Konya, historically known as Iconium, is a major city in south-central Turkey, on the south-western edge of the Central Anatolian Plateau.
As of the last 31/12/2019 estimation, the Metropolitan Province population was 2,232,274 inhabitants whom 1,346,330 lived in the built-up (or metro) area made of the 3 urban districts making it the seventh-most-populous city in Turkey. Konya is a large and industrially developed city and the capital of Konya Province.
The Konya region has been inhabited since the 3rd millennium BC and was ruled by various civilizations such as Hittite, Phrygian, Persian, Hellenistic and Roman ones. Konya was known as Iconium during classical antiquity. In the 11th century the Seljuk Turks conquered the area and began ruling over its Rûm (Byzantine) inhabitants making Konya the capital of their new Sultanate of Rum. Under the Seljuks, the city reached the height of its wealth and influence. Following the demise of Rum, Konya came under the rule of the Karamanids, before being taken over by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. After the Turkish War of Independence the city became part of the modern Republic of Turkey.
Konya was known in classical antiquity and during the medieval period as Ἰκόνιον (Ikónion) in Greek (with regular Medieval Greek apheresis Kónio(n)) and as Iconium in Latin. Ikónion is the Hellenization of an older Luwian name Ikkuwaniya.
By some the name Ikónion is commonly explained as a derivation from εἰκών (icon), as an ancient Greek legend ascribed its name to the “eikon” (image), or the “gorgon’s (Medusa’s) head”, with which Perseus vanquished the native population before founding the city.
According to the Suda, Perseus after he married Andromeda founded the city and called it Amandra (Ἄμανδραν) and the city had a stele depicting the Gorgon. The city later changed the name to Ikonion because it had the depiction (ἀπεικόνισμα) of the Gorgon.
In some historic English texts, the city’s name appears as Konia or Koniah.
Excavations have shown that the region was inhabited during the Late Copper Age, around 3000 BC. The city came under the influence of the Hittites around 1500 BC. Later it was overtaken by the Sea Peoples in around 1200 BC.
The Phrygians established their kingdom in central Anatolia in the 8th century BC. Xenophon describes Iconium, as the city was called, as the last city of Phrygia. The region was overwhelmed by Cimmerian invaders c. 690 BC. It was later part of the Persian Empire, until Darius III was defeated by Alexander the Great in 333 BC. Alexander’s empire broke up shortly after his death and the town came under the rule of Seleucus I Nicator. During the Hellenistic period the town was ruled by the kings of Pergamon. As Attalus III, the last king of Pergamon, was about to die without an heir, he bequeathed his kingdom to the Roman Republic. Once incorporated into the Roman Empire, under the rule of emperor Claudius, the city’s name was changed to Claudioconium, and during the rule of emperor Hadrianus to Colonia Aelia Hadriana.
According to the Acts of the Apostles, the apostles Paul and Barnabas preached in Iconium during their first Missionary Journey in about 47–48 AD, having been persecuted in Antioch. Their visit to the synagogue of the Jews in Iconium divided the Jewish and non-Jewish communities between those who believed Paul and Barnabas’ message and those who did not believe, provoking a disturbance during which attempts were made to stone the apostles. They fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia. (This experience is also mentioned in the Second Letter to Timothy, 19th century American theologian Albert Barnes suggested that Timothy had been present with Paul in Iconium, Antioch and Lystra). Paul and Silas probably visited it again during Paul’s Second Missionary Journey in about 50, as well as near the beginning of his Third Missionary Journey several years later. The city became the seat of a bishop, which in ca. 370 was raised to the status of a metropolitan see for Lycaonia, with Saint Amphilochius as the first metropolitan bishop.
In Christian legend, based on the apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla, Iconium was also the birthplace of Saint Thecla, who saved the city from attack by the Isaurians.
Under the Byzantine Empire, the city was part of the Anatolic Theme. During the 8th to 10th centuries, the town and the nearby (Caballa) Kaballah Fortress (Turkish: Gevale Kalesi) were a frequent target of Arab attacks as part of the Arab–Byzantine wars.