Divrigi Mosque and Hospital

We had an appointment for 11.30 at the mosque, which is currently undergoing major renovation The site foreman was certainly not pleased to see us, and in the end we were allowed reluctantly into the site for 30 minutes before being unceremoniously bundled out.

This is an ornately decorated mosque and hospital complex built in 1228-1229 by the local dynasty of the Mengujekids in the small eastern Anatolian town of Divriği. The exquisite carvings and architecture of both buildings place them among the most important works of architecture in Anatolia and led to their inclusion on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1985.

The main entrance to the mosque is on the northern side and is marked by a tall portal which is celebrated for the quality and density of its high-relief stone carving. An entrance on the western side may be from a later date as this façade of the mosque had collapsed and was rebuilt at a later date when it was also strengthened by a round buttress on the north-western corner. A third entrance to the mosque is located on the eastern façade. This entrance appears to have served as a royal entrance which gave access to the raised wooden platform in the southeastern corner of the mosque's interior, reserved for the ruler and his entourage.

The interior of the mosque consists of stone piers which support the stone vaults above. The central bay of the mosque appears to have been left open to the sky, as is the case in other medieval Anatolian mosques which omit courtyards. Some of the original wooden furnishings of the mosque survive along its qibla wall, such as the shutters on the window opening to the tomb chamber within the hospital and its wooden minbar dating to 1243 .

The hospital is entered through its portal on the western façade. The hospital portal is framed by a monumental pointed arch and features a window in the centre. The stone carving here is of the same quality as the main mosque portal but is less dense and appears, in certain places, to be unfinished. The interior of the hospital consists of rooms and iwans placed around a covered courtyard. The hospital has a second story on its southern side which is reached by a staircase just inside the entrance. One of the rooms of the hospital was dedicated to serve as a dynastic tomb chamber. This room has a window opening to the mosque.

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Konak Restaurant

Lunch here just below the Mosque. Their specialty was a "kebab in a pot". A sort of stew was cooked in a sealed earthenware pot. When ready the chef literally broke the pot open to reveal the contents : me, I stuck to a simple bowl of yogurt for lunch

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The city was acquired by Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I (1389–1402). In 1398, Tamerlane swept into the area and his forces destroyed the city in 1400, after which it was recaptured by the Ottomans in 1408. Under the Ottomans, Sivas served as the administrative centre of the province of Rum until about the late 19th century. The Armenian Apostolic Church maintained six Armenian churches in Sivas. During the genocide against Armenians as well as against Greek Christians in 1915, the Christian and Armenian communities of Sivas were effectively wiped out.

In 1993 there was a very nasty event, the Sivas Massacre , when 35 people were killed in a political attack on a hotel (it was about 200 metres from where we stayed)

A cultural hub as well as an industrial one, Sivas contains many examples of 13th-century Seljuk architecture. The Mavi Medrese from 1271, the Şifaiye Medresesi from 1218 and the Çifte Minare Medresesi from 1271, with its intricately carved façade and minarets, are among the most noteworthy monuments. The oldest surviving mosque is the Grand Mosque (Ulu Camii) completed in 1196 which is famous for its simplicity.

The city is also famous for its Medreses (Islamic seminaries). Gök Medresesi (the Celestial Madrasa; depicted on the obverse of the Turkish 500 lira banknote of 1927-1939) and Mavi Medrese.

The city also contains some fine examples of the Ottoman architectural style. Kurşunlu Hamamı (Leaden Bath) which was completed in 1576, is the largest Turkish bath in the city and it contains many details from the classical Ottoman bath building. Behrampaşa Hanı (Caravansarai), was completed in 1573 and it is famous for the lion motifs around its windows.

The modern heart of the city is Hükümet Square located beside the Governor's mansion.

Apart from viewing the mosques and medresesi, I was very taken by the copper artist we came across. I really would have liked to have bought one of his works, but I realised that it was not a practical proposition to carry it all the way back home, on top of all our other luggage. The artist told me that he understood and that he was honoured and that it was enough for him that I admired his works

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Buruciye Hotel

This is a really nice hotel in the centre of the city. So within walking distance of the tourist sights. Of special mention is the breakfast. A wonderful selection of different fresh breads, cakes and buns. Plus a generous buffet far superior to most we encountered in Turkey

The only two small criticisms I have are that the lift is not well programmed and I found it easier to haul our bags up the stairs than wait for it. And when climbing the stairs, I found the rails were somewhat loose in places. No sure whether the swimming was segregated in the hotel pool & sauna or not - so check at reception. But these minor points apart, everything was satisfactory with our stay here. I would recommend it to anyone wanting a stay in the city, and I would certainly stay here again myself

It was (still) Pam's birthday and we had both a birthday drink and a birthday cake at dinner in the hotel restaurant.

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Lezzetci Sivas Mutfagi Restaurant in Sivas

We had lunch here. The restaurant is very central, and is large in going up several floors. The Atmosphere and the decor are exceptional. The service is cheerful and professional

However the food is largely canteen food that has been pre-cooked earlier in the day (yes sir, fresh cooked this morning) It then sits in bain-maries until it is sold. This is typical of many (perhaps most) Turkish restaurants outside Istanbul. By and large food that has stewed in a bain marie for several hours does taste as if it has been in a bain marie for several hours. But Chris and I did share a freshly cooked trout, which was delicious.

Nevertheless I rated this restaurant quite highly because it was a pleasure to sit there and enjoy the ambience. If they could only improve the food it would be perfect!

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Next morning we head west again to Amasya

On to next town - Amasya

Back to Overall Itinerary for Silk Road Trip 2016