Though Konya's architectural heritage is most widely associated with its development during the Seljuk Empire, excavations in the city center have suggested that the site may have been inhabited since the 8th century BCE. From its prehistoric origins through the Byzantine Empire, Konya was the site shifting power, occupied by the Hittites, Phrygians, Lydians and Persians, and Greeks, before finally being passed to the Seljuks, who made it their capital in the 12th century.
The city's first walls are projected to have been built as early as 1214/611 AH, around a citadel. By 1221, Sultan Keykubad I had ordered the construction of towers at the citadel's main gates. Though the citadel walls no longer exist, they were still standing in the nineteenth century, when travelers recorded them in detail. Charles Sexier, who visited Konya in the 1860's, measured the remains. Its walls had one hundred and eight towers in Texier's day (of an original one hundred and forty four), spaced along the wall every 14 meters and measuring 10 by 8 meters. The towers and walls were decorated with Seljuk sculpture as well as carvings from earlier Greek and Byzantine empires. Many of these are now in Konya's museum. Sites within the citadel's domain, include the Alaeddin Mosque and the palace of the Seljuk Sultans, the Seljuk Kiosk.
Among the prominent Seljuk architecture remaining are several mosques, including the Mosque of Haci Ferruh (1215), the Sirçali Camii (c. 13th century) and the Sahib Ata Masjid, and tombs, like the Gömeç Hatun Türbesi.
Under Ottoman rule, the city lost much of the political importance it had maintained under the Seljuks and adopted a new architectural aesthetic. The Selimiye Camii represents the introduction of a typical Ottoman provincial mosque construction into the religious architectural landscape of Konya, and the Serafettin Camii, constructed with a typical Istanbul-style plan, was built atop a Seljuk mosque in the late 16th-century.
The Ince Minareli Madrasa takes its name from what was once its extremely tall minaret, currently reduced to only the lower portion. Much of the minaret collapsed in the early twentieth century. The lowermost portion of the minaret is square and built of stone, which gives way to cylindrical brick, which must have formed the bulk of its height. The brick was once covered in green tile.
The minaret sits slightly removed from the monumental portal to the madrasa. This entrance is testament to the skill of Seljuk stoneworkers: an inscription complete with floral and natural motifs is intertwined up the entire height of the façade. Further stonework in relief shows knots and other geometric decoration.
Ertug, Ahmet. The Seljuks: a journey through Anatolian architecture, 219. Istanbul: Ahmet Ertug, 1991.
Rice, Tamara Talbot. The Seljuks in Asia Minor, 280. New York: Praeger, 1961.
Stierlin, Henri, and Anne Stierlin. Turkey, from the Selçuks to the Ottomans, 240. Köln, Germany: Taschen, 1998.