İsa Bey Mosque
The İsa Bey Mosque in Ayasoluk was built by the emir of Aydın İsa b. Muhammad in 1375. It is a large rectangular structure measuring some 52 by 56 meters, enclosed by high walls of limestone and marble, much of it spoils from the nearby ruins of Ephesus. While the north, east and south walls are of roughly drafted masonry, that on the west is fashioned of carefully cut stone, emphasizing its importance as the mosque’s main façade. Within, the İsa Bey Mosque is divided into a long, narrow prayer hall on the south preceded on the north by a rectangular courtyard, formerly enclosed by colonnaded porches on three sides. Three gateways give access to the courtyard, one on the north, and another pair functioning as well as the plinths of a pair of minarets, at the point where, on east and west, the porches join the prayer hall. In its interior the prayer hall is divided by a colonnade into a pair of aisles paralleling the kibla, which in turn are cut by a transept of two domed bays on triangular pendentives on the axis of the mihrab. The antecedent for the plan of İsa Bey Mosque is immediately apparent as being found in the Umayyad caliph al-Walid’s early eighth-century Great Mosque of Damascus, a connection which is explained by the name of the architect, ‘Ali b. al-Dimashqi, given in the construction text over the west portal. This Syrian link is further emphasized by the portal’s tall, narrow dimensions, by the angular knotting in bichrome marble reminiscent of Ayyubid Aleppo in its spandrels and by the bichrome (ablak) joggled joints of the relieving arches over the lower windows of the west façade.
Written by Howard Crane
From the Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection
İsa Bey Hamam