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The Fluted Minaret
2003 / April

A mediaeval Seljuk builder whose name has long since been forgotten climbed the ninetieth step, and from a height of 38 metres looked around him. The Mediterranean, that most beautiful of seas, had taken refuge in the tiny harbour below, the last rays of the sun playing on its surface as it set over the Bey Mountains. The shadows of houses leaning shoulder to shoulder darkened the narrow streets winding downhill. A light evening breeze was blowing, carrying the cool scent of oranges from the stone paved courtyards. Wiping the last drop of sweat from his brow with his sleeve, he began to descend the flight of steps winding down inside the minaret, the oil lamp in his hand lighting his way. The Seljuks had arrived in Adalya, as they called Antalya, in 1207, many centuries after King Attalos II of Pergamum had given his name to the city that he described as heaven on earth. Now Sultan Alaeddin I Keykubad (1219-1236) was on the throne, and embellishing the city with the first Islamic works of art.

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The Fluted Minaret
2003 / April

In a cosmopolitan city where there were Christian merchants of many nations and large communities of Greeks and Jews, a minaret would be the most symbolic structure. The Seljuks did not regard minarets only as parts of mosques, but as monuments in their own right. Of the many fluted and spiralling brick minarets built by the Seljuks, the most impressive of all was the Yivli Minare or Fluted Minaret in Antalya Castle. The minaret rested on an ashlar stone plinth, and its eight flutes were adorned with turquoise glazed bricks. Its Seljuk builder could not have known that for centuries to come his minaret would be the symbol of Antalya. When he completed his task and returned to his humble life, he had no idea that he had set his signature to postcards illustrating the Antalya of the future. For him, this was just an ordinary commission that had to be completed on time. When the Roman emperor Hadrian visited Antalya in the year 130, a gate in the form of a Roman victory arch was built in the castle walls in his honour.

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The Fluted Minaret
2003 / April
The magnificent gate was flanked by columns and had four turrets, above which rose a triple arch carved with floral relief decoration. Hadrian's Gate was far more ambitious in concept than the Fluted Minaret, but when this spire symbolising the Turkish conquest of the city rose above the castle walls to overlook the harbour from its strategic location near the main gate, it took the star role. The Fluted Minaret is not the only early Turkish building to survive in Antalya. The old quarter of the city around the harbour is also home to Yivli Minare Mosque, Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev Medrese, Selçuklu Medrese, and the türbes (mausoleums) of Zincirkiran Mehmed Bey and Nigâr Hatun. Yivli Minare Mosque, with its six domes, is one of the oldest examples of the multi-domed mosque type in Antalya. Yivli Minare Mosque was built in 1372 just west of the older minaret after which it was named. It was founded by Mübarizeddin Mehmed Bey, ruler of the Turkish Hamidogullari Emirate, and its architect was Balaban Tavasi.
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The Fluted Minaret
2003 / April
The mosque was home to Antalya Museum until the new museum building was constructed. Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev Medrese was a college built in 1239 by the Seljuk governor Armağan in the sultn'so name. Selçuklu Medrese facing it has been restored and now contains shops. One of the two mausoleums in the grounds of Yivli Minare Mosque was built in 1377 by Mübarizeddin Mehmed Bey for his son Zincirkiran Mehmed Bey. The architecture is Seljuk in style, although the plain exterior, windows, and the fact that the three tombs inside are below ground level are characteristics of Ottoman architecture. The Mevlevi dervish lodge west of the mausoleum is thought to have been built in 1225 by Sultan Alaeddin I Keykubad. The mausoleum to the northwest of the Fluted Minaret was built in 1502, and so belongs to the Ottoman period, although the architecture is Seljuk in style, in keeping with the surrounding buildings.
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The Fluted Minaret
2003 / April

Having descended the last step, the anonymous Seljuk builder turned and locked the minaret door with a great key that he had taken from the sash around his waist. Kissing it, he hung it on the hook. The oil in his lamp was almost finished, and the flame flickered uncertainly. He looked up. It was a full moon, and the sky was bright with thousands of stars. The minaret was completed and his task over. Now it belonged to Antalya, one of the Mediterranean's loveliest cities. He entered one of the streets descending towards the sea that led to his house and walked into oblivion.

* Ersin Toker is a freelance writer

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