Wooden Roofed and Wooden Columned Mosques in Anatolia
Permanent Delegation of Turkey to UNESCO
Konya Province (Eşrefoğlu Mosque), Kastamonu Province (Mahmut Bey Mosque), Eskişehir Province (Sivrihisar Great Mosque), Afyonkarahisar Province (Afyon Great Mosque), Ankara Province (Arslanhane Mosque)
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Wood is a material that has been used in Anatolian architecture for at least 10,000 years. When the Seljuks arrived in Anatolia in the late 11th century, they set about constructing mosques with wooden columns and roofs like those of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. In museums of Samarkand and Tashkent, some wooden column headings wooden roofed mosques from 10th and 11th centuries are exhibited.Wooden roofed and wooden columned mosques in Anatolia, which were built in 13th century, are composing a specific building type in Anatolian-Turkish architecture. Architectural design of these buildings represents of Middle Asia tent features and 11th-12th centuries wooden columned mosques features in Turkistan.
Wooden roofed and wooden columned mosques concentrate in Konya, Ankara and Kastamonu from Anatolian Seljuks period and Beyliks period. Building tradition of wooden roofed and wooden columned mosques continued until the beginning of 20th century in the remote regions from the center in the Ottoman period.
Esrefoglu Mosque located 100 meters north of Beysehir Lake, in the Esrefoglu Neighborhood. The building size is 31,80 x 46,55 meters. Esrefoglu Mosque was constructed in a rich cultural environment as a complex with a tomb, caravanserai and a Turkish bath. The buildings around the mosque like madrasah and badastan belong to the later periods. Esrefoglu Mosque was built in 1297, by Emir Suleyman Bey. This date was clearly mentioned in the inscription panel on the inner door, ornamented with tiles.
Building is located along the north-south axis. North and east corner don't make a right angle. The edge was cut to constitute a fifth façade. The portal has 7,10 meters width, 10,10 meters height. The composition of the portal maintains the Seldjukid tradition. At the right of the portal, a minaret was erected that was well fitted to the façade. Harim, the inner space of the mosque, was composed by seven vertical naves to the mihrap wall separated by wooden beams. The middle nave is larger than the others and there is a window on the roof which is called Aydinlik Feneri. (Lantern) This element was used to give light to the inner space and on winters collect the snow and provide the humidity which wooden parts need. In south, in front of the mihrap wall a kargir dome was placed which is a Turkish architectural tradition.
Inner door to the harim and mihrap surfaces were plated by tile mosaics that are prominent examples of their era and maintain the Seldjukid Konya tradition. The composition on the tile mosaics consists of geometrical and botanical adornments, stalactites, rosettes and epigraphy. Minber that placed at the right of mihrap, was made of walnut tree wood and by a technique called Kündekari which is attaching the parts without gluing or nailing, just crossing. Wooden parts of the mosque was adorned by the richest examples of Kalemisi (hand-drawn) ornaments. This technique allows applying different colours on wood.
Mahmut Bey Mosque
Mahmut Bey Mosque is located in Kasaba Village, 20 km. away from Kastamonu city centre. Mahmut Bey Mosque was built by Mahmut Bey in 1366, during the reign of Candaroğulları Sultanate. This Sultanate was founded in Kastamonu and Sinop region after Anatolian Seljuk Empire collapsed. Candaroğulları Sultanate ruled until 1461 when conquered by Ottoman Empire.
The most important feature of Mahmut Bey Mosque, this building is one of the first wood columned and wood roofed mosques in Anatolia. Mahmut Bey Mosque represents perfectly this rare architectural technique.
Exterior of mosque was constructed by hewn stone. This small mosque’s plan scheme is rectangle close to square. Ceiling of the building stands on four pillars. In spite of simple exterior, inside of mosque on all wood surfaces decorated with vivid and colourful ornaments called “kalem isi”. Beautiful woodwork and ornaments of Mahmut Bey Mosque are so famous all over the world that, from different foreign countries many tourists come to this small village to visit this small but picturesque building because of its magnificent interior ornaments.
