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.
Completed in 1220, the Alaeddin Camii is the oldest known Seljuk mosque in Turkey. It is built into the hill that forms the citadel of Konya; its pointed arch and round domes atop two tombs are prominent features in Konya's cityscape. With the exception of Izzeddin Keykawus, all of the Seljuk sultans after 1156 are interred in the complex.
Its oblong, hypostyle plan is influenced by Arabic classical architecture, but it is very much a Seljuk building. In fact, it is an agglomeration of two major rebuilding campaigns undertaken by both Sultan Izzeddin Keykawus and Sultan Alaeddin Keykawus.
The entrance portal is decorated in alternating grey and white marble and intricately interlocking voussiours. The building itself is made of a variety of stone types, many of them reused from Byzantine buildings.
Once inside the building the hall is divided into bays and aisles by 42 columns reused from antique buildings. These support the vaulted stone ceiling. The ebony minbar dates to 1155 and is probably the only element surviving from the earliest mosque. The mihrab is tiled in three shades of blue, and was probably built by Kerimeddin Erdim Shah, who built the dome.
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Redford, Scott. "The Alaeddin mosque in Konya reconsidered." Artibus Asiae 51 1-2 (1991): 54-74.
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. Köln, Germany: Taschen, 1998.