Divrigi Great Mosque and Hospital are an ornately decorated mosque and a medical complex recognized for their exquisite carvings and architecture.
In 1228-29, while Divrigi was under the rule of the Bey of Mengücek Emir Ahmed Shah, he commissioned the mosque which stands fully intact. The adjoining Hospital was built simultaneously with the mosque by Turan Melek Sultan. The geometrical and floral patterned reliefs found on the main door in particular attract great interest. The architect probably was inspired by Armenian and Georgian constructions.
Map of DivrigiLoad map
We visited the Divriği Great Mosque (Ulu Camii) and Hospital (Darüşşifası), an extraordinary example of Islamic art, twice in recent months. Once in spring amidst a deep green landscape coming by car from Sivas, which is about a three hour drive away. It is an important historical site in its own right with some of the most impressive Seljuk monuments like the Şifaiye Madrasah, an important medical school in the 13th century, and the Gök Madrasah and the Double Minaret Madrasah or the Subaşı Han, an Ottoman-period Caravanserai still used today as spice market. Sivas is also the place where the 1919 Congress was held, one of the stepping stones in establishing the Republic of Turkey. On the way to Divriği we passed through Kangal, the home of Turkey’s famous shepherd dogs.
The second visit took place in February 2020. We had come overnight from Ankara on the fabulous (Doğu) Eastern Express Train via Kayseri and Sivas. We arrived at Divriği station in the early morning. The scene was winter wonderland with a good half meter of snow at minus 15°C. After a hearty breakfast close to the railway station we went up to the Great Mosque of Divriği passing several kumbets (small mausoleums with a pointed dome) and the citadel. The mosque and hospital complex is currently undergoing restoration work; there is a lot of scaffolding and a metal roof covering the building. The site is likely to reopen in the course of 2020 or 2021.
Like on the previous occasion we were lucky that the mosque’s imam was there and showed us around. He explained that the first Turkish buildings inscribed in 1985 on the World Heritage List were the Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği. Built in the 13th century the complex is famous for its traditional stone carving decorations on the gates to both the Hospital and the Mosque. The Hospital was revolutionary for its time as it was known for trying to heal the sick applying water and music treatments.
Our first visual impression was the almost baroque and gothic style of the gates had it not been actually Seljuk. Every ornamental figure is a unique piece of art displaying a three-dimensional geometric style. Some are designed in a such a way that they throw shadows of praying men and women; some are designed as rotating pieces, now no longer moving because of damage sustained in earthquakes. Apparently because of the hard winter conditions there is no courtyard and no outdoors ablutions place but rather a closed single building complex.
From afar the mosque looks plain but once you come closer to the great portals, particularly the Paradise or Castle portal, and once you step inside you will be amazed by the building’s features, its prayer room with the two crowning domes. The mimbar is made of ebony and is as old as the mosque and still in use. Now with the restoration work going on we could even climb up to the domes.
You can come by train or bus from Istanbul or Ankara; by minibus or car from Sivas where there is the closest airport. Hotels and restaurants as well as tea houses can be found in Divriği. Given the ongoing restorations you should check if the mosque is accessible at the time of your visit.
Divrigi is about 600 kilometers from Ankara, so it takes a little while to get there by car. I'm sure you can get there by bus, but it would be quite a long haul. The town of Divrigi is a small village perched on a hillside and the fall was the perfect time to go. I will say the signage to teh Mosque and hospital complex was a little lacking, but it is a small town, so we did find it. Using the word "complex", I expected a larger area then the one building that housed both of the facilities. The outside of the building is pretty non-descript until you get up close to the doors. There were so many carvings and it was so intricately done. They were gorgeous! The first part is the mental hospital, and going inside there are carved columns and a few tombs. Next door was the mosque and it is very much in use today, so it's best to stay away during prayer times. There was no cost to enter this site, but there was a small tea kiosk inside the walls. We felt obligated to buy a cup of tea and watch the visitors that came. There was only one other foreigner there, a European. I wouldn't say this was one of the most interesting World Heritage Sites in Turkey, but I probably would not have made the effort to go otherwise, and honestly that would have been dissappointing, because I had not seen any other mosques decorated in that fashion. If you have some time to kill, and especially if you don't mind renting a car and driving, I would try to do this site. To see some photos and read more about Turkey, please visit my website at http://rovingvails.com/blog/2011/11/07/hdr-divrigi/ .
I've been there in August 2008. A place really worth to visit (although finding accomodation in the town is somehow difficult) hosting valuable historical remains but also home to a beautiful natural landscape. I traveled there from Sivas by the morning train along a breathtaking river valley and I came back the same day by the local minibus in the late afternoon. The six hours that we spent there were quite enough to visit the Great Mosque & Hospital Complex (UNESCO World Heritage), to climb to the Kale (Citadel) Hill, to walk through the picturesque narrow streets of the city centre and to have a brief lunch but were insufficient to visit all the historical monuments (mosques, tombes, old houses) spread all around. I would reccomend a 1-2 full days visit.
hi everybody, first i want to thanks pople that have very nce comments about our beatiful town. I grew IN Divrigi which has very nice history and people. I reccomend everybody to visit this gorcious town without any doubt. Even people can't find hotel to stay, Divrigi's people will be velcome to tourists to stay at their houses.
