Turks came to Anatolia in 1071
as conquerors from the Great
Seljuk Empire in Iran.
They brought with them the architecture
of that country, but adapted it
beautifully to the requirements
The Essence of Seljuk Style
The Seljuks of Rum built monumental
stone buildings of elegantly simple
design and harmonious proportion, for
the most part severely plain,
but with bursts of elaborate
decoration around doorways.
Most Anatolian Seljuk works are of
dressed stone, with brick reserved
for minarets. Frequent use of mukarnas (stalactite
Many Great Seljuk buildings in Iran
have large open courtyards and
(three-sided rooms with the four side
open to a courtyard).
Architects in the Seljuk
Sultanate of Rum ("Rome," ie, Byzantium in
Anatolia) often decided the court
must be covered to protect against
the colder and snowier winters of
the Anatolian plateau. Thus some medreses (theological
seminaries) such as the Çifte
Minareli in Erzurum will
have an open court,
and others, such as the Great
Karatay in Konya,
will have covered courts.
Where to See Seljuk Buildings
the best place to see Seljuk architecture,
and the other great Seljuk cities—Alanya, Erzurum, Kayseri, Sivas—have
more good examples, but you may run
into Seljuk works in almost any Anatolia
city or town, especially in Central and Eastern
Anatolia. Seljuk power extended
(briefly) as far as the Aegean coast,
so you'll see Seljuk türbes
(tombs) even in—appropriately—the
town of Selçuk,
next to Ephesus,
south of Izmir.
The great caravanserais,
are among the finest and most
characteristic of Seljuk buildings.
Built during the 1200s to encourage
trade throughout the empire, several
dozen survive in good condition. More...
After the Mongol invasions of the
mid-1200s, the wealth and power of the Seljuk empire
declined. The few late 1200s-early 1300s buildings
that survive are fascinating amalgams of
Seljuk and Mongol styles. These include
the bimarhane (madhouse)
and the Süngür Bey Mosque in Niğde.