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History of Science

Anatolia’s First Astronomy Center Awaits Its Visitors!

Translator: Bi’ Dünya Haber

Throughout history, statesmen have engaged in celestial studies and supported such endeavors. In Anatolia, the leading figure in sky-related activities was Caca Bey, the governor of the period. In this article, we will discuss the Cacabey Astronomy Madrasa, established by Caca Bey, which became Anatolia’s first astronomy center. The restoration of the madrasa, initiated by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in 2019, was completed last winter, and it is now open for visitation. If you decide to visit, don’t forget to read this informative article beforehand! Happy reading.

Cacabey Madrasa was built in 1272 during the reign of Keyhüsrev III by Nureddin Cebrail b. Caca, who was the governor of Kırşehir at the time. The madrasa, which provided astronomy lessons during its time, was one of the earliest structures resembling an observatory. Caca Bey endowed his wealth, including vineyards, gardens, houses, and inns, to establish this madrasa.

Cacabey Madrasa is a closed madrasa-type structure, characterized by a courtyard opening onto four iwans, closely associated with Turkish architecture. The inscription on the entrance arch of the madrasa contains the Basmala (In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful) and the beginning of the 90th verse of Surah An-Nahl. The madrasa is adorned with numerous inscriptions and decorations, especially on the main gate. The inscription on the main gate of the madrasa is as follows:

Caca Bey
Anatolia's First Astronomy Center Awaits Its Visitors! 1

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

In the months of the year 671, in the era of Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev bin Kılıçarslan, the great sultan, the protector of the ummah, the master of Arab and Persian sultans, the sultan of lands and seas, the helper of Islam and Muslims, the lord of sultans and kings, the father of conquests, Caca bin Caca, who is in need of Allah’s mercy and forgiveness, commanded its construction to draw closer to Allah and gain His pleasure.

The decorations found within the madrasa are among the most unique examples of Anatolian Seljuk ornamentation. It is widely believed that the shapes found on some columns represent the moon, the sun, and various planets. On the left side of the madrasa entrance, there is the tomb of Caca Bey.

Caca Bey established this madrasa with the aim of providing education in various fields, including astronomy and mathematics. The Cacabey Madrasa holds great significance as one of the institutions offering early astronomy education. It is also said that the madrasa was established for astronomical observations. The presence of a well inside the madrasa and an observation tower later used as a minaret are seen as indications of astronomical studies conducted here. It is claimed that the mentioned well was an observatory well and that research was conducted on celestial bodies reflected in the water.

The structure used as a madrasa later fell into ruins due to neglect. After the restoration works in 1907, it was converted into a mosque. Today, the Cacabey Madrasa, which continues to serve as a mosque, is also known as the Cıncıklı Mosque among the locals due to the blue tiles on its minaret.

Cacabey Madrasa, which has reached the present day in all its glory, was included in the UNESCO Temporary World Heritage List in 2014. This madrasa, which also houses the tomb of Caca Bey, becomes one of the routes for visitors who want to witness history.

Who is Caca Bey?

He was born in 1240. Caca Bey, who served in various positions in Eskişehir and Tokat, was later appointed as the governor of Kırşehir. Having good relations with Hacı Bektaş Veli, Caca Bey established charitable institutions in many parts of Anatolia. Caca Bey, who was martyred in 1301, was buried in the tomb next to the madrasa he had built in 1272.

In this article, we tried to introduce you to the Cacabey Madrasa, Anatolia’s first astronomy center, and its founder. If you happen to visit the madrasa, don’t forget to share your comments with us.

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