Photograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Archive of the Department of Art History, Ege UniversityPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet KoştumoğluPhotograph: Mehmet Koştumoğlu


Name of Monument:

Great Mosque (Ulu Cami)

Location:

In the old city, Diyarbakır, Turkey

Date of Monument:

Hegira first half of the 5th century / AD 11th century

Period / Dynasty:

Anatolian Seljuq / Artuqid

Description:

The Great Mosque of Diyarbakır shows close parallels with the layout of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. The mosque, together with its courtyard and the adjoining theological school (madrasa), covers a square area of approximately 75 m. The western side of the quadrangular courtyard is uneven due to the loss of an original alleyway. The prayer hall is located to the south of the courtyard, which is flanked by two-storied porticoes on the west and east. On the north, separated from one another by a narrow passageway, are the Masjid (small mosque) of the Shafi'is (a sect of Sunni Islam) and the Mesudiye Madrasa. The prayer hall is 75 m long and 17 m wide on the outside. The minaret adjoins the southern wall on the outside. The square, tower-like minaret is crowned with a cylindrical section and a conical roof.
The prayer hall has three aisles running east to west, separated from each other by two rows of piers, each measuring 90 cm x 115 cm. The oblong prayer hall has an almost 11-m wide transverse aisle in the middle, terminating in the south at the mihrab and the minbar. The prayer hall is covered with a pitched roof, with the roof of the transverse aisle rising above it. The roof's exterior is sheathed with lead plates. The northern façade of the prayer hall is decorated with garland and meander motifs. The pointed arch above the lintel of one of the doorways is flanked with two small mihrab niches with prismatic engaged colonnettes and oyster-shell conches. On top of the walls is an eave built of basalt.
The two-storied eastern portico of the courtyard has columns with Corinthian capitals on each storey. While the upper columns are single units, the lower ones are formed of two or three shafts of varying sizes. In contrast to the eastern wing, the western wing has mouldings on the outer sides of the arches of the lower tier. All the columns of the upper storey are single units decorated with various geometric motifs.
On the spandrels of the eastern gate to the courtyard are two animal combat scenes, carved symmetrically in relief. In the middle of the inscription panel above the doorway arch is a damaged carving of a lion's head, and the decorative band framing the entryway has palmette motifs. The painted decoration inside the prayer hall was done during the restoration of AH 1124 / AD 1712.
The mosque makes use of spolia that dates to the Roman and Byzantine periods. The Corinthian capitals, the blocks forming the eaves and some of the decorative bands can be dated to the 4th century AD. Apart from the re-used ancient materials, it is clear that the entire structure was built in the Islamic period; however, there is an apparent clash of historical styles among its sections.
The outer faces of the walls are faced with basalt with bands of limestone here and there.
The structure was originally built as a mosque and is still used as a place of worship today.

View Short Description

The Great Mosque of Diyarbakır with its transverse aisle and courtyard is one of the most important early Islamic monuments erected in Anatolia. The floral and geometric decorations on the eastern and western porticoes of the courtyard as well as the figurative decorations flanking the eastern portal are important evidence for a Turkish–Islamic synthesis. Some of the decorations are found on Roman and Byzantine spolia that have been reused.

How Monument was dated:

There is no inscription extant from the original construction. All the existing inscriptions refer to repairs made at various times. The oldest inscription, found on the western façade of the prayer hall facing the courtyard, names Malik Shah and gives a date of 484 / 1091–2. Mattheos (Matthew) of Urfa (Edessa) writes in his chronicle that the structure was badly damaged in a fire in 509 / 1115–16. All this information, as well as the architectural properties of the building, suggests a date in the first half of the 5th / 11th century.

Selected bibliography:

Aslanapa, O., and Diez E., Türk Sanatı [Turkish Art], Istanbul, 1955.
Gabriel, A., Voyages archéologiques dans la Turquie orientale, I, Paris, 1940.
Sözen, M., “Diyarbakır: Its History, Settlement Plan and Problems”, Urbanism in Islam, (Icuıt II), Tokyo 1994, pp.123–34.
Yinanç, M. H., “Diyarbakır”, İslam Ansiklopedisi [Encyclopaedia of Islam], Vol. 3, 1945, pp.610–26.

Citation of this web page:

Ertan Daş "Great Mosque (Ulu Cami)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2022. 2022. https://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;tr;Mon01;1;en

Prepared by: Ertan DaşErtan Daş

Dr Ertan Daş is an assistant professor in the Department of Archaeology and Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir. Born in Afyon, Turkey, in 1963, he graduated from that department, in 1986 and started working there as an expert in 1988. He completed his MA at the same university in 1997 with a thesis entitled “Turkish Monuments in Afyon”, and received his Ph.D. with a thesis entitled “Early Ottoman Turbes in Anatolia (1300–1500)” in 2001. He has published on the burial traditions of Turks, turbes (mausoleums) and tombstones, and onTurkish architecture including hans (inns), hammams (bath-houses) and mosques.

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 01

RELATED CONTENT

Related monuments

 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period

Artuqids

Seljuqs (Anatolian)


On display in


Download

As PDF (including images) As Word (text only)