Sivrihisar Great Mosque
Sivrihisar Great Mosque is located in Sivrihisar county of Eskişehir province. Mosque was built by Leşker Emir Celaleddin Ali in 1231-1232. The building subsequently was restored by Mikail bin Abdullah (Governor of Anatolian Seljuk Empire) in 1275 and then by Hızır Bey (Judge of Sivrihisar) in 1440.
This mosque’s plan scheme is rectangular and exterior walls are constructed by hewn stone. The mosque has four entrance doors and the roof carried by 67 wooden pillars. On the upper parts of these pillars are decorated by engravings, relieves and traditional ornament technique called as “Kalem işi”. This name comes from the applying ornaments on wood surfaces by special brushes named “Kalem”. Before painting the figures, contours of figures designed over the small punched papers. The artists used coal powder to draw geometrical and floral decoration. Kalem işi ornaments on wooden surfaces in Sivrihisar Great Mosque are mostly in green, red and black colours. Some of wooden pillars stands on stone bases and have ancient marble column heads. It is believed that these columns were brought from the Pessinus Ancient City, close to Sivrihisar county.
The building has six naves in East-West direction and middle naves are higher than the others. This architectural design reminds the shape of ancient Turkish tents from the nomadic era in the Central Asia.
Afyon Great Mosque
The mosque was built by woodwork master Neccar Emir Hacı Bey, who was commissioned by Sahipata Nusretiddün Hasan, in 1272, and is considered among the best examples of Seljuk wood and stone craftsmanship.
The mosque has undergone numerous restorations, and the first and one of the most comprehensive restorations took place during the reign of the Karamanid dynasty in 1341. The restoration took place under the supervision of the first mufti of the mosque, Emir Abdullah Bey. Upon his request, an inscription was placed above the mosque's door to inform its visitors about the restoration. There are two scripts placed on the mihrab of the mosque. On one of the epitaphs, the names "Poor slave Sivastos's son Ali Bey, Son of Mahmut Hacı Murat" are written. Moreover, these epitaphs feature the names and the signatures of the masters who wrote the lines.
Afyonkarahisar Mufti Şaban Kabuk said the 743-year-old mosque located on the foothills of the Afyonkarahisar Castle draws a great deal of attention from domestic and international tourists with its architecture and magnificence. "The muqarnas used on the upper parts of the mosque are built in different shapes. Each features Seljuk carpet motifs.
One of the most interesting parts of the Ulu Mosque is its pulpit. The door of the pulpit is said to be even older than the mosque itself. It is claimed that the door was the only thing left from the fire that burnt down the Hocabey Masjid, and it was later brought to the new mosque. The 900-year-old door was made from ebony trees and managed to survive up until the present day without any protective chemicals. The interior of the mosque is given light by four windows on the western and northern sides of the building.
Arslanhane Mosque (Ahi Şerafettin Mosque) is a 13th century mosque in Ankara. The mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Turkey still standing. It was built during the reign of Mesud II of the Anatolian Seljuks in 1290. Its architect was Ebubekir Mehmet. It was commissioned by two Ahi leaders named Hüsamettin and Hasaneddin. However in 1330, it was repaired by another Ahi leader named Şerafettin after whom the mosque was named. After several minor repairs the mosque was restored by the Directorate General of Foundations in 2010-2013 term.
While external appearance of the building is plain, inside the building has more colourful view. But when we compare with elaborate stonemasonry in other buildings from the Seljuks period, it is possible to say that Arslanhane Mosque has more modest character in terms of architectural design. It has five naves in south-north direction and the middle nave is wider than the other naves. Totally 24 wooden columns carry the roof. Columns headings are ancient elements from Roman and Byzantine period. Some of these headings are in Dor design (plain) and some of these are in Corinth design with acanthus leaves.
Seljuk period with a flat inner ceiling, mihrap (prayer niche) of Seljuk tiles, and an unusual, double colonnade of wooden columns. Some of the stones used in the construction of the mosque were collected from the ruins of the Roman and Byzantine period. The white marble main gate and the minaret rising on the north east intrigue to its façade Ahi Şerafettin founder of the mosque lies in a Selcuk tomb opposite the mosque itself. The mosque is called “Arslanhane” (Lion house), named after the lion statue of antiquity buried on the wall of this tomb.
