Karaman Castle (Karaman Kalesi), set in the city centre of Karaman, is believed to have been constructed in the late 11th century. The structure underwent some renovations during the Seljuk and Karamanid periods, and in 1465, the Ottomans repaired the citadel. In these repairs, inscriptions and architectural elements from previously destroyed structures were used on the castle ramparts. Traces of the Bronze, Roman and Byzantine periods can be observed in the citadel.
You can witness history during a visit to the Karaman Museum (Karaman Müzesi), featuring the rich archaeological and ethnographic artifacts of Karaman and its environs. The museum has two exhibition halls of archaeological and ethnographic artifacts, containing items from the Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, Ottoman, and Turkish Republic eras. Among the exhibited artifacts are terracotta pots, idols, bone, and metal jewellery, weapons, ethnographic items, and ancient coins, as well as lacrimatory, which are vases used to collect tears.
Değle Archaeological Site
The Değle Archaeological Site (Değle Ören Yeri) sheds light on the Byzantine Era as well as earlier periods. Set on Karadağ, a volcanic mountain north of Karaman, the excavation reveals details of Byzantine-era residential architecture. Compared to religious structures of the same era, residences were simply built and quite plain, with two or three rooms depending on the requirements of the period.
A pre-Byzantine altar on the site had been transformed into a rock altar during the Byzantine era. On the eastern side of the huge block is a relief depicting a man holding a bowl with his left hand and sowing seeds with his right. This indicates that Karaman was used as a settlement in antiquity by societies engaged in agriculture.
Madenşehir Archaeological Site
The Madenşehir Archaeological Site (Madenşehir Ören Yeri) features some still-standing structures, which offer an idea of the period’s art and architecture.
The largest of the Binbir Church structures at the entrance of the village is the first basilica. The structure was built in the year 500 and was repaired in 900s after it was destroyed in an Arab invasion. The necropolis (cemetery) area lies on both sides of the road, stretching north from the first basilica. The outer surfaces of some of the sarcophagi here are decorated with reliefs and figures.
Gökçeseki Archaeological Site
The Gökçeseki Archaeological Site (Gökçeseki Ören Yeri) is in Gökçeseki Village, in the Ermenek district. Inside the site are the basic traces of many buildings, some architectural pieces, numerous pottery shards and, at the top, a sanctuary with steps. There are two hills and a number of rock tombs on the northern slope of one and the southern slope of the other, as well as some structural remains and tombs in the small valley between the two hills. Klinai and lion-shaped covers can be seen inside the rock tombs, some of which are multi-chambered and some single-chambered. The excavations, including the tombs, suggest that the site was a settlement during the Roman and Byzantine periods.
Yunus Emre Mosque and Tomb
Having hosted many civilizations, Anatolia is also the birthplace of these civilizations’ literature, much of which is renowned worldwide. Numerous poets came from this region. Yunus Emre is a folk poet of Sufism and the pioneer of Turkish poetry in Anatolia. The Yunus Emre Mosque (Yunus Emre Cami) was built during the Karamanid Period and is in the city centre of Karaman. Adjacent to the western wall of the building is the tomb of Yunus Emre.
Aktekke Mosque (Aktekke Cami) is in the city centre of Karaman. The mosque is in the form of a social complex, as was common in that era. The complex includes baths, along with dervish cells in the mosque environs. There are cemeteries in its south and west areas as well as tombs and cemeteries inside. The great Turkish mystic and sufi, Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi, came to Karaman with his family in 1222, was married there and stayed for seven years. The structure is also known as the Mader-i Mevlâna Mosque, as the tomb of Mümine Hatun, Mevlana's mother, is in the building known as Aktekke Mosque among the public. On the left-hand side inside the mosque, built in 1370, there are 21 stone sarcophagi belonging to Mevlana's mother, elder brother, and other relatives.
Taşkale Grain Storage
In ancient times, humans discovered that grain products could be stored for more than 30 years – if placed in warehouses carved into calcareous clay rock. Thus, early inhabitants carved the Taşkale Grain Storage (Taşkale Tahıl Ambarları), located within the borders of Taşkale village in the centre of Karaman. The Storage consists of more than 250 single or two-chambered storage houses in total. You can climb the storage houses by holding onto the indents on the rock surface. Cereal products are transported by a chain roller system.
As an example of Byzantine architecture, Çeşmeli Church (Çeşmeli Kilise) (Surp Asvadzadzin Armenian Church) is another of the churches in Karaman that have hosted many civilizations. Set in the city centre, the church is in the Tapucak Settlement, one of the oldest in Karaman. This settlement was inhabited by Armenians and Greeks, who lived together with Turkish people prior to World War I and the population exchange.
The church was restored in 2007 and started to be used for artistic events such as exhibitions, meetings, and music concerts.
With the advent of Islam, various rulers erected numerous madrasas across Anatolia. Hatuniye Madrasa (Hatuniye Medresesi), located in the city centre, is among them. It was built in 1382. There are student chambers on the east and west sides of the madrasa.
Known as the first major madrasa built during the Karamanid Period, Tol Madrasa (Tol Medrese) is one of the works of the beyliks reigning in Anatolian geography and located in the Ermenek district. Ethnographic pieces and stone artifacts collected from the region are exhibited in this madrasa, which was built in 1339.
Hürrem Dayı House
To see an example of Traditional Turkish House Architecture during the Ottoman Empire, you can visit the Hürrem Dayı House (Hürrem Dayı Evi), located in the city centre of Karaman. With nearly 300 years of history, Hürrem Dayı Evi takes visitors on a nostalgic journey with its hand-carved wooden ornamentation.
Set in the city centre of Karaman, Tartanlar Mansion (Tartanlar Konağı) built in 1810 by Hacı Ahmet Efendi of the Tartanzade family. Considered one of the most beautiful examples of Anatolian Turkish House Architecture, the building has a middle antechamber plan with two floors. Fine handcrafted decorations in the house attract attention.