Friday, February 9, 2007



Ass. Prof. Dr. Mehmet TUNÇER[1]


Konya, which is in the Central Anatolian Region, is one of the greatest cities of Turkey as far as surface area is concerned. It has been densely populated in every historical period since its land is distributed into plateaus, plains and closed river systems and its soil is fertile. It was an important center of trade, culture and politics all through the First and Middle Ages at the intersection points of historical trade routes that connect the Anatolian towns to each other, to Asia and to Europe (Figure 1). It still keeps that importance today.


Significant settlements have been established in and around this City since prehistoric times. This part, which also contains the ancient Lykaonia, has in it the oldest ancient-era settlements of Anatolia. Many findings, witnesses to the prehistoric times, have been unearthed in the Alaeddin Hill. The same Hill has been home to the Frigians (Phrigians?) between the 8th-7th centuries BC. Catalhoyuk, near the Cumra District, houses one of the richest veins of findings of the history of civilization (800-5300 BC). Besides Catalhoyuk, important Neolithical settlements are Erbaba (Beysehir), Suberde and Can Hasan. Settlements were established at Can Hasan, Western Catalhoyuk, the Alaeddin Hill, Sizma, Karahoyuk and other centers in the Calcolitichal and Bronze Ages.

Konya is one of those Anatolian cities whose name has lasted since the ancient times. Its name of old, Ikonion, is related to the work “Ikon”, which means “picture”, “holy picture”. The name Ikonium was altered to Iconium in the early Roman period, then to Claudiconium when the Emperor gave the town his own name in the period of Emperor Cladius (41-54 AD). The town, which became a completely Roman town in the period of Emperor Hadrianus (2nd century AD: 117-138), went by the name “Colonia Selenie, Adrina Augusta Iconium. The name of the town, which is mentioned as “Conium” or “Stancona” in Byzantian sources and “Conia, Cogne, Cogna, Konich, Konia Tokonion” in other sources, appears as “iconium” in Crusader sources. The Arabians named the town as Kuniya. The name Konya, which was used in the Seljuk (Selçuk) and Ottoman (Osmanli) periods as well, has come unaltered to our day.

After raids by Kimmerians, Lydians and Persians, Konya was put under Roman rule in 133 BC. It is known that Konya was included in the first great Anatolian Empire, the State of the Hittites (1650-712 BC). The Konya Egerli and Karaman are among old Hittite towns. The rock base-relief, which is one of the most descriptive properties of Hittite art, is encountered in Egerli, Ivris, Beysehir-Eflatunpinar and Fasillar. Following that, Konya entered the power of the Frigian state (712-695) and the Lydians (680-546).

This is followed by the Persians conquering all of Anatolia from one end to the other (546-334 BC). The town was included in the Cappadoccia Kingdom between the dates 332-17 BC. Conquered by the Romans in 17 BC, Konya became an important center in this period and the Byzantian period. The Roman period displays the properties of the peace time in such a town as Konya which is wide-spread on plains. The town was the scene for several Emevi and Abbasi (Arabs) attacks in the Eastern Rome/Byzantine period between the years 395-1076. After the Malazgirt Battle, it was conquered by Suleyman Shah in the year 1076 and made the Capital City of the Anatolian Selcuklu (Seljucks) State. The Alaeddin Hill is an inner citadel in Konya, which attained its true character during the Selcuklu period. This Selcuk Citadel has almost been left right in the middle of the town during the Ottoman Empire Period.


The “Center of Trade”, an indication of the economical structure, level of technology, and the social and cultural life of a town, is the most important part of the town. There is a deep-rooted tradition of trade organization and trade structure in the Ottoman-Turkish towns. The traditional trade centers of many of our towns today, like in Konya, are physical proofs of this tradition, which have lived until this day. These trade centers should be rearranged and old buildings should be given new areas of application. The position of Konya, on the route that runs by mountains going down all the way to the Mediterranean shores, lends itself readily to urban settlement. Catalhoyuk, that is perhaps the first prehistoric Anatolian settlement to display urban characteristic, is on the same route, very close to Konya. The ancient route, which goes across Anatolia diagonally, had become extremely significant when Bursa rose as an economical center in the Ottomans’ time.


This route set off from Bursa, passed through Kutahya-Karahisar-Aksehir-Konya-Adana and reached Halep and Sam; it therefore connected Konya simultaneously to the other Ottoman towns, most significantly Istanbul. Kayseri, through which another trade route from Syrie passed, was connected to Konya through Aksaray.

