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Ulucamii (Adana)

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Title: Ulucamii (Adana)  
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Subject: Adana Province, Seyhan
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Ulucamii (Adana)

Ulu Cami (Adana)
Basic information
Location Turkey Adana, Turkey
Geographic coordinates 36°59′06″N 35°19′51″E / 36.98500°N 35.33083°E / 36.98500; 35.33083Coordinates: 36°59′06″N 35°19′51″E / 36.98500°N 35.33083°E / 36.98500; 35.33083

Affiliation Islam
Region Mediterranean
Status Active
Architectural description
Architectural type Mosque
Groundbreaking 1513
Completed 1541
Minaret(s) 1

Ulu Cami (English: The Grand Mosque) külliye, enclosed within a high wall in the old town, stands to be the most interesting medieval structure of Adana, with the mosque, madrasah and türbe.[1] It is located on Kızılay street, next to Ramazanoğlu Hall.


The construction of Ulu Cami started in 1513 by Ramazanoğlu Halil Bey. It was completed by his successor, his son, Piri Mehmet Paşa and opened to service in 1541. Until the construction of Sabancı Merkez Camii, Ulu Cami kept the title to be the largest mosque of Adana for 450 years.It was damaged in 1998 Adana-Ceyhan earthquake and closed to service immediately after. Its restoration is carried by the General Directorate of the Foundations (Vakıflar Genel Müdürlüğü) from 1998 to 2004 and it was re-opened to service in 2004.[2]

The mosque

The building carries features of Mamluk, Seljuk and the Ottoman architecture, as understood from its three inscriptions. As the west entrance of the main building resembles difference from the part that was built by Ramazanoğlu Halil Bey and the construction technique being from the earlier centuries, it is possible to date back the history of the building. The stalactite conical roof that rises step by step above the entrance has the features of Seljukid architecture. This gives an indication that Ramadanids, who were a small beylik (emirate) in the early 16th century, built a small masjid first, but then built the main building beside it, when the beylik expanded and the masjid could not meet the needs.

Ulu Cami, as a whole, has the dimensions of 34.5 x 32.5 m, a rectangle that is close to a square. The entrance to the courtyard is through the two large gates on the west and the east. Besides the main praying area, part of the courtyard is covered with wooden roof and thus serves as a final congregation area to accommodate a larger community and also to create an outdoor area for praying in summers. At the east side of the court entrance and at the side of the main hall, the black and white marble panels adds color to the view. The outline of the semi-sharp arches are decorated with stalaktite and flower motif.[3]

The main praying hall, that is seated on the width of the rectangular plan, forms two nave with the four columns that are situated parallel to the qibla wall and the columns are tied to each other with semi-sharp arches. The mosques is famous with the mihrab that is framed with black marbles and especially with the 16th and 17th century Iznik tilings that cover the qibla walls.

Its minaret is a unique sample with the Mamluk effects it bears and with its orthogonal plan scheme. On the exterior of the minaret, stones of two different colors are used.


Madrasah of Ulu Camii is on the east of the mosque and noted in the ancient records as the 'Old Madrasah'.

The madrasah, with the simple and clear stonework, and with the fountain built on 8-column pyramidal roof fountain, has a spacious look. Because of a little masjid squeezed on its northwest corner and an unrelated building placed beside, it does not provide a well-planned and a monumental view.

There are dervish cells on the east, west and south side of the nearly square courtyard, that has a side dimension of 23m. On the northside of the courtyard there is the divanhane (main classroom) covered with back to back two domes. The outer length of the madrasah from east to west is 32.8m.

The west gate, built higher than the cells, has a simple architecture and leads to the courtyard through a short hallway with a cradle vault. The two cells on the south side of the entrance are thought to be the kitchen of the madrasah, now used as toilet. The smaller cell, like all the other dervish cells on the qibla wing, has a crenel window, fireplace and cabinet niche and has the dimensions of 3x3.85m. On the other hand, the qibla cells are smaller than the cells on the west side and have a square plan (2.7x2.7).

At the east wing, except the ones at the corner, the cells have the same width with the cells on the south wing. Like the others, the cells are covered with cradle vaults from inside and with grooved bricks outside. There are two extra niche on the corner cell and one extra on the third and fifth cells from south. At the cells on the qibla wing, there are two windows that face the courtyard and the street.

