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Esrefoglu Mosque

Date of Submission: 15/04/2011
Criteria: (ii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of Turkey to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Beysehir District, City of Konya
Ref.: 5611

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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 1299, 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.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Esrefoglu Mosque includes all the main elements of early Anatolian Turkish architecture. The building is the biggest, best preserved wooden columned and roofed mosque in Islamic World. The kalemisi (a-hand-drawn ornament of wooden parts are the best preserved traditional technique peculiar to Turkey) and richest example of the World.

Criterion (ii) Mosque architecture is the most important subject in Turkish-Islamic Art, owing to their generally good condition and chance to be examined clearly in a historical development context. Wooden columned and roofed mosques constitute a separate and rare type. In Anatolia, architects of Turkish states turned to prefer "stone" instead of brick and terra cota. Wood is a traditional constructional material in Central Asia where the seeds of Turkish architecture were sown. Esrefoglu Mosque bears a Central Asian mosque character and symbolizes the transmitting of a life style to Anatolia.

Criterion (iv) Although there are some examples in different places, wooden columned and roofed mosques are not very frequent in Turkey. Building, with its size and good condition, is admitted as the biggest surviving example of this type. Besides, the ornamented wooden parts are substantially original.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Esrefoglu 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 Esrefoglu 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.

Comparison with other similar properties

There are several wooden columned and roofed mosques in Turkey like Afyon Ulu Mosque and Ankara Arslanhane Mosque. Esrefoglu Mosque is the biggest and best preserved one of this type. It is the only mosque bearing all above mentioned characteristics.