Kayseri, built on the sit of ancient Caesarea, one of the biggest and most important historic cities of Anatolia, It is also one of the most beautiful Turkish – Seljuk architecture and decorative art, the remains of which are still in a good state of preservation.
Kayresi is the city of Mausoleums. It swarms not onl with Seljuk mausoleums, but also with tfeir mosques all of which are of great artistic value.
Kayseri, known in ancient times as Mazaca or Euse-ba, was the capital of Cappadocia and stood some 550 yards south – west of the present city. The name of Mazaca is supposed to have been drived from Mesech, son of Japhet, and the name Euseba from that of Eusebs, king of Cappadocia.
We have no evidence of the date of founding ol the city at its present site. According to same Western authors, the early city was not fortified and was therefore open to continuous attacks from the Persians. The Byzantine Emperor Justinianus built the present citadel and laid the foundation for the present city within its walls. Other European authors claim an Islamic origin for the citadel.
Tiberius, who conquared Cappadocia in 17 A. D., also captured Mazaca, annexed it to the Roman Empire and forced the last Cappadocian ruler, Archelanus, to call the city Caesarea. During the Roman period, the city was adorned with temples and Roman customs were introduced.
Christianity arrived very early in Kayseri, most probably during the first century, when it was practiced in grottoes under great secrecy, attested to by the solitary rock churches of Göreme. But the Christian Church became organized during the second and third centuries, although Christians were subject to persecution during the reigns of Diocletian and Julian.
During the conquest of Islam, Kayseri was several' times temporarily captured by Arabs in the eighth and ninth centuries.
The city reached the climax of its prosperity under the Seljuk Turks when it became one of their capitals along with Konya and Sivas. Alaaddin Keykubat spent most of his time in Kayseri, and from there he laun ched his great campaigns. After the Karamanidc dynasty of Seljuk was defated by Mehmet II, conqueror of Istan bul, Kayseri was made a part of the Ottoman Empire.
Kayseri is one of the larger towns of central Anatolia (pop. 732.410). It adjoins the provinces of Yozgat and Sivas in the north, of Adana in the south, of Mara? in the east and of Ni?de and Nev?ehir in the west.
The history of Mazaka (as Kayseri was called in earlier times) goes back to 2000 B.C. The terracotta tablets with cuneiform script on them, the statues and other artifacts which were unearthed at Kultepe situated 22 km. to the northeast of Kayseri are proof of its importance as a Hittite town. These artifacts, kept now in the museums of Kayseri and Kültepe, are the first of their kind discovered in Anatolia.
We understand from the tablets that Kayseri was an important Hittite centre of commerce and that even Assyrian merchants came here to trade. Kayseri was ruled also by the Romans, and later by the Byzantines. Various monuments and temples were built here in Roman times and coins were minted in the name of the Roman emperor; such coins, most of them bronze, are frequently found in the region.
After the spread throughout Cappadocia, including Kayseri, of Christianity, all such temples and monuments were destroyed by the Byzantines. When the Byzantine empire started to decline, various races invaded the Kayseri region. During the advance of Islam in this direction the region was invaded several times by Arab armies (690-726 A.D.). After the battle of Manzikert (1071) the Seljukids captured it. Later it was conquered by Emir Gazi. The Seljukid sultan Kilij Arslan II took Kayseri back from the Danishmend In 1174, and under his rule the town flourished and many buildings were added to it.
Most of the still surviving monuments in Kayseri date back from this period: the mausoleum of Hunat Hatun, Hatun mosque, the medrese of Hunat Hatun, the "revolving dome", Kilij Arslan mosque, Kulak mosque, Kurshunlu mosque are the more important among them. Beside Kayseri, the Seljukids had baths, inns, med-reses, mosques and caravanserais built in many other towns. They are all decorated with beautiful works of art.
The finest building surviving from the Seljukid period is the Sultan Han (Inn), 50 km. from Kayseri, on the Sivas highway. It was built by Aladdin Keykubad at a time when Seljukid art had reached its zenith; the carvings at the main gate and on the chapel are particularly beautiful.
Kilij Arslan II later divided his kingdom among his sons and he himself went into retirement at Konya. But the power struggle among his sons, which followed this partition, grew to such dimen¬sions that they even marched against him.
Kayseri was added to the Ottoman state in 1399 by Yildinm Beyazid; after his defeat at the battle of Ankara, Timur (Tamerlane) destroyed the whole town, razing even the citadel to the ground. Kayseri was later ruled by the DulkadiroQullan and the Karaman-ogullan; it was the latter who rebuilt the citadel.
After the battle between the Karaman ruler, Pir Ahmed, and the Ottoman sultan, Mehmed the Conqueror, Kayseri again became part of Ottoman territory but fell into neglect until the foundation of the Republic, since which time it has been enjoying a continual growth.
Historical Sites and Monuments
The Citadel : Although its foundation was probably laid during reign of Justinianus (527-565 A. D.,) the citadel as a whole is certainly of Selçuk origin. Yo?un Burç (the Tick Tower) was built in 1212 by Izzeddin Keykavus I. the Inner Castle and Arrow Depot (Ok Deposu) in 1224 by Alâaddin Keykubat, and the Tower of Hasan Bece in 1465 by Pir Ahmet Bey.
Honat Hatun Medresesi : Consists of a mosque, a college, and a mausoleum, built in 1237 by Mahperi Sultan or Honat Hatun, mother of G?yaseddin Keyhüs-rev II and considered as the most magnificent specimen of Turkish Seljuk architecture not only in Kayseri but in all of Anatolia. The college (medrese) in used now as a museum.
The Museum of Kayseri : houses a rich collection of Hittite tablets discovered at Kiiltepe near Kayseri, Hit-tite lions, Greco – Roman, Byzantine works, etc.
Ulu Cami (the Great Mosque) : was built in 1136 by Mehmet Gazi, a Danishmendite vizier and repaired during the reign of Gryaseddin I Keyhiishev in 1189 by Hac? Halil.
Külük Mosque : This group, consisting of a mosque, a college, and a bath-house was built by Ads?z Elti Hatun, daughter of the Seljukide vizier Muzaffe-reddin Mahmut. It was restored in 1305 and 1134 by küçük Semseddin.
Kur?unlu Mosque : Constructed in 1580 by the famous Turkish architect. Sinan, builder of the mosque of Süleymaniye in Istanbul.
Döner Kümbet : or the Turning Mausoleum is situated in a historic cemetery on the road to Talas. This mausoleum, constructed by ?ah Cihan Hatun for an unknown Seljuk princess, dates from the twelfth century and is considered a masterpiece of Seljuk art.