Where is Divrigi?

Republic of Turkey is divided to seven regions. Popular destinations like Cappadocia, Ankara and Konya are located in the Central Anatolian Region. There are twelve provinces entirely or mostly in this region. Smaller parts of four provinces are also within the borders of Central Anatolia. Sivas is the second biggest province of republic of Turkey in terms of size. Divrigi is a town in Sivas which is only two hours away from Sivas city. Sivas airport can be used to reach to the beautiful Divrigi Great Mosque and Hospital besides the airports in Kayseri and Malatya provinces. If you are touring the Eastern part of Republic of Turkey, you can arrive to Sivas after a three hour drive from Erzincan city and drive up to the Black Sea Coast or down to Cappadocia after exploring this phenomenal structure.

Divrigi Ulu Cami ve Sifahanesi

The Great Mosque and Hospital of Divrigi is called Divrigi Ulu Cami and Sifahanesi in Turkish language. After the Great Migration of Turks from the center of Asia to Near East and Middle East, they established the Seljukian Empire occupying the whole Near East and Middle East. In 1071, after the battle of Manzikert, Turkish influence in Anatolia started to increase. Divrigi region was occupied by the Mengujekids during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries along with Sebinkarahisar, Kemah and Erzincan. These Turkish communities has started to build phenomenal structures which can be seen almost all Central, South Eastern and Eastern Anatolian Regions. For me, The Great Mosque and Hospital of the Divrigi is the best of them. During the Seljukian and Ottoman times, mosque complexes included a school, hospital, soup kitchen or all. Locally called as Kulliye, these structures were the center of education, health and religion. After settling in Divrigi and environs, Mengujekids filled up this gap with the project of Great Mosque and Hospital of Divrigi. It is the most beautiful Middle Age structure of Anatolia. The carvings on the stones are breathtaking which amazes every traveler.

Poem of Carvings

Master worked so hard on this mosque, the monumental doors and the walls that the tongues are barren and the pen is broken in praise.

– Evliya Celebi

If the art of stone carving in the Middle Ages was poetry, the poem would be the monumental gates of the Great Mosque and Hospital of Divrigi. The structure was built in between 1228 and 1229. The architect of the both buildings were Shah Hurrem from Ahlat. Ahlat is a small town in Eastern Anatolia famous for huge tomb stones. We can see the Persian influence in the names and titles of the people. The Mosque was funded by Shah Ahmad while the Hospital was funded by his wife Turan Melek. The building has two sections. The Mosque has two portal gates while the hospital section has only one. The whole structure is around two thousand square kilometers. While the average height of the mosque is ten meters, the hospitals ceilings are reaching to twelve meters from the floor. The Octagonal dome of the mosque is twenty five meters above the ground and the minaret of the mosque is twenty four meters. The mosque has stone pillars carrying the roof of the structure. The center of the mosques ceiling was open before which was a common tradition in Anatolian Mosques built by the Turkish people. The wooden carvings of the mihrab and minber of the mosque were very intricate as well. Some of them can be seen in the mosque today while the majority is in Anatolian Civilizations Museum in Ankara. The hospital of the structure has a portal gate with beautiful stone carvings as well. The first chamber of the hospital has a pool in the middle. The other smaller chambers were used for treatments of the patients. There is a dynastic tomb chamber in between the mosque and the hospital dedicated to the donors of the structure.

First Example of Sciography

Sciography is coming from Greek language meaning shadow writing. It is a form of art and science using the perspective of light and shades. The monumental gates of the Divrigi Mosque and Hospital has impressive three dimensional carvings. The architect used sciography to create a praying man silhouette shadow on the entrance of the mosque which changes as the sun moves. As pictures are avoided in Islam, the architect must have used sciography and stone carvings of the mosque creatively to add difference to the structure. The Great Mosque and Hospital ofDivrigi is a UNESCO heritage site since 1985.

Video of Divrigi Great Mosque and Hospitals shadows on its monumental gates

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