Another way the Ottomans reached the Arabian countries was the Alanya-Antalya (Attalia) sea route. Heavy trade material of Anatolia was brought to Antalya through land and were carried to Alexandria and other regions from there through sea. And the control of that Antalya route was in the hands of Karamans, in Konya.

The trade and social focal points in Konya are the trader-crafter markets surrounding Mevlana Kulliyesi, Selimiye Mosque, Kapu Mosque and Aziziye Mosque. The two basic elements of the Islamic town, the mosque and the market, are observed to be the two elements controlling the physical structure in Ottoman towns as well. However, Ottoman towns were developed, unlike other Islamic Towns, by creating imarets (Pious Foundations), which are collections of religions and social buildings. Since imarets included buildings for all services, including mosques, inns, baths and mealhouses (asevi), they tended to attract people around themselves.

The Konya settlement area was within the walls surrounding the Alaeddin Hill in the Selcuk times. After the town walls were repaired, a Palace was erected on the northern slopes of the hill and the Ulu Mosque (Alaeddin Mosque) in the middle part. According to the building remains, it can be stated that the northern side of the hill was reserved for Turks and the southern side, for the Christian people. The palace, government buildings, schools, mosques, inns and baths were constructed in the Turkish part. There was a wall separating the Turkish and Christian Districts.

The Town, which grew and flourished rapidly, was surrounded by a broader wall by Alaeddin Keykubat I. Charles Texier mentions that there were 108 towers on these walls, one in every 30 meters; and there were bridges on these walls where the gates were. There were 12 gates leading out of the wall. Some of these gates had names like Aksaray, Atpazarý (Horse Market), Debbaglar, Ertas, Fahirani, Halka Begus, Meydan (Square), Çeşme Kapısı (Fountain Gate). The Town spilt out of these walls as well after the 16th century and spread swiftly in four directions. The main spreads were to Araplar and Sedirler in the northeast, to Turbe in the east, to Uluirmak and Lalebahce in the south and to Havzan and Meram in the west.

Information about the trade areas and markets during the Selcuk period is limited. While the markets and bazaars were around the Alaeddin Hill until the 13th century, they were moved out of the outer walls after that date. The Bugday Pazari (Wheat Market) was in the north, the Kapan Pazarý (Trap Market) and Odun Pazari (Wood Market) were in the west, and the Bezezistan (Bedestan) was in the east. There also were horse and sheep markets nearby the Aksaray Gate.

Some of the inns, whose patrons were merchants, that are in the markets are Sekerciler, Pirincciler, Vezir Ziyadettin, Bedrettin Yalman, Demre Hanim and Altin Apa. Today, only some shops next to the Sahip Ata inn remain of the trade points.

The Konya traditional market; had a unique and original structure in the Ottoman as well as the Selcuk Period. Every trade branch operated in a street assigned to it. The center of the market started from the Kanuni Bedesten and reached out to Atpazari in the south.

The market was in its present bounds in the 19th century. After the 1869 fire, a great portion was renovated by the Governor Burdurlu Tevfik Pasa.

The traders and crafters that remain to us from the old market are as follows: Mustaflar, Çarıkçılar (Shoemakers), Yorgancılar (Coverlet-Makers), Marangozlar (Carpenters), Demirciler (Blacksmiths), Attarlar (Druggist), Tuzcular, Kececiler, Jewelers and Dabbags (Tanner).

None of the trade buildings that were constructed in the Ottoman Period could reach to our day in its original form. And the nine-domed covered bazaar “Konya Bedesteni”, dated 1538, was torn down and the School of Industry (today, the building of Special Governorship) was erected in its place. The traditional Konya Market was built in 1869 by the Governor Tevfik Pasha, and the Wheat Market was build in 1901 by the Governor Ferit Pasha. Some of the trade buildings, which are mentioned in historical sources but could not stand to this day, were: the Kiremitli Inn built by Beyazit II., the Avlun Inn built by Behram Aga, the Alaca Inn built by Mahmut Pasha, the Valide Inn built by Kosem Valide Sultan, the Bezirganlar Inn built by Mustafa Pasa and the Aslan Aga Inn built by the Kethuda Aslan Aga. The Mecidiye Inn, built in the 19th century, is still in use today (Figure 3).


There are inns that bear the properties of late period Ottoman architecture in the traditional town center besides the Mecidiye Inn, such as the Nakipoglu Inn and Basarili Inn. Market Places (Bazaars), which were important elements of the traditional pattern, have been destroyed (like the Uzum Market (Grape Bazaar) and Agac Market (Wood Bazaar) (Figure 4).

