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Ulu Cami (English: Grand Mosque) is a 16th-century mosque in Adana, Turkey. It forms part of a complex (külliye) that includes a madrasah and a mausoleum (türbe). The buildings are on Kızılay street, next to the Ramazanoğlu Hall.

At the east wing, except the ones at the corner, the cells have the same width with the cells on the south wing. Like the others, the cells are covered with cradle vaults from inside and with grooved bricks outside. There are two extra niche on the corner cell and one extra on the third and fifth cells from south. At the cells on the qibla wing, there are two windows that face the courtyard and the street.

The most interesting part of the madrasah is the classroom which is made up of two lined up domes with sharp arches and pendentive. The classroom has outer dimensions of 9 m × 11.9 m (30 ft × 39 ft). Although the classrooms at the Turkish madrasah of Seljuk era and after were built with vault or as a single hall with a dome, the reason that it was built in rectangle shape with two lined up domes at this madrasah can be explained in terms of reducing the effects of the hot weather. The rims of the domes are not high. White and red stones were used in sequence on the front sharp arch of the hall.

History

The construction of the Ulu Cami was begun in 1513 by Ramazanoğlu Halil Bey and completed by his son and successor, Piri Mehmet Paşa, in 1541. For 450 years, until the building of the Sabancı Merkez Camii, the Ulu Cami was the largest mosque in Adana. It was damaged in the 1998 Adana-Ceyhan earthquake and the restoration by the General Directorate of the Foundations (Vakıflar Genel Müdürlüğü) was completed in 2004.

 The mosque

The building carries features of Mamluk, Seljuk and the Ottoman architectural design. The western entrance is older than the main building and differs in style from the part built by Ramazanoğlu Halil Bey. The conical stalactite roof that rises step by step above the entrance has the features of Seljukid architecture. This gives an indication that Ramadanids, who were a small beylik (emirate) in the early 16th century, initially built a small mosque, and later built the main building beside it when the beylik expanded and the small mosque was no longer sufficient.

The Ulu Cami, as a whole, has a rectangular plan with dimensions of 34.5 by 32.5 metres (113 ft × 107 ft). The courtyard is entered through large gates on the west and the east sides. The northern section of the courtyard is covered with a wooden roof supported on pillars and thus can serve as an extension to the prayer hall and as an outdoor area for praying in summer. At the east end of the courtyard the entrance at the side of the main hall, is decorated with black and white marble panels. The semi-pointed arches are decorated with stalactite and flower motifs.

The main prayer hall occupies the width of the rectangular plan and consists of two aisles of five bays separated by columns supporting semi-pointed arches. The mihrab is decorated with Iznik tiles and framed by black marble panels. Iznik tiles, which also decorate the qibla wall, were added after 1552.

The minaret, near the eastern entrance to the courtyard, has a covered balcony and shows a Mamluk influence. The exterior of the minaret is decorated with stone of two different colors.

Madrasah

Madrasah of Ulu Camii is on the east side of the mosque and is described in early documents as the ‘Old Madrasah’.

The madrasah, with the simple and clear stonework, and the fountain with 8-columns supporting a pyramidal roof, has a spacious look. Because of a little masjid squeezed on its northwest corner and an unrelated building placed beside, it does not provide a well-planned and a monumental view.

There are dervish cells on the east, west and south side of the nearly square courtyard, whose sides measure 23 m (75 ft). On the north side of the courtyard there is the main classroom (divanhane) covered with back to back two domes. The outer length of the madrasah from east to west is 32.8 metres (108 ft).

The west gate, built higher than the cells, has a simple architecture and leads to the courtyard through a short hallway with a cradle vault. The two cells on the south side of the entrance are thought to be the kitchen of the madrasah, now used as toilet. The smaller cell, like all the other dervish cells on the qibla wing, has a crenel window, fireplace and cabinet niche and has the dimensions of 3 by 3.85 metres (9.8 ft × 12.6 ft). In contrast, the qibla cells are smaller than the cells on the west side and have a square plan (2.7 m × 2.7 m (8.9 ft × 8.9 ft)).

At the east wing, except the ones at the corner, the cells have the same width with the cells on the south wing. Like the others, the cells are covered with cradle vaults from inside and with grooved bricks outside. There are two extra niche on the corner cell and one extra on the third and fifth cells from south. At the cells on the qibla wing, there are two windows that face the courtyard and the street.

The most interesting part of the madrasah is the classroom which is made up of two lined up domes with sharp arches and pendentive. The classroom has outer dimensions of 9 m × 11.9 m (30 ft × 39 ft). Although the classrooms at the Turkish madrasah of Seljuk era and after were built with vault or as a single hall with a dome, the reason that it was built in rectangle shape with two lined up domes at this madrasah can be explained in terms of reducing the effects of the hot weather. The rims of the domes are not high. White and red stones were used in sequence on the front sharp arch of the hall.

The rear walls of the east wing, the chimney and the north part of the classroom are made of brick, the rest of the madrasah is made of white stone. Although the inner walls of the cells are coated with plaster, the outer surfaces are not.

The design of the classroom as a back to back two domed space and the U-shape line up of the dervish cells around the courtyard distinguishes the Ulu Cami madrasah from Seljukid and Ottoman madrasah. Being the oldest among the Ramazanoğlu madrasah, another distinctive feature, similar to Yağ Camii madrasah, is the stone walls of the classroom front and the brick walls of the rear. The geometric decorations on the west window of the classroom is exactly the same as the geometric decorations of the arches at the entrance of the mosque.

Ornamentation

The portal niche of the madrasah is decorated with a beveled molding which make a knot on a pillar and keystone on both sides. The surrounding of the inscription is decorated with palmets (fan shaped glyph) and small badges. The second of the two rectangular windows on the east and the west walls of the hall is framed with geometrically patterned molding that forms with the intersection of thread line with checker and six-armed stars that have flower with six leaves at the center. Ornaments of the window on the east wall is not completed.

Inscription and chronogram

The only inscription on the madrasah is the two lines of thuluth script on the crown gate. The text reads:

“This holy madrasah was built by the son of Halil Bey, Piri, in need of Allah’s mercy, on the year nine forty seven, in the middle of the month of Muharram, during the reign of the greatest and the most eminent Shah Sultan Süleyman – Allah last his estate – for the sake of Allah.”

The chronogram indicates that the madrasah was completed in May, 1540. Although the builder of the madrasah is known as Ramazanoğlu Piri Pasha, the architect is unknown.