Didem Doğan

Konya: a trip to the 13th century, capital of the Selcuki Empire

Most of the visitors come to this city in Central Anatolia to pay a visit to the mausoleum of Rumi. Especially in the last years the story of Rumi and Sems, two mystics who met here in Konya has become widely known. 

The Mausoleum of Rumi is always full of people. At one of the walls inside the Mausoleum of Rumi you’ll see the waw letter in Arabic alphabet: waw, this time two of the letters are looking at each other. The mystics interpret this as a representation of the fetal position of the human being. Indeed, it looks like the position of the baby in mother’s womb. They say that the human being is at this position at the very beginning of his/her existence in this world; surrendered to divine will power. The two was letters meet each other and become one. It has also a numerical meaning, the double was is 66, which they say is also the representation of God.

Across the mausoleum there’s a huge cemetery: Ucler cemetery, its name coming from the mystics who came from Central Asia, Horasan, to Anatolia to bring Islam to these lands. There is in fact more than Mausoleum in this city, it is full of architectural gems due to its being the capital of the Selcuki Empire in the 13th century

I’m having a walk in the old town. It’s Saturday, sunny and the streets are full of people. I pass the The Alaaddin Hill on the left, and take one of the narrow streets lined with shops. An elegant building from the 17th century, it is the Aziziye Mosque, made in baroque style, at the entrance I see a gold coloured ceiling; especially its minarets look very delicate. The mosques are always full in this city known one of the most ‘conservative’ places in the country. They are living places, contrary to the churches in Europe. I walk back and arrive to the Iplikci Mosque, dating from the 12th century, a rectangular building covered with bricks. When Rumi moved to Konya with his family from the city of Balkh, in present-day Afghanistan, they lived in this neighbourhood. They say his funeral was carried from this mosque to today’s mausoleum in 8 hours, a distance of only 500 meters. He was the most beloved and respected sage of the time.

When I cross the avenue l reach another square where the Serafettin Mosque is located, built in 13th century in a beautiful Selcuki style. The Selcukis, a Turkish tribe who came from Central Asia and settled in Anatolia in the 12th-13th centuries left elegant architectural heritage. Today’s cities in Turkey such as Konya, Sivas are full of examples. The ones in Konya are stone buildings with minarets that have a turquoise blue line. The Selcuki architecture reminds me of Japanese simplicity and elegance, simple at first sight but elegant and refine in every detail.

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