The most interesting part of the madrasah is the classroom which is made up of two lined up domes with sharp arches and pendentive. The classroom has outer dimensions of 9x11.9m. Although the classrooms at the Turkish madrasah of Seljuk era and after were built with vault or as a single hall with a dome, the reason that it was built in rectangle shape with two lined up domes at this madrasah can be explained in terms of reducing the effects of the hot weather. The rims of the domes are not high. White and red stones were used in sequence on the front sharp arch of the hall.[4]

Rear walls at the east wing, chimney and the north part of the classroom is made of brick, the rest of the madrasah is made of white hewn stone. Although the inner walls of the cells are coated with plaster, the outer surfaces are not.

The design of the classroom as a back to back two domed space and the U-shape line up of the dervish cells around the courtyard distinguishes the Ulu Cami madrasah from Seljukid and Ottoman madrasah. Being the oldest among the Ramazanoğlu madrasah, another distinctive feature, similar to Yağ Camii madrasah, is the stone walls of the classroom front and the brick walls of the rear. The geometric decorations on the west window of the classroom is exactly the same as the geometric decorations of the arches at the entrance of the mosque.


The portal niche of the madrasah is decorated with a beveled molding which make a knot on a pillar and keystone on both sides. The surrounding of the inscription is decorated with palmets (fan shaped glyph) and small badges. The second of the two rectangular windows on the east and the west walls of the hall is framed with geometrically patterned molding that forms with the intersection of thread line with checker and six-armed stars that have flower with six leaves at the center. Ornaments of the window on the east wall is not completed.

Inscription and Chronogram

The only inscription of the madrasah is written in two lines thuluth calligraphy on the crown gate. Inscription is;

"This holy madrasah was built by the son of Halil Bey, Piri, in need of Allah's mercy, on the year nine forty seven, in the middle of the month of Muharram, during the reign of the greatest and the most eminent Shah Sultan Süleyman - Allah last his estate - for the sake of Allah."

As indicated clearly on the inscription, the madrasah was completed in May, 1540. Although the builder of the madrasah is known as Ramazanoğlu Piri Pasha, the architect is unknown.

Türbe of Ramadanids

Türbe (English: Tomb) of Ramadanids, with its tall rims and tall dome giving grandeur to it, hosts sarcophagi of Halil Bey and the sons of Piri Paşa, Mehmet Bey and Mustafa Bey. The walls of the türbe are covered with tilings.

Ulu Cami Türbesi, unlike most Seljukid türbes, is built east of the mosque and although situated next to the mosque, is not integrated to it. The structure covers an area of 5.5 × 6.1 meters. Türbe is composed of a dome covered upper section containing sarcopahi and an entrance section covered with a cross vault. The entrance section is connected to the mosque with an intermediate door and to türbe with another door.

There is a window on the east wall. Further north, the shed, that is built on mukarnas headed four columns, is covered with a wooden roof resulting from the cradle vault perpendicularly cutting the half-transverse vault.

The sharp dome of the türbe with a polygon rim and the triangle inference is similar to the dome at the mosque's mihrab front. Window with a coloured glass is placed on each of its 12 edges and unlike the mihrab's front dome, black stone is not used.

Türbe walls are thick as the walls of the mosque (1.1 m), the difference from the mosque's qibla walls is the yellowish stones. It is also distinctive with being built completely by the fine shaped stones, unlike the mosque walls, which are built with rough stones in the middle and fine shaped stones surrounding. This indicates that the mosque and the türbe were built with a 3–5 year gap.

The sarcophagi are covered with 16th century tilings. On the front side of the sarcophagi there are inscriptions on the tilings. The inscriptions being written in the same type shows that they are all written after March 1552.

Other than the Ulu Cami Türbesi and the Yeşil Türbe in Bursa, there is no other sample of a türbe that is covered with tilings. Türbes are usually built this way in Central Asia, thus the Ulu Cami Türbesi is reminiscent of the Central Asian türbes.

Türbe outside the Külliye

There is also a türbe south of the mosque that stands as an independent structure. It is a hexagon, covered with high domes. Since there are no inscriptions on the sarcophagi inside the türbe, the people staying there and the date it was built are unknown. As it is only 2 meters away from the türbe of Ulucamii, it is thought that the sarcophagi belong to members of Ramadanid family. The türbe is built in baroque style, thus indicating that it was built towards the end of the 18th century.


See also


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