Photograph: Archive of the Department of Art History, Ege UniversityPhotograph: Archive of the Department of Art History, Ege UniversityPhotograph: Archive of the Department of Art History, Ege UniversityPhotograph: Archive of the Department of Art History, Ege UniversityPhotograph: Archive of the Department of Art History, Ege University

Name of Monument:

Karatay Madrasa


Konya, Turkey

Date of Monument:

Hegira 649 / AD 1251–2

Period / Dynasty:

Anatolian Seljuq


Celaleddin [Jalal al-Din] Karatay bin Abdullah, vizier of İzzeddin keykavus [‘Izz al-Din Kay Qawus] II.


Karatay Madrasa was built on a rectangular area measuring approximately 31.50 m x 26.50 m and oriented east to west. All the rooms are arranged around a dome-covered courtyard. The ruined students' cells on the north and south sides were rebuilt in the 1970s. The winter classroom in the northwest corner, as well as the rooms in the north and south corners of the east wing are in ruins
The entrance to the madrasa is at the south end of the east side. Contrary to custom, the portal is not in the middle of the wall, and its form and decoration differ from other portals of this period.
The courtyard at the centre of the building is covered by a dome. In the centre of the dome, a 5-m wide opening has been left to provide light and air. Below this opening, in the middle of the covered courtyard, is a square pool. Centrally placed at the west side of the courtyard is the main classroom, i.e. the iwan, and to either side of it are single winter classrooms. The classroom to the north of the iwan is in ruins, while the other one was converted into a tomb for Celaleddin [Jalal al-Din] Karatay, who built the madrasa. The iwan has a barrel vault, while the tomb has a dome. The students' cells situated north and south of the courtyard are also barrel-vaulted. The rooms on the entrance side of the madrasa are ruined.
The east side of the madrasa where the entrance is located is made of cut stone, while the other walls are made of rubble stone. Bricks have been used in the upper sections of the walls, in the dome's zone of transition and in the vaults.
In the madrasa, decoration can be seen to this day on the portal, the walls of the rooms facing the courtyard, the dome of the courtyard and the main iwan. The ornament on the portal consists of inscriptions and geometric and floral decoration executed in relief on marble. In addition, above and on both sides of the conch, the portal is decorated with interlacing geometric bands of grey and white marble. The decoration with swastika motifs on the panels flanking the portal is interesting. On the walls of the courtyard, its dome, and the main iwan there are both decorative tiles and tile mosaic. The traces which remain show that the main iwan and the lower part of the courtyard walls down to floor level were covered with hexagonal turquoise tiles. The tympana of the doorways and windows facing the courtyard, the upper part of the walls, the fan-shaped pendentives supporting the courtyard dome, the dome itself and the vault of the iwan have decoration in tile mosaic including inscriptions and floral and geometric motifs. The iwan is also adorned with relief-decorated tiles. The dome of the winter classroom which was converted into a tomb-chamber features unglazed bricks arranged in a herringbone pattern.

View Short Description

This madrasa's courtyard is covered with a dome. The first examples of madrasas were seen in the Transoxania and Khurasan regions and had a plan with an iwan in the middle of each side and other smaller rooms in between. The same layout is also observed in Anatolia where some examples have their courtyards covered with a dome or vault, which in addition has a cupola on the top providing light or ventilation.

How Monument was dated:

As indicated in the endowment charter of 25 Jumada I 651 (23 July 1253), the building was built as a madrasa in 649 / 1251–2. It continued to function as such until the beginning of the 20th century. In 1955, after the building had fallen into substantial disrepair, it was converted to become the Karatay Madrasa Tile Museum.

Selected bibliography:

Akok, M., “Konya Karatay Medresesi Röleve ve Mimarisi [Plan and Architecture of Karatay Madrasa in Konya]”, Türk Arkeoloji Dergisi [Turkish Review of Archaeology], XVIII–2 (1970), pp.5–28. Cantay, T., “Konya Karatay Medresesi'nin İnşa Tarihi ve Kapısının Mimari Kuruluşu [Construction Date and Portal Architecture of Karatay Madrasa in Konya]”, Rölöve ve Restorasyon Dergisi, 6 (1987), pp.25–30.
Erdemir, Y., Karatay Medresesi-çini Eserleri Müzesi [Karatay Madrasa – Tile Museum], Konya, 2001.
Kuran, A., Anadolu Medreseleri I [Anatolian Madrasas I], Ankara, 1969.
Sözen, M., Anadolu Medreseleri-Selçuklu ve Beylikler Devri [Anatolian Madrasas – Seljuq and Emirates Period], Vol. 2, Istanbul, 1972.

Citation of this web page:

Yekta Demiralp "Karatay Madrasa" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2022. 2022.;ISL;tr;Mon01;7;en

Prepared by: Yekta DemiralpYekta Demiralp

Yekta Demiralp is an assistant professor in the Department of Archaeology and History of Art, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir. He was born in Soğucak, Balıkesir, Turkey in 1959. He graduated from Ankara University, Faculty of Linguistics, History and Geography, Department of Art History in 1980. He worked as a teacher of history of art and then joined the Department of Archaeology and History of Art, Ege University, as an expert. He became a research assistant in the same department in 1988 and an assistant professor in 1997. He participates in Beçin excavations and has published on the history of Turkish architecture and 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 09


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