mosque, which appears slightly isolated in that big square, this mosque is the nucleus of daily activities for many people who come to the historical area for various reasons. Also, it perfectly embellishes the whole area.
The inscription at the entrance shows the construction date as 1658. Indeed, Pir Hüsein Çelebi, one of Mevlana’s great grand-sons constructed it in that year. But, that original mosque was damaged in 1811 and then it was restored by Eşenlerli Köse Mufti.
However, in the fire of the Konya Bazaar in 1867, the mosque burnt to the ground.
So, the mosque that we see today is actually the 19th century construction, built in 1869.
I didn’t know anything about its history when I visited this mosque. I saw the inscription at the entrance and, once inside, nothing within the mosque suggested that it wasn’t the 17th century building.
Of course, I don’t claim to be an expert, but I’ve seen a lot of 16th and 17th century mosques. In terms of its interior decoration, this one certainly looked like that.
Perhaps, the chandeliers in the mosque are not from the 17th century, although such decorative elements could’ve been added at any point, without affecting an overall impression.
Anyway, it’s a beautiful building, splendidly positioned in the centre of the historical Bazaar.
I’ve seen it at different times. There were a lot of people in the mosque at the prayer time, although there were a lot of people around the mosque at all times.
AZIZIYE MOSQUE (1874)
Possibly, the Aziziye Mosque is the most beautiful of all mosques in Konya.
The same as the Kapi Mosque, it’s in the centre of the Konya Bazaar. Together, these two mosques create a magical image.
Additionally, the Aziziye Mosque has the same history as the Kapi Mosque.
The original 17th century mosque, built by Damat Mustafa Pasha, burnt in 1867.
Pertevniyal Valide Sultan, the mother of Sultan Abdülaziz, commissioned this new mosque. The name of the mosque – Aziziye – comes from Abdülaziz.
When you see this mosque, you immediately see that it’s not very old. Although the Kapi Mosque, built at the same time, looks like older Ottoman mosques.
It’s architecture is a mix of the Turkish Baroque and the classical Ottoman style.
Inside, the mosque is pure Turkish Baroque.
It has the same elements as the Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque in Istanbul, constructed at almost the same time as this one.
You can also see a lot of Holy Koran books in this mosque, I assume that they are there for people who want to study.
The Aziziye Mosque doesn’t have a courtyard, it’s not a typical mosque complex. Rather, it’s in a very busy area, surrounded with buildings on all sides. It has two fountains, attached to the lower parts of both minarets. The main photo of this post shows one of them.
It also means that I couldn’t take a clear picture of the whole mosque. But, I think that you can get a very good idea of this magnificent 19th century structure.
THE REST OF OTTOMAN KONYA
TAHIR PASHA MOSQUE
Four mosques that I’ve mentioned are the most important Ottoman heritage in Konya. But you can also see many other smaller Ottoman mosques, such as the Tahir Pasha Mosque in the photo below. However, I had neither time nor capacity to pay attention to absolutely everything.
The most important Seljuk and Ottoman historic buildings, plus the Mevlana Museum, were already a lot to absorb.
But that doesn’t mean that these smaller constructions are of less importance, far from that. It’s just that you need a lot of time to see everything, plus you also need to invest a lot of time and effort to read and learn about it all.
Otherwise, what’s the point in seeing things if we don’t know what they are and what they represent?
Finally, you also have the Konya Bazaar to explore. It’s a maze of streets, lined with very beautiful Ottoman era houses.
The whole area looks good and well kept, they probably fully reconstructed it after the fire in 1876.
The bazaar area is where you can get the real feel of Ottoman Konya and where you can also get an idea of how it used to be back in Ottoman times.
Apart from many shops, there are also some restaurants and coffee shops, where you can sit down and have a rest.
Undoubtedly, the vast Ottoman heritage in Konya is as important as the Seljuk heritage. But, when you add the mystical and spiritual Mevlana Museum, you understand that Konya is a special and unique place.