Historic Town of Birgi
Birgi is located within the Aegean Region, 121 km away from the Province of Izmir, 10 km away from the District of Ödemiş. Birgi and its vicinity, which were located within the Lydia Region during the Ancient Period, fell respectively under the hegemonies of the Phrygian Civilization (750-680 BC), the Lydian Civilization (680-546 BC.), the Persian Regency, the Pergamon Regency, the Roman Empire and the Byzantium. During the Period of the Anatolian Beyliks (Sultanates), it was under control of the Aydınoğlu Sultanate of which it was the capital city in the XIIIth and XIVth centuries. In 1426, Birgi was under control of the Ottoman Empire. Its efficiency as the management and cultural centre continued till the XVII century.
There are still remains of the many civilisations that Birgi hosted; such as many tombs, madrasa, dar-ül hadis, mosques, fountains, baths, libraries, masjid and residences which reflect the architectural and cultural features of the Period of the Anatolian Beyliks (Sultanates) and the Ottoman Empire, as well as houses dated to the 18th century and the following centuries.
The spolia materials used in the civil architecture buildings particularly in the fountains carry the traces of the previous periods. In addition, the traditional buildings constructed on the walls erected during the late Byzantium Period provide a possibility to follow together two purposes oriented the structure.
The traditional urban texture of Birgi is composed of sites which have different characteristics. The sites having the street layout shaped by the topography are the first of these sites. In general within these areas, the buildings are located in the street façade of the parcel. The street facades of the parcels are surrounded by the high walls. The parcels are shaped organically and the roads are very narrow. The transportation system is completed with a few blind streets. The residential parcels in the second group are located in the area having a comparatively flatter topography and its parcel settlement has more geometric form in comparison with the first group. Mainly the residential buildings have the type of plan with the exterior sofa and the type of their structure is formed on the masonry ground with the timber frame and tile cover.
Mostly two stored and courtyard houses were located in general on the edge of the street or the corners of the parcels and thus it was provided to have gardens as big as possible. This way, the green areas formed by the gardens behind the houses, in the centre or one side of the building lots revitalize the environment.
The Great Mosque of Birgi, which dominates the traditional urban layout, was completed in 1312 on the order of Mehmed Bey, the founder of Aydınoğlu Sultanate. It has a basilical plan with five aisles extending perpendicular to the mihrab wall, and the bay before the mihrab is covered with a dome. The building materials include rubble, ashlar, marble blocks, and spolia. The minaret is built adjoining the West end of the qıbla wall. The Great Mosque of Birgi has rich decorative woodwork and tiling. The minaret is decorated in turquoise-glazed brick, unglazed brick, and tile mosaic. The mihrab has tile mosaics in aubergine-purple and turquoise. The minbar is made of walnut wood. The surface of the mihrab is abundantly decorated with geometric compositions of three, eight and ten-pointed stars and four, six, and eight-sided polygons. Moreover, there are a number of inscriptions in Arabic with religious content. The mihrab and minber of the Great Mosque of Birgi, is one of the best preserved examples of their time.
Built by a leather merchant in the eighteenth century, Cakıraga Mansion is one of the prominent buildings reflecting the architectural and ornamental style particular to the Aegean region in that period. The mansion consists of two storeys additional to the ground floor. The ground floor walls of the mansion are made with stone building, while the mid and upper floor walls are made with the wooden framework technique. The upper floor has a long, rectangular plan with an open sofa. The ceilings and walls of the upper floor are highly decorated with plants and fruit motifs. The most interesting paintings in the mansion are the panoramic city views. One room offers a panoramic depiction of Istanbul while another room displays a panorama of Izmir. The sofa on the upper floor shows a wall painting describing a coastal town with a fortress. Moreover, the mansion is distinguished with its woodwork. On the upper floor, the timber ceilings are decorated with geometric panels formed with long, narrow strips of wood and painted with motifs such as crescents, stars, flowers and fruits.