Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği
Divriği, Sivas, Turkey
Hegira 626/ AD 1228–9
Architect: Ahmed Naqqash Hılatî; Architect both at the mosque and the hospital: Hürrem Shah bin Muğis al-Hılatî; Woodwork master: Ahmed bin Ibrahim at-Tiblisî; Calligrapher: Muhammad; Calligrapher and artist/naqqash: Ahmed bin Muhammad (AH 10th / AD 16th century).
Ahmet Shah bin Süleyman Shah.
The Divriği Great Mosque (Ulu Cami), together with the Turan Melik Darüşşifa, the hospital adjoining it to the south, covers a rectangular area of approximately 32 m x 64 m.
The mosque with its basilical layout is accessed via two portals, one to the north and the other to the west. At the south end of the eastern façade is an opening which today functions as a window, but which originally provided access to the royal loge. A massive buttress built in the Ottoman period supports the cylindrical minaret rising on the northwest corner.
The prayer hall comprises five aisles formed by four rows of arches extending perpendicular to the mihrab wall. Four piers in each row are also connected with each other and to the walls in the east to west direction. Twenty-five bays formed by 16 piers (later thickened to strengthen them) are covered by domes or vaults. The bay before the mihrab is surmounted with a 12-foil dome. The central bay, covered with an oval dome, has a snow basin. Most of the eight vaults over the bays of the two eastern aisles are star-vaults. The bays of the western aisles, though, have oval domes. The superstructure along with the western façade collapsed in an earthquake in the early AH 10th / AD 16th century. It is thought, therefore, that the present oval domes replaced the original vaulting. The mihrab niche is formed with rich convex and concave profiles.
The walls, portals, minaret and the superstructure were built with dressed-stone blocks of various sizes while the minbar and window-shutters are of wood.
Flamboyant decoration adorns the portals, mihrab, minbar and the piers. The north portal, also called the 'Baroque Portal', is noteworthy for the rosettes, arabesques, and various leaf motifs in the wide decorative band, while the west portal, also called the 'Textile Portal', has vegetal decoration as well as geometric motifs and bird figures. The east portal, later converted to a window, is renowned for its geometric and vegetal decoration. The north portal of the mosque and the portal of the hospital have particularly imposing and extensively decorated disks. The wooden minbar has vegetal, geometric and calligraphic decoration in techniques including pseudo-kündekari, deep carving with rounded surfaces and openwork.
The Turan Melik Darüşşifa (24 m x 32 m) was built to the same width and at the same time as the mosque and adjoins it on the south side. Accessed from the west, the hospital has an Anatolian madrasa layout with three iwans and a covered courtyard. The structure is partly two-storied. Its portal with vegetal and geometric decoration in high relief and deep mouldings recalls Gothic features.
The Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği is a rare monument whose decoration departs from traditional Anatolian Seljuq style and design. Christian masters and architects probably worked together with Muslim masters on its construction. The structure is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
Included on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, the complex is considered a 'miracle'. The mosque was commissioned by Ahmed Shah, son of Süleyman Shah, the Mengüjekid emir, and the hospital adjoining it by Melike Turan. Its carved decorations project out markedly to give the structure Baroque qualities. The basilical mosque and the hospital with the layout of a madrasa with three iwans and a covered courtyard are both covered with a variety of domes and vaults. The architects of the complex were from Ahlat in eastern Anatolia while the master of the wooden minbar was from Tblisi, Georgia.
According to the construction inscriptions on the north and west portals, the mosque was built by Ahmed Shah, son of Süleyman Shah Mengücekli, in 626 / 1229. The inscription on the balustrade of the minbar tells that Ahmed Shah ordered the construction of the minbar in 638 / 1241. The inscription inside the star motif in the middle of the left (east) side of the minbar gives the name the master as Ahmed of Tbilisi, son of Ibrahim. According to the inscription on its portal, the hospital was built by Turan Melik in 626/ 1229.
Arel, H., “Divriği Ulu Camii Kuzey Portalinin Mimari Kuruluşu [The Architectural Structure of the North Portal of Divriği Great Mosque]”, Vakıflar Dergisi, 5 (1962), pp.99–111.
Cantay, G., Anadolu Selçuklu ve Osmanlı Darüşşifaları [Anatolian Seljuq and Ottoman Hospitals], Ankara, 1992.
Kuban, D., Divriği Mucizesi, Selçuklular çağında İslam Bezeme Sanatı üzerine Bir Deneme [The Divriği Miracle, an Essay on Islamic Decorative Art in the Seljuq Period], Istanbul, 1999.
önge, Y., Ateş, İ. and Bayram, S., Divriği Ulu Camii ve Darüşşifası [The Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği], Ankara, 1978.
ülgen, A. S., “Divriği Ulu Camii ve Darüşşifası [The Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği]”, Vakıflar Dergisi, 5 (1962), pp.93–98.
Sedat Bayrakal "Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. 2018. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;tr;Mon01;4;en
Prepared by: Sedat BayrakalSedat Bayrakal
Sedat Bayrakal works as a research assistant in the Department of Art History of the Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir. He was born in Bursa, Turkey, in 1969. He completed his elementary and secondary education in Izmir and graduated from the Department of Archaeology and Art History of the Faculty of Letters, Ege University in 1995. He completed his Master's at the same university with a thesis entitled “Single-domed mosques in Edirne”. He is completing his Ph.D. on “Early Ottoman-period Minbars (1300–1500)”.
Translation by: Barry WoodBarry Wood
Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions., İnci Türkoğluİnci Türkoğlu
İnci Türkoğlu has been working as a tourist guide and freelance consultant in tourism and publishing since 1993. She was born in Alaşehir, Turkey, in 1967. She graduated from the English Department of Bornova Anatolian High School in 1985 and lived in the USA for a year as an exchange student. She graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, and the professional tourist guide courses of the Ministry of Tourism in 1991. She worked as an engineer for a while. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, in 1997 with an undergraduate thesis entitled “Byzantine House Architecture in Western Anatolia”. She completed her Master's at the Byzantine Art branch of the same department in 2001 with a thesis entitled “Synagogue Architecture in Turkey from Antiquity to the Present”. She has published on art history and tourism.
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: TR 04
Islamic Dynasties / Period
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