The mihrap (prayer niche) is one of the most distinctive structural elements from the Seljuks period. It was made by tile mosaics and plaster with the frequent Seljuks shapes such as octagonal stars, triangles, squares and circles. The minbar is another important element of the mosque with its detailed and elaborated geometric decoration style.
Arslanhane Mosque was repaired in 1331, 1694, 1704 and in 1876 and also during the 20th century. The area where the mosque locates, was declared as the protected area in 1972. Arslanhane Mosque and its neighbourhood was reclamated in 1999.
Latitude and Longitude, or UTM coordinates:
Eşrefoğlu Mosque 37°41’00.39” N - 31°43’07.13” E
Mahmut Bey Mosque 41°28’49.51” N - 33°41’17.63” E
Sivrihisar Great Mosque 39°27’03.17” N - 31°32’14.55” E
Afyon Great Mosque 38°45’18.10” N - 30°31’46.97” E
Arslanhane Mosque 39°56’12.11” N - 32°51’54.91”E
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
Wooden columned and wooden roofed mosques compose a special building group in Turkish-Islamic architecture in Anatolia. Wood is a traditional constructional material in Central Asia where the seeds of Turkish architecture were sown. Wooden columned and wooden roofed mosques in Anatolia bears a Central Asian mosque character and symbolizes the transmitting of a life style of Anatolia.
In these mosques, interior wooden surfaces decorated with vivid and colorful ornaments called “kalem işi”. This technique was applied on wood surface by special brushes named “Kalem”. Before painting the figures, contours of figures designed over the small punched papers. The artists were used coal powder to draw geometrical and floral decoration. Ornaments on wooden surfaces in these mosques are one of the best prototypes of its period. These ornaments are generally is in good condition despite of centuries. Ornaments in the building have various colours range from to ruby red, the wide application of black and white, indigo, blue and yellow.
Criterion (ii): Wooden columned and wooden roofed mosques compose rare type in Anatolian Turkish Architecture. These mosques are one elegant examples of this structural technique. Before coming to Anatolia, Turks built wooden columned and wooden roofed mosques in Turkistan area (From Central Asia to the Caspian Sea) and they brought this special structural technique to Anatolia in 11th century.
According to documents, Arus-ül Felek Mosque from Gazneli Sultanate and mosques in some old Turkistan cities such as Samarkand, Bukhara and Hive from Karahanli State, were wooden columned and wooden roofed mosques.
Besides, wooden columns are exhibited in Tashkent and Samarkand museums from Oburdan and Kurut Mosques in Tajikistan. Moreover, 24 wooden columns from Hive Mosque are traces of wooden roofed mosques from 10th and 11th centuries.
Criterion (iv): Although there are some examples in different places, wooden columned and wooden roofed mosques are not very frequent in Anatolia. Having variety of refinement woodwork and well- preserved painted interior, these mosques are the best examples of this type of building.
After the Seljuks and Beyliks period, wooden roofed and wooden columned architecture technic was used in Ottoman period and later. For example in Denizli in Aegean Region of Anatolia, there are nearly 15 wooden roofed and wooden columned mosques from the Late Ottoman Period.
Besides, using wood as the main structural element shows the “human-natural environment relationship”. Because generally, these mosques were built in forested lands.
Interior of these mosques are ornamented by vivid colorful paintings. This traditional ornament technique called as “Kalemişi”. In this technique, decoration applies on wood surface by special brushes named “Kalem”. Before painting the figures, contours of figures designed over the small punched papers. The artists were using coal powder to draw geometrical and floral decoration. Ornaments on wooden surfaces in mosques are one of best prototypes of its period. These ornaments are in good condition despite of centuries. Ornaments in these buildings have various colours range from orange to ruby red, the wide application of black and white, indigo, blue and yellow.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
Eşrefoğlu Mosque was registered as cultural property to be preserved by the statement of Superior Council of Immovable Antiquities and Monuments (dated 12/07/1980, numbered A-2280). In addition, the site surrounding the Eşrefoğlu Mosque protected by the Turkish Legislation for Preservation of Cultural and Natural Properties, Law No: 2863 amended as Urban Site since 03/06/1988, by the decision of related Regional Conservation Council.
