historically ICONIUM, lies at an elevation of
about 3,370 feet (1,027 m) on the southwest edge of the central Anatolian
Plateau and is surrounded by a narrow, fertile plain. It is backed by
Bozkir Mountain on the west and enclosed by the interior edges of the
central Taurus ranges further south. The southwestern part of the city
has been redesigned, and a wide avenue leads through the western suburbs
to the railway station, but the old city still survives to the east of
Konya is one of the oldest urban centres in the
world; excavations in Alaeddin Hill in the middle of the city indicate
settlement dating from at least the 3rd millennium BC. According to a Phrygian legend of
the great flood, Konya was the first city to rise after the deluge that destroyed
humanity. Still another legend ascribes its ancient name to the eikon (image), or the
gorgon's head, with which Perseus vanquished the native population before founding the
After the collapse of the Hittite empire, the Phrygians
established a large settlement there. It was Hellenized gradually from the 3rd century BC
and became a self-governing city, largely Greek in language, education, and culture. Some
of the citizens, however, retained their Phrygian culture, and it was probably among them
that the Jewish community stirred up opposition to the Apostle Paul on his first visit in
AD 47 or 48; he returned in 50 and 53. Iconium, included in the Roman province of Galatia
by 25 BC, was raised to the status of a colony by the emperor Hadrian in AD 130 and became
the capital of the province of Lycaonia about 372.
Located near the frontier, Iconium was subject to Arab
incursions from the 7th to the 9th centuries. It was taken from the Byzantine Empire by
the emerging Seljuq Turks in 1072 or 1081 and soon became the capital of the Seljuq
sultanate of Rum. Renamed Konya, it reached its greatest prosperity under their rule and
was accounted one of the most brilliant cities of the world. Its enlightened rulers were
great builders and patrons of art who endowed the city with many buildings, including some
of the finest existing examples of Seljuq art. Now used as museums, these include the Ince
Minare (built 1258), a former theological college housing the Seljuq Museum;
the richly decorated Karatay Medrese (1251), a former
theological school that now houses a ceramics museum; and the Sirçali Medrese
(1242), which now contains a museum of Seljuq and Ottoman antiquities. The palace of the
sultans stands on the acropolis mound. Nearby are the mosque and tomb of Sultan 'Ala`
ad-Din Kay-Qubad I, at whose invitation the Muslim Sufi (mystic) Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi
settled in Konya and later founded the Mawlawiyah (Mevleviye) order of mystics, known in
the West as the "Whirling Dervishes." The tekke
("monastery") of Rumi, comprising a number of buildings and his mausoleum, lies
south of the city centre; since 1917 it has been used as an Islamic museum.
After the decline of the Seljuqs, Konya was ruled by the
Il-Khanid Mongols and later by the Turkmen principality of Karaman until it was finally
annexed to the Ottoman Empire about 1467. The city was in decline during the Ottoman
period but revived after 1896, largely through the building of the Istanbul-Baghdad
railway, which passes through Konya. Improvements in the irrigation of the
Çarsamba plain led to an increase in agricultural productivity. Until 1923 Konya was the
most important city of central Anatolia, overshadowing Ankara. Present industries include
a sugar-beet plant, flour mills, and carpet factories. Bauxite deposits were tapped by an
aluminium-manufacturing complex established in the early 1970s. Konya is also the site of
a teacher-training school; Yüksek Islam Institute, an institute of Islamic learning
founded in 1962; and Selçuk University, established in 1975.
With its orchards, gardens, and monuments, modern Konya
attracts a growing tourist trade. Its association with the Dervishes makes it a place of
pilgrimage for Muslims. Christian monuments include the old church of Amphilochius inside
the city and several shrines nearby. The city is linked by air with Ankara and by road
with the principal urban centres of Turkey.
The surrounding area, consisting of plains at the base of
the Taurus Mountains, has numerous oases, and irrigation schemes have further extended the
amount of cultivated land. Wheat and cotton are the main crops grown on the plains. North
of the city, the bare Anatolian steppe provides spring pasture and supports some dry
farming. The products of the steppe include wool and livestock. Lead is also mined in the
vicinity. Pop. (1990 prelim.) city, 509,208.
