Inside the Türbe (mausoleum) of Seyit Battal Gazi. The long cenotaph sarcophagus is his; the short one belongs to the Byzantine princess Elenora. The length of the first sarcophagus (7½ meters) is no indication of Battal Gazi’s extreme body length (as some pilgrims may well tell you), but the symbolic expression of his merits.
The mausoleum was built in 1208 on request of Ümmühan Hatun, the mother of the Seljuk sultan Allaeddin Keykubat I.
The presence of the second sarcophagus is the result of a highly romantic and tragic story that was told in the region in the late 12th century. Some 5½ centuries earlier, Battal Gazi – a muslim army commander from Malatya – got injured during a campaign against the Byzantines. Separated from his troops, he asked for help in a Christian nunnery, where he was indeed admitted. The young abbess Elenora, a daughter of the Byzantine emperor, fell deeply in love with the brave warrior – and the love was mutual. During the few days that Battal Gazi stayed in the nunnery, he slowly recovered from his injuries; but meanwhile – knowing the muslim commander was injured and alone, the Byzantine troops combed the region to find him, and came to the nunnery too, asking if the nuns had seen of heard anything. Elenora declared to have no information, and thus – betraying her own side – exposed herself to possible retaliation if the truth came out. When Battal Gazi heard what had happened, he immediately girded his armor, mounted his horse and went into the pursue of the Byzantine patrol, challenging them in to fight. He succeeded in killing them all, but got injured again seriously; he managed to return to the nunnery, more dead than alive, and soon died of his wounds. Elenora had tried to save her beloved by lying, and indirectly provoked his death after all.
During their lives, Battal Gazi and Elenora were together for just a few days. Now, at the hands of a Seljuk sultan’s mother, they have been lying next to each other for already 800 years.
Correspondent: J.M.Criel, Antwerpen.
Sources: ‘Türkye Tarihi Yerler Kılavuzu’ – M.Orhan Bayrak, Inkılâp Kitabevi, Istanbul, 1994.
Leaflet of the Seyitgazi Külliyesi (1995) , ‘Guide Fodor: Turquie’ - Edition 1988
& Personal visits (1995 – 1996).