Mahmut Bey Mosque was registered as cultural property to be preserved by the statement of Superior Council of Immovable Antiquities and Monuments (dated 29/11/1988, numbered 563).
In 2007, within the context of restoration, a new wooden minaret was built in place of concrete minaret which is not original. Roof was renewed and some parts of walls were completed. Excellent woodcarving door of the mosque was stolen in 1977, but then it was found in Manisa and brought back to Kastamonu, placed in the Ethnographical Museum. Today, the door of the mosque is not the original one and there has been a successful exact replica of it.
The measured drawings, restitution and restoration projects of the mosque were approved by the related Conservation Board on 10/03/2006 and also within the scope of the restoration of the Mosque, roof, drainage and “Kalem İşi” projects as well as the detail drawings of the minaret were prepared and approved by the Conservation Board on 03/07/2006.
In addition, mihrab of mosque is made by plaster. Using plaster mihrab is a rare architectural element in Turkish-Islamic architecture too. This mihrab has a decoration plan consist of geometrical and floral ornaments. Mihrab influenced because of the humidity from floor. As an urgent precaution, in 2007 protection project started by Istanbul Technical University. Thanks to this protection project harmful effect on building stopped.
Sivrihisar Great Mosque was registered as cultural property to be preserved by the statement of Superior Council of Immovable Antiquities and Monuments (dated 12/03/1983, numbered A-4194). In addition it is protected by the Turkish Legislation for Preservation of Cultural and Natural Properties, Law No. 2863.
Sivrihisar Great Mosque was restored firstly in 1440 by Hızır Bey (Judge of Sivrihisar). During this restoration process the mihrab (niche in a mosque wall indicating the direction of Mecca) was placed in mosque. This mihrab was made by plaster and has 15th century Ottoman Era decoration character.
The mosque was restored in 1958, 1978 and lastly in 2015 by Directorate General of Foundations. Within the context of these restoration works the roof of mosque was changed, electrical installation was renewed and the wooden pillars and roof were reinforced.
Afyon Great Mosque was registered as cultural property to be preserved by the statement of Superior Council of Immovable Antiquities and Monuments (dated 01/05/1987, numbered 178).
Arslanhane Mosque was registered as cultural property to be preserved by the statement of Superior Council of Immovable Antiquities and Monuments (dated 14/01/1992, numbered 2162).In addition all monuments are protected by the Turkish Legislation for Preservation of Cultural and Natural Properties, Law No. 2863.
Comparison with other similar properties
The biggest wooden roofed and wooden columned mosque in Anatolia is Eşrefoğlu Mosque. The mosque that has 48 wooden columns is decorated with colorful interior decorations named “kalem işi”. Besides, it resembles Arslanhane Mosque with its six meters height mihrab.
Wooden roofed and wooden columned mosques are special to Anatolian Seljuks period with its multi- columns and wide-reaching architectural design. But afterwards in the Ottoman Period, all building was united under a main dome. Especially, Süleymaniye Mosque in İstanbul and Selimiye Mosque in Edirne from 16th century, are the best examples of main domed mosques. While monumental and domed mosques were built in Ottoman capitals such as Bursa, Edirne and especially in İstanbul, wooden roofed and wooden columned mosques were built in Aegean Region during the Ottoman Period. For example, nearly 15 mosques from the Ottoman Period, locates in Denizli.
Turks built wooden columned and wooden roofed mosques in Turkistan area (From Central Asia to the Caspian Sea) and they brought this special structural technique to Anatolia in 11th century. According to documents, Arus-ül Felek Mosque from Gazneli Sultanate and mosques in some old Turkistan cities such as Samarkand, Bukhara and Hive from Karahanli State, were wooden columned and wooden roofed mosques. Besides, wooden columns are exhibited in Tashkent and Samarkand museums from Oburdan and Kurut Mosques in Tajikistan. Moreover, 24 wooden columns from Hive Mosque are traces of wooden roofed mosques from 10th and 11th centuries.