Ilyas Bey Complex
Within the ruins of ancient Miletos (Palatia) open-air museum, Balat, Söke, Aydın, Turkey
Hegira Dhu’l-Qa‘da 806 / May–June 1404
Şücaeddin [Shuja‘ al-Din] İlyas Bey (r. AH 805–27 / AD 1402–24).
The important Ionian city known in antiquity as Miletos (Palatia) became part of the Menteshe Emiratein the first half of the 7th / 13th century under the name of Balat. In AH 793 / AD 1391 the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I (known as Yıldırım, 'the Thunderbolt') added this emirate to Ottoman lands. After his defeat by Timur at the Battle of Ankara in AH 805 / AD 1402, the Menteshe Emirate was restored and Balat became its capital.
Balat, founded on ancient Miletos, saw many buildings built in the Menteshe period. The most important of these is the mosque complex with a theological school (madrasa) and two public baths or hammams, built immediately after Ilyas Bey returned to the throne in 1402.
The mosque and madrasa, built in a broad walled garden, share a common courtyard. In the northwest area of the madrasa are the remains of a structure whose function remains uncertain. Archaeological excavations in 1994 revealed the foundations of rooms belonging to another madrasa which was later added to the complex, extending parallel to the garden wall on the west of the existing madrasa. Two hammams accepted as being part of the original complex are located to the northeast of the madrasa.
The Ilyas Bey Mosque has a square plan of approximately 18 m x 18 m and is surmounted by a dome 14 m in diameter. The walls are covered with re-used marble slabs, while the dome is built with brick. There is no portico for latecomers. The minaret at the northwest corner, which is reached from inside, collapsed in an earthquake in 1955. The mosque is entered through an iwan-portal in the middle of the north wall. The iwan is divided into an arcade of three flat-top (Bursa) arches by way of two marble columns; the wide central arch is the entrance, while the two side arches contain marble balustrades and serve as windows. The building's dome is supported by large squinches. These are decorated with oyster-shell motifs, triangles and muqarnas.
The Ilyas Bey Mosque is noteworthy for its rich stonework decoration. Floral and geometric motifs and inscriptions, both carved and inlaid, appear on the portal and mihrab as well as on the tympana of each window in the east, west and south walls. The inlaid decoration includes coloured stone and tiles.
The madrasa, which shares the courtyard with the mosque, was built with rough stone. It consists of a domed classroom and 12 students' cells, which traces reveal to have been covered with flat wooden ceilings.
The two hammams to the northeast of the mosque and madrasa have walls of rough stone, together with domes and vaults of brick. The Large Baths (Büyük Hammam) on the north, whose changing-room was discovered during excavations in 1991, has a hot room with three iwans and two corner chambers. The walls of the hot room have decoration in moulded plaster. The Küçük Hammam (Small Baths), 2-m south of the Büyük Hammam, consists of three small rooms arranged side by side. The complex is open to visitors.
The Ilyas Bey complex in Balat, the last capital of the Menteshe Emirate, comprises a mosque, a madrasa and two hammams (bathhouses). In spite of the plainness of the madrasa and the hammams, the mosque of the complex is one of the most striking examples of architecture from the Emirates period. The portal, mihrab and windows are lavishly decorated with floral and geometric motifs and calligraphic bands, carved and inlayed.
The inscription above the arch in the middle of the portal includes the patron's name and the date construction began, which according to the inscription was at the behest of Şücaeddin İlyas Bey in Dhu'l-Qa'da 806 / May–June 1404. Some researchers have claimed to have read the name of a master 'Nasreddin [Nasr al-Din] Altana' in the niche of the mihrab, but this cannot be discerned at present.
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Şakir Çakmak "Ilyas Bey Complex" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;tr;Mon01;10;en
Prepared by: Şakir ÇakmakŞakir Çakmak
Dr Şakir Çakmak is an assistant professor in the Department of Archaeology and Art History of the Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir. Born in Sarayköy, Turkey, in 1964, he graduated from that department in 1986. He started working as a research assistant in the same department in 1988. He completed his MA in 1991 with a thesis entitled “Turkish Monuments in Denizli Province (Mosques)” and his Ph.D. with the thesis “Portals in the Early Ottoman Period (1300–1500)” in 1999.
Translation by: Barry WoodBarry Wood
Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions., İnci Türkoğluİnci Türkoğlu
İnci Türkoğlu has been working as a tourist guide and freelance consultant in tourism and publishing since 1993. She was born in Alaşehir, Turkey, in 1967. She graduated from the English Department of Bornova Anatolian High School in 1985 and lived in the USA for a year as an exchange student. She graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, and the professional tourist guide courses of the Ministry of Tourism in 1991. She worked as an engineer for a while. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, in 1997 with an undergraduate thesis entitled “Byzantine House Architecture in Western Anatolia”. She completed her Master's at the Byzantine Art branch of the same department in 2001 with a thesis entitled “Synagogue Architecture in Turkey from Antiquity to the Present”. She has published on art history and tourism.
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: TR 16
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Ottomans | Turkish-Islamic Art in Pre-Ottoman Anatolia
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