Religious Structures in Gaziantep

Gaziantep has a rich abundance of religious architecture. Of the 178 original religious structures in the city, only 34 survive today. Although not grand in their design, these structures display architectural features to be found only in Gaziantep mosques. These mosques are built primarily of keymih stone having crown doors decorated with propylite and carpin marble.

The mosques of Gaziantep were built by local craftsmen who were mostly Muslim. The name of the craftsman responsible for building or restoring a mosque can be found from different sources if no signature of or dedication was left behind. For example, Allaud Devle Mosque was restored by two craftsmen, Ermanak and Kirkor. Although there were Armenian craftsmen, especially in the second half of the 19th century, records show there were families who had worked as craftsmen for as long as seven generations, like Okkes Kuranel, who built the Sirvani Mosque.

Sirvani Mosque
sirvani_cami

It is thought that the Sirvani Mosque was built in the 14th or 15th century during the Dulkadiroglu and Mameluke period. Professor Nurset Cam believes this mosque was built prior to the Ottoman era since no records exist of such a mosque being built during that time. He also asserts that minarets having two balconies were only built during the Ottoman era. It is known that the mosque door was repaired in 1681 by Sirvani Mehmet Efendi. Although the Sirvani Mosque resembles a Tekke mosque, it has a sharp cone covering the balconies like an umbrella on a polygonal body, as seen in photographs taken in 1890 during the period of Abdulhamit. This minaret was rebuilt in 1947 and the mosque restored in 1960. It is believed that it was originally a Mevlevi Semahane based on information that an old Mevlevihane is mentioned in the Islamic registry and in other official records. Its classic Semahane plan also supports this belief. Moreover, in addition to the Muezzin’s balcony, there is a second raised balcony indicating that musicians once assembled there. The twin arched door is the sole example of its kind in Gaziantep. The moving pulpit, which slides over rails and is specific to Gaziantep, also has a special place in Turkish architecture.

 

Handaniye Mosque

“Hedef olmuştu düşmana meğer bu cami-i Rahman

Harabezara dönderdi Fransız eyledi viran.

Ahali himmetiyle oldu tamir “ba”gelip tarih

Basaret ehl-i İslama açıldı cami-i Handan 1956″

 

The epitaph above recounts how the Handaniye Mosque was damaged during the War of Independence by the French. A cannonball was fired into the Kiblah side of the mosque where it exploded inside, completely destroying the mosque. A woman who unfortunately was passing by at the moment was instantly killed in the blast. In her honor the street was renamed “First Cannonball Martyr Habba Street.”

The Handaniye Mosque was built by Handan Aga, son of Abdullah, Chamberlain of Zulkariye Governor, Mehmet Pasa. It is thought to have been built between 1575 and 1596. It was restored in 1797 by Had Abdullah and the minaret was added by his son Mustafa. The crown door of the mosque attracts the most attention with the beauty of its masonry art and relief work. Located above the crown door is the wooden Muezzin’s balcony with its beautifully woodworked platform. The muqarnas pendant in the center is carved from a single piece of solid wood. Two pulpits known as “mansions” and are entered from a staircase from inside the wall. Each side of the mihrab is decorated with black and white stone work. The stonemasonry of the minaret is very unique. The muqarnas which form the pendant section reinforcing the balcony gives a triangular appearance by opening upwards. Decorative ceramic plates are positioned underneath.

The builder of this mosque remains unknown today and there is inconsistent information as to the date of construction. When cross referencing previous Islamic registry records, the 1578 construction date as given by Evliya Celebi is found to be incorrect. The mosque was mentioned in the Islamic registry of 1558 and yet in another registry of 1580 it is stated that the mosque was repaired in that year. From inscriptions it is known that the mosque has been repaired a number of times – in 1790, 1805, 1958 and in 1983. The flat roof of the mosque has since been replaced by a tiled hip roof.

A rectangular wooden frame around the niche of the mihrab was damaged from oil paint. The corner spaces were decorated with Rumi patterns. In the center of the pulpit there is an octagonal panel made in the cage technique, which is similar to the shipman wheel design, which is full of patterns similar to butterflies.

Carefully observe the stone masonry work under the minaret. The underside of the umbrella coned balcony was built with thin muqarnas. Pendants are evenly spaced between each of the muqarnas with 12 ceramic plates in between. The balcony railings have 12 different geometrical patterns. This minaret carries all the characteristic features of the region.

 

Karagoz Mosque

 

Construction of the Karagoz Mosque was begun in 1756 and completed in 1758 by Batta Aga, a native of Gaziantep and grandfather of the famous Nuri Mehmet Pasha. It is said that the Karagoz Mosque was given its name by the Karagoz Turkmen group who were connected with the Beydili and Eymurlu clans living in Aleppo and Antep.

According to Islamic court registry records dated 1137, there was a sanctuary or prayer room known as Karagoz where the mosque now stands. This sanctuary was made into a mosque by Batta Aga and continued to be known by its name, Karagoz.

This is a small mosque with a parallel kiblah having little decoration and one nave. There is no decoration to the mihrab, which has a simple rounded niche. The wooden pulpit is also simple in design and decoration.

