Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

Heritage by Country / Turkey

Cifte Minareli Madrasa

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Cifte Minareli Madrasa

About the site

Corridor: Diagonal Road
Country: Turkey, Erzurum
Type: Islamic religious centre
Epoch: Middle Ages
Theme: Islamic Culture
World Heritage:
Middle AgesIslamic CultureIslamic religious centre

The Cifte Minaret Madrasa, built in the second half of the thirteenth century, has a colorful history not only as a theological school, but also as a gun foundry in the seventeenth century and as an arsenal and armory in the nineteenth century. More recently it has been used as a museum, which it continues to host today. It is the largest madrasa in Anatolia.
The construction of the school, also known as the Hatuniye Madrasa, has been alternately attributed to Hande Hatun, the daughter of Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad I (1220-1236), and to Padisha Hatun, the wife of Il Khanid Sultan Gaykhatu (1291-1295). The two attributions also suggest two different dates of construction: 1253 or 1290.
The madrasa is a two-storey, four-iwan building, thirty-five by forty-eight meters in plan. It is oriented along a north-south axis, with the main portal facing north. It extends beyond the south iwan (opposite the portal) to a 10-sided mausoleum. It was built up against what was once the eastern city wall.
The northern facade is dominated by the twin minarets that give the monument its name. The twenty-six meter tall brick minarets are each fluted with sixteen semicircles, the continuation of an architectural tradition with its origins in the Central Asian Qarakhanid dynasty. Each minaret sits on an octagonal base set atop a square pier. These piers frame the entryway and the monumental portal that projects (in plan) from the north wall. Each pier is carved in relief at the top and the base, with a main structure of plain-faced stone. The upper carving is a calligraphic medallion set in a square, with inscriptions naming Allah, the Prophet and the four Caliphs.
Entering through the portal there is a small domed room to the west that was once a small masjid. The entrance hall opens through an iwan onto a courtyard twenty by thirty-six meters ringed on three sides by two-storey arcade.
The mausoleum to the south extends beyond the rectangular plan of the seminary, but sections of the wall that made it more clearly a part of the madrasa have collapsed. On the exterior, the mausoleum is decorated with tall blind arches defined by continuous molding. Every other face has two windows, a small one high up just below the arch, and a lower window decorated with muqarnas vaulting. A geometric band rings the entire tomb below the cornice. The conical roof is divided into segments and is decorated with arches in low relief. It is supported by a cornice of muqarnas decoration. The tomb's builder is unknown, and its decoration, like that of the madrasa, is unfinished.

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