We continue our ‘Take a Look at Turkey’ series with an article about the wonderful Efreşoğlu Mosque in Beysehir.

Beyşehir – Efreşoğlu Mosque

Beyşehir lies on the edge of the lake of the same name in the Taurus Mountains northeast of Fethiye.  It can be reached from Isparta or from a turning off the Manavgat-Konya road at a place called Seydişehir.  If you are returning to Fethiye from Konya you can do so via Beyşehir.  If you go to Beyşehir you must visit the Efreşoğlu Mosque which lies almost on the lake shore.

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The mosque was built by a local ruler Efreşoğlu Suleyman Bey in 1297–1299 and is still in almost perfect condition.  The outer stone building hides a unique wooden interior in which 42 cedar tree trunks have been used as support columns for the roof.  The entire wooden structure is pegged and jointed – no nails.

{mosimage}What’s more the builders came up with an ingenious solution to prevent the wood drying out.  Note the wooden fenced area on the floor in the picture above.  Inside the fence is a pit called the ‘Snow Collector’ and originally the roof above this pit was open so that it could snow into the pit into winter.  The snow would freeze, the mosque is over 3000-feet above sea level, and then in the summer gradually melt, thus creating humidity to prevent the wood splitting.  Nowadays the hole in the roof has been filled with a skylight and the wood is treated with a chemical preservative.  However, the 42 cedar columns are not the only unique feature of the mosque.

{mosimage}The prayer niche, mihrab in Turkish, is tiled in turquoise and black tiles made at the Karatay factory in Konya.  These pre-date the much more famous Iznik tiles by over 200 years and are still in immaculate condition – see picture. The mosque has several examples of carved ebony (wood originally imported from India) and walnut including the original entry doors and the pulpit known as the mimbar in Turkish.

As can be seen from the photo of the mosque interior it has fitted carpet on the ground floor.  Until about thirty years ago all mosques were carpeted with small carpets, kilims and prayer rugs often given to the mosque as a memorial on the death of a member of the mosque.  Over centuries these were layered on top of one another until people realised that, several layers down, were extremely rare and valuable carpets dating back as much as 800 years. 

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{mosimage}The 1980s saw the removal of all carpets from mosques, with the most valuable finding their way to museums.  Several carpets from this mosque are now in the Mevlana Museum in Konya.  Fitted carpets became the norm and totally changed the way mosques looked. 

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If you visit this mosque be sure to go up into the women’s balcony and you will get an idea of how all mosques used to look.  As can be seen from the photo below the original carpets and kilims, none of them particularly valuable, are still in use in the balcony.  Another very good reason for taking a trip to Beyşehir to visit the Efreşoğlu Mosque.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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