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Turkey’s Ancient Wooden-Supported Mosques Join UNESCO World Heritage List

By BNN Newsroom
Turkey’s Ancient Wooden-Supported Mosques Join UNESCO World Heritage List
Turkey's Ancient Wooden-Supported Mosques Join UNESCO World Heritage List

A new addition to the UNESCO World Heritage List

In a landmark decision at the 45th UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a group of wooden-supported mosques scattered across various provinces of Turkey successfully secured a place on the prestigious World Heritage List. Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, the Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister, shared this historic achievement on social media. He highlighted that this marks the first instance where Turkey has managed to list a series of its cultural assets on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The inclusion of these mosques and the previously listed Gordion has elevated Turkey’s tally of cultural assets on the list to 21.

The historic mosques declared “World Heritage”

The wooden columned and beamed mosques that bagged this honour span from the Middle Ages to the present and are situated in different parts of Anatolia. The list includes the Eşrefoğlu Mosque in Beyşehir, Konya, the Ulu Mosque in Sivrihisar, Eskişehir, the Mahmut Bey Mosque in Kasaba Village, Kastamonu, the Ahi Şerefeddin (Arslanhane) Mosque in Ankara, and the Ulu Mosque in Afyonkarahisar. These mosques were proposed for the World Heritage status by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism under the name “Middle Ages Wooden Columned and Beamed Mosques of Anatolia”. Their acceptance at the meeting signifies their induction as Turkey’s first series of cultural assets on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The common features and unique artistry of the mosques

Although these mosques are dispersed across different cities, they all bear the marks of Anatolian life due to their shared characteristics. They are some of the most significant examples of the hypostyle monumental wooden mosque typology of their time in Anatolia. The mosques are distinguished by their impressive wood carving art. The meticulous craftsmanship is evident in the wooden elements of their doors, pulpits, column capitals, ceiling beams, and consoles.

One of the defining features of these historic mosques is their wooden pulpits crafted using the kündekari technique. The pulpit bears the names of the master craftsmen who worked on them. The mosques also showcase the intricate decorations known as “Kalem İşi”, revealing an exceptional level of carpentry skill and aesthetic sensibility. The unique artistry and architectural style of these mosques reflect the rich cultural history of Anatolia, making them worthy of the World Heritage status.

Significance of the UNESCO World Heritage status

The recognition from UNESCO is not merely an acknowledgement of the historical and cultural value of these mosques but also a call to preserve these unique architectural wonders for future generations. As members of the World Heritage List, these mosques will now receive greater protection and conservation support, ensuring that their beauty and historical significance are not lost over time.

The inclusion of the wooden-supported mosques into the UNESCO World Heritage List is also a testament to Turkey’s rich cultural and architectural heritage. This achievement underscores the country’s commitment to preserving its historic assets and promoting its unique cultural heritage on a global scale.


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