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Sivrihisar Great Mosque

Date of Submission: 13/04/2016
Criteria: (ii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of Turkey to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Sivrihisar County, Eskişehir Province
Coordinates: N39 27 3.40 E31 32 14.43
Ref.: 6120

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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


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 structure is in the group of the wooden columned and roofed mosques in Anatolia. Wooden columned and roofed mosques are not prevalent in Anatolian Turkish Architecture. Sivrihisar Great Mosque represents this rare architectural technique with other important buildings such as Eşrefoğlu Mosque (inscribed on the UNESCO Tentative List in 2011), Mahmut Bey Mosque (inscribed on the UNESCO Tentative List in 2014), Afyon Great Mosque and Arslanhane Mosque in Ankara.

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.

Sivrihisar Great Mosque is famous for its delicately decorated wooden pulpit as well. Pulpit was made by walnut and decorated by geometrical and floral ornaments.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Sivrihisar Great Mosque with its all the main elements, is an outstanding example of early Anatolian Turkish architecture. It is one of the most important examples of wooden columned and roofed mosques in Anatolia. This rare structure technique increases the importance of Sivrihisar Great Mosque. Although its exterior appearance is plain, its interior full of beautiful delicate decorated wooden ceiling, floor and columns.

There are several wooden columned and roofed mosques in Anatolia such as Eşrefoğlu Mosque, Afyon Great Mosque, Mahmut Bey Mosque and Arslanhane Mosque. But as compared with the others, it is possible to state that the Sivrihisar Great Mosque draws attention with its large-size and the good condition of ornaments on wooden surfaces. Nevertheless, with its delicate work the wooden pulpit is one of important elements of Sivrihisar Great Mosque.

The roof carried by 67 wooden pillars and this number symbolizes the sum of the age of Prophet Mohammed when he died (63) and the number of his Caliphs (4).

Criterion (ii): Wooden columned and roofed mosques are rare type in Anatolian Turkish Architecture. Sivrihisar Great Mosque is one of the elegant examples of this kind of structures. Before coming to Anatolia, Turkish architects used brick and terra cota as building materials. After settled down in Anatolia, they turned to prefer stone instead of brick and terra cota.

But during the Anatolian Seljuks era and later on Turkish architects rarely used wood as a building material especially interior of buildings to carry roof. Wood was a traditional construction material in Central Asia where the seeds of Turkish Architecture were sown. Turkic nomad communities used wood to build their tents named “Oba”.

When we take into consideration the building date, it is possible to propose that the Sivrihisar Great Mosque bears this Central Asian structural building character and symbolizes the transmitting of a life style of Anatolia.

Criterion (iv): Wooden columned and roofed mosques are represent the unique architectural design of Anatolian Turkish Architecture. Having variety of refinement woodwork and well preserved interior, Sivrihisar Great Mosque is admitted as one of the biggest surviving example of this type.

Sivrihisar Great Mosque is a distinguished building with its size and the structural design which renders to carry the roof with wooden pillars. These decorated pillars are still in good condition as the base for roof.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

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.

In terms of using wood as a structural element and the decorating style of interior, Sivrihisar Great Mosque is accepted as one of the masterpieces of Anatolian Turkish Architecture. Some wooden pillars have ancient marble columns probably from Pessinus Ancient City, this structural feature contributes to mosque’s decoration design.

Pulpit of mosque was made by walnut material and decorated gracefully. In terms of decoration style and ornament scheme, the pulpit is acknowledged one of the most important examples from the Anatolian Seljuks Era. On the gate wing of pulpit, the name of craftsman is written as “Hasan bin Mehmed”.

The authenticity and integrity of the carved ornaments is substantially conserved. In addition, there is no specific deterioration on the wooden pillars, pulpit or mihrab.

Sivrihisar Great Mosque is controlled and monitored by the State in order to sustain its cultural and historical values.

Comparison with other similar properties

Wooden columned and roofed mosques composed the rare type of Anatolian Turkish Architecture. Previously, Eşrefoğlu Mosque was inscribed on the UNESCO Tentative List in 2011 and Mahmut Bey Mosque was inscribed on the UNESCO Tentative List in 2014.

Other wooden columned and roofed mosques are Afyon Great Mosque and Arslanhane Mosque in Anatolia. In terms of size, Sivrihisar Great Mosque is smaller than Eşrefoğlu Mosque but is possible to propose that its interior as impressive as Eşrefoğlu Mosque. Similarly Eşrefoğlu Mosque, Sivrihisar Great Mosque has an open space on roof for lighting and ventilation.

When we compare the ornaments between Mahmut Bey Mosque and Sivrihisar Great Mosque, obviously in Mahmut Bey Mosque interior is more vivid and colorful than Sivrihisar Great Mosque. But on several wooden pillars of Sivrihisar Great Mosque can be seen traditional colorful ornaments named “kalem işi”. In addition, using ancient marble column heads as structural elements is one of the important attributions of the Sivrihisar Great Mosque.