Kayseri, Turkey

An ever snowy peak, rising magnificently over the Central Anatolian plateau, is Mount Erciyes (3196 m), an extinct volcano. Those who visit Kayseri, the city situated at the skirt of this mountain, first view this majestic sight. Then as they move towards the inner city, they will be amazed by the appearance of elegant minarets and domes of mosques, and the high city walls.

314 kms from Ankara, this province forms a composition of history and nature, and possesses many special features both as an ancient site and as a present-day tourist center. The city is full of many old Turkish baths, fountains, tombs, inns, mosques, and medresses.

Mount Erciyes is the most outstanding feature in this region, not only with its fascinating scenery but also with the opportunities it offers for winter sports. It is a beautiful ski-resort with many facilities, and there also exist several areas suitable for mountaineering.

At the foot of Mount Erciyes are the Sultan Marshes, 50 kms south of Kayseri. Birds of 130 species are to be found here and it is an interesting and lovely spot for bird watchers.

Besides the beauties granted by nature, Kayseri enjoys the many gifts of history, being a settlement area approximately 5000 years old. The city has played different roles throughout its long past.

By the 2nd millenium BC, the district was one of the commercial centers of the Hittites. The towns of Kultepe and Karahoyuk of Kanesh were two of these trade cities, named as "Karums" in that period.

In the later ages, the city constituted one of the cornerstones of Cappadocia after which it became a center of Christianity. In the 6th century AD, it was occupied by the Byzantines who surrounded the city with high walls. Later saw the age of Seljuk rule, during which the area was filled with numerous monumental works.

With respect to the historical signs which have remained from all these periods, the Huand (Mahperi) Hatun Mosque and Medresse, and the Mahperi Hatun Mausoleum are of importance, each dating back to the 13th century. "Kumbets", which are circular tombs with domed or conical roofs, named Doner, Cifte and Sircali, are also attractive places to see having distinctively fine decoration.

In the town of Develi are the old Seljuk buildings of Ulu Mosque, Seyid-I Serif, and Develi tomb; on the Sivas road 46 kms north of Kayseri is the Sultan Han, a caravanserai constructed during the reign of Alaeddin Keykubat.

Acting as a learning center during the Seljuk period, the city possesses many medresses, which were the theological schools of the time. Sahabiye Medresse is beautiful with its original monumental portal, and the Cifte Medresse is another, carrying the title of the first medieval school of anatomy.

Notable sites of the province of Kayseri also include the Haci Kilic Mosque of 1249, the Kosk Medresse of the Mongol period, the Archeological Museum, the Ethnographical Museum and the "bedesten" (covered bazaar). Among the many natural attractions are a lot of mineral and hot springs. Noteworthy specialties of the region are the knotted silk carpets (Bunyan), and wool rugs of Yahyali, which make beautiful souvenirs; and the delicious foods, "sucuk", "salam" and "pastirma" (sun-dried beef covered with a spicy paste).