Kara­man’s mosque carved in stone awaits vis­i­tors

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Sports -

CARVED in­side a rock face that rise like a gi­gan­tic wall, Taş Mescit (Stone Mosque) is lo­cated in the Taşkale vil­lage, in south-cen­tral Tur­key’s Kara­man.

The vil­lage is also known for its hun­dreds-year-old stone gra­naries that are also carved in­side the stone.

Taşkale was an im­por­tant cen­ter in the late Ro­man and early Byzan­tine pe­ri­ods. The vil­lage started to be called “Kızıl­lar” af­ter Turks set­tled in Ana­to­lia.

It now at­tracts a lot of tourist at­ten­tion with its au­then­tic pat­tern and a steep slope at the en­trance to the mosque and gra­naries.

The Stone Mosque was built as a chapel in the early years of Chris­tian­ity but has served as a place of wor­ship for Mus­lims af­ter they moved into the re­gion.

The struc­ture was carved in­side the rock like nearby stone gra­naries. Its square-shaped prayer area re­ceives nat­u­ral light through four gi­gan­tic win­dows. A wooden mez­za­nine cov­ers half of the en­tire prayer area while a mar­ble­cov­ered mihrab, the semi­cir­cu­lar niche in the wall of a mosque that in­di­cates the di­rec­tion of prayer, was sim­i­larly carved into the rock first. The prayer hall can ac­com­mo­date 150 to 200 peo­ple at a time.

CARVED IN­SIDE ROCK

Kara­man’s Di­rec­tor of Cul­ture and Tourism Ab­dul­lah Kılıç told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Taşkale is one of the most im­por­tant tourism cen­ters in the city thanks to its cul­tural her­itage and au­then­tic at­mos­phere.

The vil­lage bears the traces from dif­fer­ent pe­ri­ods in­clud­ing Ro­man, early Chris­tian­ity, Byzan­tine, Seljuk and Ot­toman. “There are 251 gra­naries that are thought to have been built by the first set­tlers. Peo­ple built with their own hands by carv­ing into the giant rock. Early set­tlers would live on the lower floors and store grains in the up­per floors. Even af­ter the Turks con­quered the re­gion, this fea­ture was pro­tected.”

Kılıç said that the Stone Mosque started off as an early Chris­tian sanc­tu­ary. “There have al­ways been sanc­tu­ar­ies, where peo­ple lived as groups at dif­fer­ent times in his­tory. Peo­ple built a chapel and a small church in­side. But af­ter Turks set­tled here, peo­ple who es­tab­lished the Kızıl­lar vil­lage be­gan to use it as a mosque. There are many chapels carved into rocks in Ana­to­lia but there only one Stone Mosque in ex­is­tence to­day. This is why it is so unique and im­por­tant.”

MIHRAB WITH MAR­BLES

Kılıç said the mosque, which is al­most 5 me­ters in height, can be en­tered through a stair­case that has been built and added later.

“The mosque is di­vided into two parts. There is an area for shoes left and the stairs. The carved mihrab, which is in front of the main prayer hall, is cov­ered in mar­ble. This main prayer area is di­vided by a wooden mez­za­nine. The mosque has four gi­gan­tic win­dows.”

“The mosque is al­ways open to wor­ship. It is never closed so vis­i­tors can come at any time, pray and visit this his­tor­i­cal struc­ture. Those who have been to the mosque can­not hide their ad­mi­ra­tion. It is cool in sum­mer while hot in the win­ter. It has a nat­u­ral, sim­ple and peace­ful at­mos­phere. I in­vite ev­ery­one to come see this place,” he said.

The carved mihrab, which is in front of the main prayer hall, is cov­ered in mar­ble.

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