The Masjid Alaeddin is the great mosque of the city of Konya which for many years was the capital of the Seljuk kingdom in Asia Minor. Aside from being the chief mosque of the Seljuk sultans in the Middle Ages, it was also their chief burial site. The tombs of at least eight Seljuk rulers from the 12th and 13th centuries are located within the Masjid Alaeddin, giving it the distinction as being the mosque where the largest number of Muslim rulers from a single dynasty are buried under one roof, possibly anywhere in the world. Although the Seljuk dynasty collapsed in 1307, the Masjid Alaeddin remains remarkably well preserved and is still Konya’s most important mosque. It is also one of the oldest intact mosques in Turkey.
The Seljuk Empire was one of the most confusing of all of the major Muslim dynasties. The Seljuks, who ruled a huge swath of Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Persia and Central Asia in the 11th century, were the first major Turkish Islamic dynasty. While they effectively succeeded the Abbasids as rulers of the Islamic caliphate, the Abbasids continued to rule from Baghdad throughout the Seljuk period, during which time they retained the caliphate title and power was shared with other groups like the Mamluks. Despite these complex arrangements, the Seljuk Empire is generally recognized as the last time most of the Islamic world outside of Africa was united.
It did not survive intact for long. Soon after the peak of its extant in 1092 AD, the Seljuk Empire broke up into smaller realms which were soon swallowed up by other Muslim kingdoms. A century later, the Seljuk Turks controlled only Asia Minor, and their kingdom would form the basis for what would eventually become the modern state of Turkey.
The Seljuk kingdom in Asia Minor eventually came to be known as the Sultanate of Rum, a realm which survived until the 14th century. When most scholars refer to the Seljuk Empire, they are usually referring to the Sultanate of Rum in this period. The sultanate, which completely dominated the interior of Anatolia, established several capitals: first at Nicaea, renamed Iznik, and later at Iconium, renamed Konya. Konya would become the largest and most important Muslim city in Asia Minor throughout the latter half of the Seljuk period.
During their occupation of the city, the Seljuks converted the city’s ancient Byzantine church into the Masjid Alaeddin and interred at least eight of their rulers their, including Mesud I, who was famous for his victories against European Crusaders. However, with the rise of the Ottomans, Konya eventually lost its preeminence to Bursa and later to Istanbul. Amazingly, the mosque and its tombs survived both the crusades and the Mongol invasions, and remains to this day one of Turkey’s best preserved medieval mosques.
The Masjid Alaeddin was originally built as a church in Byzantine times and converted to a mosque in 1080 AD. Most of the mosque dates from this time or to the major renovations undertaken by Sultan Mesud I in the 12th century and Kaykaus I in the 13th century. The construction is very Byzantine in appearance. Unlike the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, the conversion of the masjid Alaeddin did not result in an overtly Islamic-appearing building. In fact it looks much more like an eastern Christian monastery than a mosque. The most traditional oriental element of the mosque is the minaret, which was in fact added by the Ottomans a century later.
The mosque is most famous for the two large mausoleum structures which stand in its courtyard. The first houses the tombs of eight Seljuk sultans from the 12th and 13th centuries, including Mesud I, Kilij Arslan II, Suleymanshah II, Kaykhusraw I, Kayqubad I, Kaykhusraw II, Kilij Arslan IV and Kaykhusraw III. This is the largest number of Muslim rulers buried in a single place outside of Medina. The second mausoleum contains a number of unidentified remains.
The Masjid Alaeddin crowns a low hill called the Alaattin Tepesi on the outskirts of Konya’s old town. As of this writing no other visitor information was available. Web: http://goturkey.com/en (official tourism website of Turkey)
The city of Konya has among its many sites a number of mosques as well as museums with some of Turkey’s best exhibits on Islamic culture and art. Highlights include the Mevlana Museum, where the Tomb of Jalal Al-Din Rumi is located; the Masjid Aziziye; the Masjid Selimiye Mosque and the Ince Minare Museum. In addition to the Shrine of Jalal Al-Din Rumi, other Sufi shrines in the region include the Shrine of Somunca Baba in Darende and the Holy Mountain and Shrine of Duzgunbaba, which is said to have healing powers.