Isa Bey Mosque
Selçuk, İzmir, Turkey
Hegira 10 Shawwal 775 / AD 13 March 1375
Architect: Ali ibn el Dımışki [‘Ali ibn al-Dimashqi].
Aydınoğlu Beylik (Emirate)
Aydınoğlu Isa Bey (r. 761–92 / 1360–90), son of Mehmed Bey, founder of the Aydınoğlu Emirate.
Founded on a hillside in Selçuk, the Isa Bey Mosque occupies an area of approximately 48.68 m x 56.53 m and comprises a prayer hall of two aisles extending laterally, with a rectangular courtyard adjoining it to the north. The east, west and north walls of the courtyard each have a portal. Minarets once rose above the east and west portals, the former of which does not survive. The topography of the site influenced the design of the north and east sides of the building, whose plain walls have few windows. The west and south walls, on the other hand, have two rows of windows. The staircases leading to the west gate are flanked with niches in the wall.
Remnants suggest that the courtyard, which adjoins the north of the prayer hall, had porticoes on three sides and had a fountain. Today only the re-used columns survive from these porticoes. The prayer hall is entered through a triple opening in the middle of the north wall. The entrance is flanked by a pointed arched opening on either side; closed off with glass panes today. The rectangular prayer hall is divided into two aisles running parallel to the mihrab wall and a transverse aisle running perpendicular to it. The side aisles are covered with a pitched roof while the transverse aisle has two domes. The pointed arches, made of brick, divide the prayer hall into two aisles and rest on four granite columns. Three of these monumental columns are topped by muqarnas capitals, the fourth by a re-used capital. The middle two support identical arches which extend to the north and south walls, forming the transverse aisle, which is covered by two domes resting on octagonal drums supported by pendentives.
The north, south and east walls are built, not too carefully, of ashlar, limestone and re-used marble. The monumental west wall, distinguished from the other walls by its design, workmanship and materials, features a portal and two rows of windows, notable for their craftsmanship. The windows, of different dimensions and style, are elaborately decorated with muqarnas, knotwork, inlaid coloured stone and interlace patterns. The marble and coloured-stone decoration on the windows is also used on the fine, tall portal in this wall. Sadly, the rich decoration of the interior has not survived. Today only the geometric compositions, found in the tile mosaic on the pendentives of the dome in front of the mihrab, remain. The original stone mihrab and minbar are also gone.
The Isa Bey Mosque has an important place in Anatolian Turkish architecture, both for its plan and for its decoration. While its plan recalls the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, the coloured-stone decoration in the portal and windows shows the influence of works from the Zangid and Mamluk periods. These details are connected to the fact that the architect, Ali ibn el Dımışki ['Ali ibn al-Dimashqi], was a Syrian from Damascus. The Isa Bey Mosque is a rare example of Beylik (Emirates)-period architecture seen most clearly in its courtyard with porticoes on three sides, one of the first such examples from before the Ottoman period, and its two minarets.
Modern Selçuk is the medieval Ayasuluğ and the ancient Ephesus. The town was an important centre of the Aydın Emirate and served as its capital from AH 748 to 792 / AD 1348 to 1390. Built by architect Ali of Damascus on the order of Isa Bey, son of Mehmed Bey, in 775 / 1375, the mosque is an important example of 8th- / 14th-century architecture in its plan and decoration. The structure is noteworthy for its layout, which recalls the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus and the Great Mosque of Diyarbakır, and its coloured-stone decoration, which displays Zangid and Mamluk influence.
According to the inscription on the west portal, the architect Ali ibn el Dımışki was ordered by Aydınoğlu Isa Bey to build the mosque on 10 Shawwal 775 / 13 March 1375.
Ertuğrul, S., “îsâ Bey Camii [The İsa Bey Mosque]”, Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı İslâm Ansiklopedisi, [Encyclopaedia of Islam, the Foundation of Religious Affairs of Turkey] 22, 2000, pp.476–8.
Kuyulu, İ., “İsa Bey Camii”, Erken Osmanlı Sanatı, Beyliklerin Mirası, [Early Ottoman Art: The Legacy of the Emirates], Madrid, 1999, pp.60–61.
Ogan, A., “Aydın Oğullarından İsa Bey Camii [The Mosque of İsa Bey of Aydınoğlus]”, Vakıflar Dergisi, III, 1956, pp.73–80.
Otto-Dorn, K., Die Isa Bey Moschee in Ephesus, Istanbuler Forschungen XVII, 1950, pp.115–31.
İnci Kuyulu Ersoy "Isa Bey Mosque" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021. 2021. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;tr;Mon01;11;en
Prepared by: İnci Kuyulu Ersoyİnci Kuyulu Ersoy
İnci Kuyulu Ersoy is Head of Western and Contemporary Art, Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir. She was born in Nazilli, Turkey, in 1957. She graduated from TED Ankara College in 1976 and from Hacettepe University, Social and Management Sciences Faculty, Department of History of Art in 1980. She received her MA in 1982 and her Ph.D. in 1989 from Ankara University, Faculty of Linguistics and History-Geography, Department of Art History.
She was appointed as research assistant to the Department of Art History, Ege University. She became assistant professor in 1989, associate professor in 1994 and full professor in 2000 at the same university. She is also Head of Turkish Art History at the Institute for Research on the Turkic World. She has researched and published widely on Turkish art.
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 GomezMandi Gomez
Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.
True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.
MWNF Working Number: TR 17
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Ottomans | Turkish-Islamic Art in Pre-Ottoman Anatolia
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