You may wish to see an introductory page to this section first.
We entered a deep pass in
trachytic rocks, and fording the stream of Berastik, we
ascended hills of more gentle slope, made one more
descent, fording the river of Karsi, and then ascended
the Efumbat Tagh, from whence we descended to the
vale of Divriki, where we arrived after dusk. (..) It is a town of about 10,000 inhabitants, of
whom 2000 are Christians. Every
house has its garden, so that the town occupies a wide
William F. Ainsworth - Travels and Researches in Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Chaldea, and Armenia - 1842
Kumbets (mausoleums with a pyramidal dome)
The 1071 Byzantine defeat at Manzikert opened the Anatolian tableland to the invasion of Turkish tribes. While the Sultanate of Rum was established on most of the central tableland, its eastern part was split into small principalities: the Danishmends ruled Kayseri while the Menguceks founded a principality to the east of Sivas. Divrigi was the main town of the Mengucek principality: its rulers had the Persian title of Shah. The inhabitants lived on a hill protected by walls and by a small fortress at its top. The residence of the shahs was outside the walls; there is no evidence left of their palace. In the area between the assumed location of that building and the old town they built many kumbets.
Sahin Shah (Sitte Melik) Kumbet (1194-1196)
The finest kumbet of Divrigi has many points in common with similar mausoleums in Kayseri and its decoration does not depart from the Seljuk tradition which was characterized by very low reliefs.
Walls and fortress
The rock to the west,
which overhangs the town, bears the ruins of a large
castle, with double walls, and of Saracenic origin. Ainsworth
The fortifications of Divrigi were built in various periods; in particular they are associated with the Paulicians, members of a Christian sect aimed at restoring the Christianity of the early days. The sect was founded about 660 in Armenia, but its members were persecuted by Byzantine Emperor Leo V, who was of Armenian descent. A second persecution was ordered by Empress Theodora, regent for her son Michael III in 842 to 855, and the Paulicians were forced out of Armenia; they resettled in Divrigi (at that time Tephrike); from there with the help of the Arabs they led a rebellion against the Byzantine Emperor; even Nicaea at the opposite side of Anatolia was under threat of being sacked. It was an all out war which eventually ended in 872 with the final defeat of the Paulicians. Those who surrendered were relocated in today's Bulgaria.
(left) Upper fortress; (right) Lions' Bastion
The fortifications were rebuilt by the Menguceks who placed at the very top of the hill a finely designed bastion which was embellished with corbels and statues of lions.
Located on the slopes below the castle of Divrigi, Sivas Province in central eastern Turkey, the Great Mosque and Hospital of Divrigi is a remarkable building combining a monumental hypostyle mosque with a two storey hospital, which includes a tomb. (..) The mosque is dominated externally by the hexagonal, pointed roofed dome over its mihrab (prayer niche), a cupola over the ablutions basin in the centre of the prayer hall and elaborately carved monumental stone portals on the north and west.
UNESCO: from the criteria supporting the inscription of the complex in the World Heritage List in 1985.
Today Divrigi is a small town; road connections are very poor and few would venture to visit it if it were not for an extremely interesting monument: a complex made up of a mosque (cami) and a hospital (darussifah) which was built by the Menguceks in 1228.
Ulu Cami and Darussifah (western side); the image used as background for this page shows a detail of the decoration of the portal
The Divrigi Mosque is an outstanding example of a Seljuk mosque in Anatolia, as it neither has a courtyard, colonnades nor an uncovered ablutions basin, but rather organizes all religious functions in an enclosed area, owing perhaps to the harshness of the climate. A charitable foundation, the contiguous hospital makes an already exceptional ensemble even more interesting, thanks to a princely command. UNESCO
The mosque is associated with Ahmed Shah, the ruler of the principality, and the adjoining hospital with his consort Melike Turan Melek. The eight-sided roof covers the main hall of the mosque. The whole complex was designed by Hurrem, an architect who came from Ahlat, a town on Lake Van, the easternmost region of today's Turkey. Hurrem brought with him skilled masons and stonecutters.