Major Neolithic site in the Middle East,
located near Konya in south-central Turkey. It is in Cumra District borders. Excavations
(1961-65) by the British archaeologist James Mellaart have shown that Anatolia in
Neolithic times was the centre of an advanced culture. The earliest building period at
Çatalhüyük is tentatively dated to about 6700 BC and the latest to about 5650 BC. The
inhabitants lived in rectangular mud-brick houses probably entered from roof level,
presumably by a wooden ladder. In addition to a hearth and an oven, houses had platforms
for sleeping, sitting, or working. Edible grains and oil-producing seeds and nuts were
extensively cultivated, and animal husbandry was probably practiced.
Excavation of the religious quarter produced a series of
shrines with wall paintings of exceptional brilliance. These are of interest for their
link with Upper Paleolithic art.
Floor covering handwoven in or near the city of Konya,
south-central Turkey, former capital of the Seljuq sultanate of Rum. The tradition of
carpet weaving in Konya goes back at least to the 13th century, when the Italian traveler Marco
Polo reported that the best and most beautiful carpets in the world were
made in this area. Seven extant fragments of fine Konya carpets may date from that time.
The 19th-century rugs ascribed to this neighbourhood are undistinguished. One series of
red, green, and yellow prayer rugs showing an arcade of three stilted arches above slender
columns constitutes the latest, most debased version of the column Lâdiks, a type of
prayer rug distinguished by the decorative use of an architectural motif.
"Iconium" of the Roman
times is 263 kms from Ankara. The land is a wide plateau and has been continuously
inhabited even extending back to the 8th millenium BC.
Catalhoyuk is an ancient city of
that period which is considered to be one of the first settlement areas in the
world accommodating one of the earliest human communities. Made up of mud
houses, which were entered through holes in the roofs, this site is a real place of
interest where you can feel the life prevailing, many years ago. The finds from the
district, including the cult figures of the famous temple and the mother goddess, together
with old frescoes, are now on display in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.
In the environs of Konya, there also exist sites which hold
some remains from the Hittites. Ivriz is one, 168 kms east of
Konya, which is one of the finest neo-Hittite reliefs in the country, representing a king
and the fertility god of the time. Eflatun Pinar is another
important sight, which is a monument fountain from the time of the Hittites, constituting
a holy place of the period.
Mevlana Mauseleum, Konya
When the Byzantines came into power, Konya became an
independent province and was given the name "Lycanoia." A Byzantine church and
several rock chapels filled with beautiful frescoes can be seen in the town of Sille, 8
kms northwest of Konya, where the first rock carved monasteries of the world were built.
During the 12th and 13th centuries, the city acted as the
capital of the Seljuk Turks and advanced rapidly to become a great cultural center.
The most famous building here is the Green
Mausoleum of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, the great Turkish philosopher and poet.
He is the founder of the sect of Whirling Dervishes, the
seminary that was attached to the mausoleum. It has been converted into a museum housing
Mevlana's works, and accoutrements related to his sect. Every year in December, ceremonies
are held in Konya or the commemoration of Mevlana and the Whirling Dervishes. In this Dervish
Festival, the "Sema" dance is performed
by men dressed in white robes, whirling and rotating around the floor. This dance, in
which the dancer with the great love of God is believed to attain divine unity, is an
event well worth seeing.
On Alaeddin Hill in this region is the Alaeddin mosque and
palace, which are fine 13th century monuments built during the reign of the famous Seljuk
Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat.
Karatay Medrese, constructed in
1251, stands to the north of this hill, and is now a museum which holds the best examples
of Seljuk tiles and ceramics. The Ince Minareli Medresse with
its fascinating monumental portal, the Sircali Medresse, and the Iplikci Mosque are other
Seljuk works in the city.
Beysehir, 94 kms west of Konya, was founded on the shores
of Lake Beysehir, the third largest lake in the country. There are the attractive Seljuk
monuments of Esrefoglu Mosque and its medresse and the Kubad-Abad Summer Palace.
Of particular interest is the town of Aksehir with its
remains from the 13th century, the Ulu Mosque, the Sahip Ata
Mausoleum and the Altinkale Mescid. This land, 130 km northwest of Konya, is the
birthplace of the famous Turkish humorist Nasreddin Hoca, whose mausoleum is here.
The various museums, comprising rich collections of
historical finds, are other interesting sights in Konya. Especially of interest is the
Archaeological Museum which should be visited for its charming pieces, including the
Sidemara Sarcophagus. The Koyunoglu Museum, with the Izzettin Koyunoglu House inside it,
constitutes a beautiful complex; the Ethnographical Museum and Ataturk's House are also at
the service of history lovers.