The sleepy town of Seyitgazi, about an hour south of Eskişehir, doesn’t seem like a draw for tourists. I found that out when everyone I encountered asked me, “Why are you HERE? There’s nothing to see!” I disagree. I used Seyitgazi mainly as an entrance point into the Phrygian Valley, but the town does boast one worthy attraction.
The Seyit Battal Gazi Külliyesi is a mosque complex that sits on a hill above town. It was dedicated to Seyit Battal Gazi, an Arab warrior who fought against the Byzantine Empire and died around 740. After his tomb was discovered in a former Orthodox monastery in 1207, Ümmühan Hatun, the mother of Selçuk Sultan Alâeddin Keykûbad I, had the complex converted into an Islamic shrine. During Byzantine times, Seyitgazi was known as Nakólia (Νακόλεια). The complex was under restoration during my visit, but I was still able to see almost everything.
First off, as I walked up to the complex, I got an incredible view of the town.
When I reached the top of the hill, I walked through a stone corridor that made me feel as if I was entering a Medieval castle rather than a mosque complex.
Off the corridor to the right, I popped into a room used as a tomb for Çoban Baba. I’m not quite sure what his connection was to Seyit Battal Gazi.
Next, I entered the courtyard. There are many small buildings and rooms critical to the operation of the complex, some of which I’ll mention below. The courtyard was restored by Ottoman Sultan Selim II in 1512, which is the reason it had more of an Ottoman feel to it than I was expecting.
Not all the rooms were open, but I was able to see the aşevi (kitchen), fırın (bakery), mosque, tomb, medrese, and dervish rooms. The complex became an important dervish tekke in the 14th century under Hacı Bektaş Veli. It was used for this purpose into the 19th century, but had fallen in importance many years earlier. In the center of the courtyard is a fountain made out of a sarcophagus and Byzantine baptismal font.
Another tomb, the Kadıncık Ana Türbesi, is located on the courtyard. I believe she was a an adopted daughter of Hacı Bektaş Veli.
Behind the mosque’s heavy wooden doors is the most important part of the complex, the tomb of Seyit Battal Gazi. The interior is quite bare with seemingly few original features, such as the stone screen just inside the entrance and the minbar.
A small niche on the right side of the mosque is called the Kardeşler Türbesi (Brothers Tomb), and a large room next to it holds the remains of Seyit Battal Gazi. The first thing you’ll notice is that the tomb is unusually long, about 8m. Obviously he wasn’t that tall, but apparently, he’s not the only person inside. Legend has it that Elenora, a Byzantine princess from nearby Afyon, fell in love with him, killed herself upon hearing of his death, and was buried with him. A normal sized tomb next to his is labeled “Elenora”.
Overall, while not a knockout attraction, the complex is worth a visit because of the romantic story behind it. My only complaint is that the restoration makes the complex look unauthentic, almost too new. It definitely doesn’t feel like it was built in the 13th century.
The rest of the town is just as I described it – sleepy. There’s not much action and no other attractions.
To get to Seyitgazi, I took an Afyon-bound bus from Eskişehir. It dropped me off at a crossroads on the outskirts of town, just a five minute walk to the center. To get back to Eskişehir, I used a local co-op bus service. The times are listed on a bulletin board in the center of town.