Whereas the shops that create the pattern in this part of the town center had generally been one-or two-story, mixed roofed, with balconies on the front facade, wooden and shuttered buildings in the beginning of the 20th century, now they are completely disfigured by repairs, added stories and new buildings. One of the best-preserved historical trade patterns today is located in the part to the north of the Turbe Street.



The first urban Master and Implementation Plan of Konya City, whose basemaps were prepared in the 1940s, was made in the year 1944. In the Master and Implementation Plans, that were obtained through the planning competition held by Iller Bankasi in 1964, it was decided that the city be developed in the Konya-Ankara axis’ direction.

According to the 1990 census, the city has a population of 513 344. Of that number, 188 244 lives in the Selcuk District, 182 444 in Meram District and 142 678 in the Karatay District.

In the 1/25 000 scaled Environment Arrangement Plan approved in the year 1983, the population for the year 2005 is targeted to be 1.3 millions.

The Central Business Districts (CBD) of Konya consists of the proximity of Aleaddin Hill, which is developing to be as the administrative center of the city. The Turbe District, where the historical town center is located, is a part that can be reached by the Outer Citadel and the Aksaray Gate (Bab-i Aksaray) in the eastern part of the city. There is a dense traffic artery between the Aleaddin Hill and the Mevlana Kulliyesi. This artery, which was conceived to be a pedestrian-concentrated promenade in the 1964 plan, has not yet been put into application.

The effects of the Konya Urban Master Plan (Y. Tasci Plan) dated 1965 on the Historical Town Center are as follows:

Konya is established on a historical core and is presently developing in a radial and erratic manner depending on the commercial and social equipment. The onset of highrise buildings on norrow streets in the town center indicates the growing tendency for sunless, unhealthy places.
The town center is unable to serve surrounding settlements. As a natural consequence of the human stream flowing in an east-west direction and connecting the bus terminal and the traditional center, a new center is planned to develop in time and a dense building is foreseen around this center.

The Aleaddin Hill-Mevlana Kulliyesi axis is set aside for pedestrian traffic and it is decided to form two collecting routes, one to the north and one to the south, and a central ring. This ring will provide easier access from the neighborhood, which is developing all directions, to the traditional centers (Figure 5).


Developing the roads surrounding the Historical Town Center, a second ring was formed around the center; thus, the region between the first and the second rings is conceived as a part that is fitting to the theory of urban development, and a transition-development area for the center.

The permission for 3, 4, sometimes 5-story buildings has, for a long time, prevented high-scale building demands in this part, as compared to the higher-rant parts of the City. On the other hand, since these parts are right next to the traditional trade center and since a potential for tourism is inherent there, the interest in the region has ever been alive. For the existing main artery to be rearranged for mainly pedestrian traffic, the two new Northern Arteries that were created connect the residential areas in the eastern part of town to the historical trade center and to the new center in Nalcaci, through the Turbe District (Figure 6).


To the west of the Turbe District is the historical trade center, and to the east, north and south is the Konya traditional residential pattern. This area, which has been used for residential purposes until recent years, is gradually being converted into a tourism trade, daily trade, hosting and small production area since it is included within the CBD boundaries; and with occasional stores and warehouses, is slowly being ruined. The 1-2 storied old Konya houses, part of the traditional residential pattern, are being pulled down and 4-6-storied buildings are being erected on the same street, hence the density is blowing up to disproportionate amounts and a building order that clashes with the old town pattern, that lacks services and parking areas, is being established.

While the existing road pattern in the traditional center is being preserved as it is (apart from some opening-closing to traffic and some one-way designations), great damage has been made to the historical sight of Konya by the increased number of allowed stories.
The implementation plan that has been in force in Konya until our day was neither prepared in a manner thoughtful of the cultural valuables that have to be preserved as examples of monumental and civilian architecture, nor was aimed to preservation.

Where registered buildings were dense, either the road was widened or new roads were opened by pulling down registered buildings. By wide-ranging operations in the traditional center, big-scale buildings like the Mevlana Market, the Kadinlar Bazaar, The Seyh Kamil Merkez Market, the Rampali Market, the Saray Market, or big-program buildings that were erected by combining together all of a building plot or even two plots together, were made, totally incompatible with the traditional pattern in their mass, dimensions, or architecture.

The projects of some buildings like the Ferah Market, Vakif Market-Business complex, and the Altin Market are relatively fitting in their environment with their dimensions. Another project that was prepared was or the renovation of the Old Wheat Market and converting it to a great closed-roof-market complex. All of these applications disturb the historical pattern of the traditional center, and the intensifying business activities bring about transportation problems.

