Karaman (formerly Larende) is a town in south central Turkey, located north of the Taurus Mountains, ca 100 km (62 mi) south of Konya. It is the capital district of the Karaman Province. According to 2000 census, population of the district is 152,450 of which 105,834 live in the town of Karaman. The district covers an area of 3,686 km² (1,423 sq mi), and the town lies at an average elevation of 1,039 m (3,409 ft). The Karaman Museum is one of the major sights.
The town owes its name to Karaman Bey who was one of the rulers of the Karamanids. The former name comes from the Greek Laranda which in turn comes from the Luwian language Larawanda, literally "sandy, a sandy place".
In ancient times Karaman was known as Laranda. It was destroyed by Perdiccas in about 322 BC and later became a seat of Isaurian pirates. It belonged to the Roman and later Byzantine Empire until it was captured by the Seljuks in the early 12th century. Karaman was occupied by Frederick Barbarossa in 1190. It was subsequently an important military site as part of the Cilician Armenian Kingdom, until they lost it. In 1256, the town was taken by the Turkish warlord Karamanoğlu Mehmet Bey and was renamed Karaman in his honour. From 1275, Karaman was the capital of the emirate (and later Ottoman province) of Karamanid. In 1468 Karamanid was conquered by the Ottomans and in 1483 the capital of the province was moved to Konya. Karaman has retained ruins of a Karamanid castle and some walls, two mosques and a Koran school (madrasah) from that age. An exquisite mihrab from a mosque from Karaman can now be found in the Çinili Pavilion near today's Archeology Museum in Istanbul. Many Armenians and Greeks who originated from this area still maintain the name Karaman within their surnames. Ex. In Greek 'Karamanis or Karamanlis'. In Armenian 'Karamanian or Karamanoukian'. The Surname of the Prime Minister of Greece is also Karamanlis.
Its former Christian status is reflected by the fact that there was a Roman Catholic titular see for the city.
Yunus Emre (c. 1238-1320), the poet resided in Karaman and is believed to be buried beside the Yunus Emre Mosque. A small adjacent park is adorned with quotations from his verse, many of them unfortunately graffiti-splattered. In 1222, the Sufi preacher Bahaeddin Veled arrived in town with his family, and the Karamanoğlu emir built a medrese to accommodate them. Veled's son was the famous Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi, who married his wife, Gevher Hatun, while his family was living in Karaman. It was here, too, that his mother died in 1224. Today she is buried, along with other family members, in the Aktekke Mosque (also known as the Mader-i Mevlana Cami), which Alaeddin Ali Bey had built to replace the original medrese in 1370.