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The outer courtyard is divided in two by a short wall and is entered through a westward facing door. At one side of the courtyard near the mosque are colored stone decorations which can be found in other Gaziantep mosques.
In recent times, the mosque has been repaired on three occasions. In 1967, the outer stone facade were restored. In 1973, the courtyard door was restored and the interior walls were repaired. The pulpit was placed in its present location and the wood restored to its original color. It is thought that the upper meeting place located on the roof, now covered in concrete today, was originally covered in tamped soil over wooden beams. Karagoz Mosque has just one minaret located near the meeting place outside the mosque. It has a square shape up to and level with the roof of the mosque, where is continues up as a polygonal column to the minaret balcony. The barrier panels around the balcony are in cage worked, with each panel display a different geometric design. The minaret, which was not present in a photograph taken during the reign of Abdulhamit, was probably built between 1900 and 1920, judging by bullet traces on the stone.

 

Allauddevle Mosque

 

This mosque was built by Allauddevle Bozkurt Bey, who was the ruler of Dulkadirli from 1480 to 1515 and takes its name from him. It is also colloquially known as ‘Alidola’.

The original architect of this mosque is unknown, but records show that it was rebuilt by Armenak with Kirkor as his foreman. The Allauddevle Mosque collapsed and rebuilt over the years after 1898 by the nobles of Gaziantep. Local historian Hulusi Yetkin has this to say about the mosque: “The mosque was very old and in danger of collapse. The citizens gathered to collectively work to rebuild it. At that time the city of Antep was composed of 32 quarters.
At least 200 people from each quarter came accompanied by drums, clarions and flags. They worked until the evening and then went home. At that time I was 12 years old and I also attended the festivities and worked.”

The rectangular mosque has a circular arch over the entrance with a flat roof. The crown door is the only example in Gaziantep built with a combined style that was influenced from the west at the beginning of the 20th century.

The minaret, located on the east side of the mosque at a distance of half a meter away, is the only surviving section of the original structure has not been rebuilt. It is placed on a square base and has a circular body rising up to the umbrella. The original muqarnas which had three parts was removed in 1990. This restoration cost the minaret its most defining characteristic. The present day balcony now has a simple stone barrier.
It is also known that the original mosque once had a reflecting pool. In 1721, a dome on a high polygonal base was added to the mosque by Had Osman Aga, who was the son of Ahmet Aga. It is the biggest dome among the Gaziantep mosques. The square interior is covered in white face stone.

The black and white stone walls of the structure display various different architectural characteristics. A cornice level with the overhang divides the building in two horizontally and is the only example of such a feature in Gaziantep.

The mihrab consists of a half-circle niche with double white columns on either side. Inscriptions found on them today were not present in the former mosque. There are two balconies, the one to east has a chair for the Imam and to the west serves as a pulpit. Both balconies are designed in the “mansion” style and are reached by means of a ladder inside the wall.

Boyaci Mosque (Kebir and Kadi Kemalettin Mosque)

 

There is no indication of the date of construction in the inscriptions of the Boyaci Mosque, also known as Kebir and Kadi Kemalettin Mosque. From an inscription on the crown door it is thought the mosque may have been built at the beginning of the 13th century.

In 1572, during the time of Mehmet Pasha, the mosque was restored under the direction of Emir Bey.

In an inscription dated 1575, it is stated that the craftsman of the wooden doors to the sanctuary was Had Mahmud, son of Muhsin. Both the east and north doors were restored in 1956 and repaired in 1975 and 1976.
A gathering place for women to worship was built at the north-east edge of the sanctuary a few years ago. The outer courtyard was paved with black, white and red stones and is divided into two sections by a low wall. The north crown door is higher than the courtyard door. It is understood from its veil of muqarnas that the west crown door was once a magnificent structure, but over time has lost many of its former features.
The minaret of the Boyaci Mosque has an octagonal body with the base of the balcony on a three sectioned muqarnas. It has a wooden roof covered with a metal zinc coated umbrella. There is a metal flag inscribed with “Kelime-i Tevhid” and two dragons on both sides, believed to be from the former minaret.
Haci Nasir Mosque

This building was built in 1570 originally a prayer room that was later converted into a mosque with the addition of a pulpit in 1680. In 1812 the mosque took its current form.

During the War of Independence, the mosque suffered serious damage and was repaired in 1923. The cone section of the minaret had collapsed and was rebuilt with the help of the local people. This minaret has a serpentine design and is one of the special minarets in Gaziantep. There is a large open niche edged with pink and black decorative stone work situated between two wooden balconies that are accessed by a stair case behind the wall. The muezzin’s pulpit is located above the door as it is in other Gaziantep mosques. The cameos of decorative calligraphy are the finest surviving examples in the city.

According to writings of Prof. Nusret Cam, there was a green and red colored flag embroidered with gold thread that was used during the War of Independence that was kept in this mosque, but has since been lost.

Mosque and Social Complex
Mevlevihane
Haci Nasir Mosque

This mosque complex was built by Mustafa Aga, who was a native Turkmen ruler, in 1638. The complex consisted of a fruit orchard, barn, I 20 shops and a paint studio. Other sections included a semahane and mosque where daily prayers were performed, dervish rooms, sheik’s residence and a fountain.

Although the Tekke Mosque resembles a typical semahane, it lacks a central meeting place and suffering lodges. It is a very simple structure. The entrance door has a moulding consisting of a five fingered pattern design on all sides. This design is the only example of its kind in Gaziantep. There is a mihrab with fine muqarnas worked on the inside. The minaret is short with a circular column. The mosque was entered after passing under the minaret which was covered with a wooden umbrella. Two fires that occurred in a neighboring wheat field in 1901 and 1903, necessitated the rebuilding of the Mevlevihane, under the patronage of Sheik Munip Effendi.

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