Places of interest
Adana witnessed the passing of many civilisations as well as many religions. Consequently diverse places of worship, ranging from polytheistic pagan temples to churches and mosques, are ubiquitous throughout the province. The ruins of temples to various pagan deities are features of almost all the ancient cities. Ancient cities, fortresses and towns, most notably Aladağ, also contain fine churches. Most of the temples and churches were devastated by the passage of time as well as natural disasters such as earthquakes, and some have been completely obliterated. The records indicate that there were many churches in Adana; however, the only church that has reached our times is the Catholic Church of St. Paul, which was built in 1880s in the Tepebağ. The two-and-a half metre bronze statue of the Virgin Mary that tops the church’s gable wall has given it the popular name of Bebekli Church (lit. the church with doll). The Yağ Mosque, which stands next to a madrasah, was a church that was converted to a mosque with an addition of a minaret in 1501 during the period of Ramazanoğulları Principality. Another church, built in 1845, is now used as the Museum of Ethnography.
Adana was one of the last of the Ottoman conquests. However, Islam arrived in the city during the period of the Abbasid Empire, in the 8th century. Later, many states occupied Adana successively, and it was ruled by Ramazanoğulları Principality until 1517, when the Ottoman Sultan Selim I, on his way to campaign in Egypt, conquered and incorporated lands including Adana to the Ottoman Empire. The historical mosques of the city were built either by the Ramazanoğulları Principality or by the Ottomans, the two important Islamic states that played a major role in shaping the history of Adana.
The most important historical mosques of Adana are located in the city centre. However, there are fascinating mosques to be found in the nearby towns. The Hoşkadem Mosque located in the Fortress of Kozan, was commissioned in 1448 by the Sultan of Egypt Emir Abdullah Hoşkadem, and built in Mamluk style.
The oldest mosque in the city centre of Adana is the Akça or Ağca Mosque, completed in 1489. The structure was commissioned by the Turcoman Ağca Bey, and it is also the oldest significant structure built by the Turks in Adana.
The various cultures that have met in Adana left their imprints on its life style and culture as well as in its architecture. Many structures display diverse building styles reflecting the civilisations that have defined the culture of Adana. The most important example of such mixed styles is the Ulu (Grand) Mosque, which is one of the oldest mosques in Adana. The mosque, which is famous for its glazed tiles, was built in 1507 and is situated next to the Akça Mosque. Its architectural features contain a mix of Seljuk, Mamluk and Ottoman styles. To the south of the mosque there is a grand tomb built during the reign of Ramazanoğulları Principality. To the east there is a madrasah originally built in 1540.
Another structure built under the influences of different styles is the Mestanzade Mosque, which was completed in 1682. The mosque is believed to be one of the earliest examples of the Western influence in Ottoman architecture. Near the mosque stands the Yeni Mosque, built in 1724 in a style that clearly indicates the influence of Mamluk architecture and decorative arts.
The Hasan Ağa Mosque is situated near the Yağ Mosque. It was completed in 1558 and is the only example of classical Ottoman architecture in the city centre. It is believed that the design was laid out by the famous Architect Mimar Sinan. The internal muezzin’s platform (in large congregations the adhan chanters repeat the imam’s prayers and sermons at the rear end of the congregation from such a platform in order to ensure unison) is an exquisite example of wood- working and intricate marble carving, and we strongly suggest that any visitor to Adana take a look.
The Sabancı Mosque, located near the Taşköprü Bridge over the Seyhan River, is a defining structure of the present day silhouette of Adana. The largest mosque in Turkey, the Sabancı Mosque’s classical appearance belies its recent construction, and it is an indispensable image, featured on innumerable Adana postcards. It’s many a tourist who has pointed her camera at the mosque as its reflection shimmers in the Seyhan River.