Konya, whose historical past is extremely rich and whose accumulation of cultural and architectural material is extensive, should be considered with all-encompassing approaches and its cultural valuables and monumental structures should be preserved and developed as parts of a whole.

Actually, according to the decision numbered 225 and made on 01.05.1995 by the Konya Council of Preservation of Cultural and Natural Assets, a “Konya Historical Town Center Conservation Plan”, that includes the greater part of the traditional center has been prepared by considering the traditional center as a whole.

With this plan, the “Mevlana Kulliyesi Environmental Arrangement Project” formerly prepared by the Ministry of Culture, the “Mevlana Kulliyesi Location Preservation-Aimed Building Plan” that considers the close neighborhood of the Kulliye, and the “Piri Mehmet Pasa Kulliyesi and Its Environment Conservation Plan” prepared by the Karatay Municipality, transportation, land use, cultural assets that have to be preserved and other similar factors were considered altogether and it was attempted to create a “Historical Town Center Project”.

All these new developments are positive, although late. Nevertheless, the planning and application issues presented below should be considered with priority.

The “Konya Historical Town Center Conservation Plan” does not contain all of the traditional pattern and center of Konya. Moreover, a complete and whole inventory has to be made of the cultural valuables that could reach intact to our day that have to be preserved. An inventory has been made of the traditional central parts and new registrations have been made. However, the conservation plans of parts that include the traditional pattern in the south-west and north should be prepared urgently.

There are many studies about the archaeology of the City of Konya. Still, these studies remain separate from each other. It is important to create an “Archaeology Master Plan” of the town about past, especially archaeological periods, by preparing the restitution of the City. The traditional town center and the traditional residential pattern are within the borders of the Meram Municipality and Karatay Municipality. The Greater Municipality also has authority over these two municipalities. For instance, the study on the Preservation-Aimed Planning for the Surroundings of Piri Mehmed Pasa has been made by Karatay Municipality, whereas the Historical Town Center Preservation-Aimed Planning studies were made by the Greater Municipality.

The preservation plans around the Mevlana have, on the other hand, been prepared by the Ministry of Culture. The Konya Province is directing the project and application works around the Mevlana Kulliyesi and its close proximity. As can be seen, the chaos of authority and many-headedness that can be observed in a lot of other preservation areas is encountered in Konya as well.

It is probably the best if the preservation and improvement-aimed planning studies the traditional pattern of Konya (the central and residential pattern) are conducted by the Greater Municipality of Konya, while some specific projects of application are applied by the Meram and Karatay Municipalities.

Naturally, the central administration’s (Governor, the Ministry of Culture, the Department of Pious Foundations etc.) and local units (The Preservation Council, the Province Culture Department, the Regional Department of Pious Foundations etc.) should be directing, controlling and financially and technically aiding the local administrations.

In the long run, it is vital that the local administrations (municipalities) should form units within their structure that contain personnel experienced in urban planning, restoration, preservation, rehabilitation, development, and renovation to fit the historical environment; and in the short run, that they should work in cooperation with people, establishments and organisations experienced in these matters.

By considering “Special Project Areas” that are to be determined in the course of the work on Preservation Planning, urban design, landscape and urban furniture projects, relevation and restoration projects should be prepared in greater scales (1/500, 1/200 and the like), and applications should commence without any further delay. The important point, beyond the preparations of these plans and projects, is passing on the valuables to be preserved to the future generations by prompt application of these.


· TUNÇER, M., “Conservation Project of Konya Historical Trade Area, Research Report”, Oct. 1996, (Unpublished) UTTA Planning and Consulting Co.
· TUNÇER, M., “Preserving KONYA, The Seljuk Capital”, ADA Kentliyim Review, May-June 1998, Number 14, Ankara, pp.72-75.
· ALKAN, A., “Planning Problems of Konya The Historic Town”, 1994, Konya.
· ERGENÇ, Ö., “Ankara and Konya In Years Between 1580-1596”, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Ankara, 1973.
· KARPUZ, H., “Historical and Physical Development of Konya Historical Trade Center”, Unpublished Research, 1996, Konya.
· ÖNDER, M., “Mevlana’s City Konya”, 1976, Ankara.

[1] Ass. Prof. in Urban Conservation, Fac. Of Arch., Dep. Urban & Regional Planning, Gazi University, Ankara, TURKEY.
This article published at, “ADA Kentliyim”, Monthly Review as “SELÇUK BAŞKENTİ KONYA’YI KORUMAK”. 1998, May.- Haz., 98

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