Sivas, Turkey

Situated at an altitude of 1275 m, Sivas is the highest city of the Central Anatolian Region, and the most mountainous one with numerous peaks. This uneven land has been the shelter of many tribes from the earliest ages to more recent periods from which remain many notable monuments.

Sivas, being at the junction point of the Persia and Baghdad caravan routes, was once a busy commercial center. During the interval between 1142 and 1171, it was the capital of the Turkish Danismend Emirs. Later, under the rule of the Seljuks, it became a cultural center with importance given to learning and scholarship. Many related buildings were constructed, the remains of some can still be seen today.

One of the outstanding numerous Seljuk works of art and architecture is Izzeddin Keykavus Sifahanesi which was "a house of recovery" in those times, in other words "a hospital". It was built in 1217 by the order of the Seljuk Sultan, and its decoration with painted tiles is beautiful.

Gok Medresse and Buruciye Medresse, both built in 1271, constitute the best examples of wonderful Seljuk artistic works, while the Ulu Mosque of the Danismend Emirate is another fine historical monument, reflecting a different style. The Cifte Minareli Medresse of the same year, is also noteworthy with its twin minarets rising elegantly on both sides of its ornate portal.

Throughout the long history of the city, the role played by Sivas during the War of Independence is important in that the National Congress took the decision to fight for the liberalization of Turkey here in 1919. The school building used then is now the Ataturk and Congress Museum with the relevant documents of the congress and war are on display, together with ethnographical finds and local handicrafts.

165 kms southeast of Sivas is the ancient town of Divrigi, which was once a Byzantine site. By the 12th and 13th centuries, it was the capital of Turkish Mengucek Emirs, and the remains of Ulu Mosque of 1229 and a citadel remain from that period. The Baroque style portal of this magnificent mosque is a real masterpiece of stonework, and this monumental building has been declared by UNESCO to be one of the eminent cultural heritages of the world.

Besides its historical treasures, the city possesses several other specialties, one of which is Balikli Kaplica, an interesting spa of the town of Kangal. It is a thermal spring, filled with tiny fish living in the hot waters, which provides a different type of cure for skin complaints. It is the only cure center in the world for "Sedef Hastaligi" (psoriasis). Soguk Cermik is another spa center. Hafik, Todurge (Zara), and Gokpinar (Gurun) Lakes are the interesting places for picnicking, boating and fishing. Another special characteristic of this town, 68 kms south of Sivas, are the world famous Kangal dogs. These sheep dogs have proven their loyalty, and success and are confidently used in the area of police work.

Sivas is also known for its fine carpets of various designs and colors. These locally produced weavings offer a wide variety of choice, and the inherent high quality is not subject to variation.