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, 2021. 2021.;ISL;tr;Mon01;7;en

Prepared by: Yekta Demiralp
Translation by: Barry Wood, İnci Türkoğlu
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: TR 09