Hello every one.I would like mentioned that all Divrigi region despite being biggest contributor of Turkish economy with their iron mines. Divrigi region never receive any government funds due to it's non corrupt and democratic Alevi population. Conclusion this part of the Turkey pack with one of kindest people.So I'am urging everybody to go and feel all the beautiful spirits of the Divirigi and Odur Castle.
Hi everybody. I am from Divrigi in Turkey. Above text is very nice. Now, your listen a little bit to me.
The history of the town dates back to the Hittites (BC 90). Having been called as Teprice-Tefrike in Roman Period, this town was also named 'Divrik' in Ibni Bibi's Seljukname and in some other works and inscriptions in 13 th century. As it is today, the name of the town was 'Divrigi' in Evliya Çelebi's travel book.
Really, Great Mosque(Ulu Cami)is very very great. The ruler Suleyman Sahoglu Ahmet Sah of the Mengucek tribe built the Great Mosque in 1228. Entrance, having 1280 sq. meterscentral countryard, is through the three soberbly decorated stone work gates on the west, north, and south. The Medical Center was built by Berham Sah's daughter Melike Turan Melek in 1228. This unique monument is 768 sq. meters. As it was transformed into a Medresseh, it was also called Sifaiye Medresseh. The construction of building lasted quite long. The minbar of the mosque, which is the best example of Seljukian timber work, was made by Tiflisian ibrahim's son Ahmet in 1240. Under the control of Unesco's protection work, there are 440 natural and cultural riches in the list of "World Cultural Heritage" . Nine cultural and natural riches have been included in this list. One of the first three riches in Turkey is The Great Mosque of Divrigi and Medical Center.
Divrigi Castle was built by Mengucekogullari and today it's a unique Turkish Castle. Its rampart length is 1.5 kms. Most of it was built by Mengucekogullari in 13 th century. Traces of a mosque, a cistern, a granery, and some rock hollows can still be found. Apart from this castle, there are Kesdogan Castle and Odur (Kayabumu) Castle as well.
Kale (Castle) Mosque was built by Sahin Sah, the son of Emir Ishak's son Suleyman Shah in 1180. It is very important because of its being one of the oldest buildings.
Cedit Pasha Mosque was built by Kose Mustafa Pasha in 1799. Its minaret is bonded with black-white and
Furthermore, the other historical buildings are as follows; Abi Cimen Mosque (1840), Gokce Mosque (1844), Zeliha Hatun Mosque (1869), Haci Osman Masjit, Kemankes Mosque, Semsi Bezirgan Mosque, Kurtul Ahmet Pasa Masjid, Suleyman Aga Masjid and Turabi Masjit.
So, come to my town, now...Allahaismarladik(GoodBye)
I spent a day in Divrigi in May 2003 whilst making a trip from the west to east of Turkey. This place is a marvel and it is a shame that so few tourists come here. Of course the most famous attraction here is the Grand Mosque, but there are quite a few other archtectural remains from pre-Ottoman Turkish times: the ruined castle and the burial chambers (turbe) that bear testament to times when Divrigi was a major settlement. It was prized for its iron ore, which is still the major form of economic activity here today. However, for me as a fan of the genre the old Ottoman town houses were probably the greatest delight. These wonderful half-wood half-brick constructions have almost completely dissapeared from the urban regions of Turkey, their places taken by soulless apartment blocks. For me, Divrigi above all is a living museum of Ottoman architecture. I don't recall seeing a single ugly apartment block. You can roam for hours here through an unspoilt sea of twisting little lanes flanked by traditional Turkish town houses, and a lot of them have been kept in quite good condition. Then there is the natural beauty of the place. A fast flowing river passes just by the town, the railway follows this course. This river has cut a steep ravine in the mountains. Take the path up to the castle from the road leading from the town centre to the railway station and continue round from the castle for a really spectacular view of this ravine. (I don't mean the approach to the castle from the Grand Mosque - you can't get round to the side with the view from here!) On the way back down double back along the path taking you past some commercial-looking buildings and you are right beside the river. We are really talking far from the madding crowd. For the most part the landscape in this part of the province of Sivas consists of gentle, green pastureland with higher land in the background. It really is a good place to come for some peaceful inner contemplation. In a word I was totally enraptured by the place. As a postscript, I should add that I am a fluent Turkish speaker and you may seriously have problems locating anyone who can speak a foreign language here. The local people are very genuine and friendly however, although you should realise that this region of Turkey is noted for being fairly fundamentalist, and visitors should make some effort to avoid behaviour that may upset devout Muslims. On the other hand a lot of people in this area belong to the liberal Alawite sect which is characterised by tolerance and open mindedness. There has been intersectarian strife in the region in the past between Alawites and mainstream Sunnis, so I would certainly advise steering clear of this topic.
I stayed at the Belediye Hotel near the station. A single room with en-suite shower costs in the region of 4-5 USD per night. It is basic but very clean and well run.
It was one of the most beautiful things I've seen in my life, so alluring and ritualistic..
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