From 1267, this former Kuran school now functions as a nice shopping centre.
It is also named ‘Sahip Ata Medresesi’, after the Seljuk vizier who had it built during the Ilhanlı domination over Anatolia (1243-1335). These ‘Ilhanlı / Ilkhanids’ are Iran based Mongols, who defeated the Seljuks at the Battle of Köse Dağ in 1243 and annexed their territory.
The medrese has its entrance to the South. Passing through the gatehouse, one enters the open inner courtyard, which has galleries on the eastern, northern and western side. Behind these galleries lie rooms of different sizes. Facing the entrance, a large iwan closes the yard; another three smaller iwans open to the yard too: one adjacent to the gatehouse, and two halfway the yard (one on the left, one on the right). This kind of building is called: a four-iwan-medrese with open yard.
An iwan (Persian & Turkish: ‘eyvān’) is a rectangular hall or space, usually vaulted, walled on three sides, with one end entirely open. This architectural form can be used for entrances, but also (as it is the case here) to create half open rooms looking out at a central yard. The iwan as used in Anatolian Seljuk ‘medrese’ was imported from Islamic Persia, but was invented much earlier and fully developed in Mesopotamia.
Correspondent: J.M.Criel, Antwerpen
Sources: ‘Kayseri Kültür Varlıkları Envanteri’ (Kayseri Belediyesi 2008)