Ulu Mosque

THE GREAT (ULU) MOSQUE AND MEDICAL CENTER (DARUSSIFA) IN DIVRIGI

After Malazgirt Victory, The Turkish settled down in Divrigi, a settling place for various civilizations, Mengucek Gazi, the commander of Alparslan, established the state called Mengucekogullan, gathering Erzincan, Kemah, and Divrigi. During this period, Divrigi developed and gave importance to the constructions of social institutions and wrote a history as a district governed by a peaceful Beylik, worthy of being praised because of the monuments they erected.

Ahmet Shah, son of Mengucek, and his wife Turan Melek built the Ulu Mosque in Divrigi in 1228. It is a high qualified work of art, another example of which is never met in Anatolia. It has a special style, very different from stone- constructions of its period, called a wonder of Divrigi.Divrigi Ulu Mosque and its Medical Centre is in the south of Divrigi castle and on the western side of Igimbat Hill.

Divrigi Ulu Mosque was began to be constructed by Ahmet Shah in 1228, son of Suleyman Shah and grandson of Sahinshah, a bey of Mengucek, who built Kale Mosque. The chief architect of the monument is Hurremshah from Ahlat. The wooden pulpit in the mosque built in 1240, the construction of which is excellent belongs to the artisan called Ahmet, son of ibrahiill from Tiflis. The date of the original Vakfiye of the Ulu Mosque is 1243, the construction of which took a long time.

In the south of the Ulu Mosque, lies the medical centre. The tenn “The Ulu Mosque” includes both, for these two buildings cannot be distinguished from each other from near and far. Both the mosque and the medical centre are 32 x 63 m.=1280 meter square, the medical centre 24 x 32 m=768 meter square.

The mosque has 5 landings with 16 pillars and the roof of which is covered with 23 vaults and 2 domes. The pillars having 8 cornes carry large cowls. The thickness of its walls is 140 cms. It is a rare work in terms of its niche, its desing and decorative characteristics.It has 3 entrances as the Northern door, the Western door, and the Sah door in the east. There are 4 inscriptions including
dates and names, 21 notice boards including the signatures of the artisans, verses from the Koran and devotions .The Northern door, as in the Seljuk constructions,higher than the building itself. This door designed in baroque style is in 14.5 m. height, 11.5 m width and 4.5 m depth. It goes 1.6 m far towards outside. The high embossed designs, on both sides of the northern door, independent from each other and ordered symmetrically, shows a plastic appearance on each branches of which appears small trees, huge leaves and round plates on which there are embossed designs called mirror. The design of the door and its decoration is excellent with its composition, its outward appearance,well-chosen materials and embossed designs. The artisan seems to havecreated a paradise with plant motifs. 

One of the inscriptions on the door is said to have been buil in the period of Alaaddin Keykubad and the other inscription with highly embossed designs and flower motifs is said to have been built by Ahmet Shah, son of Suleyman Shah. The embossed designs of the Nightingale and the Rose within the frame of Flowers of this inscription is an interesting composition.

The exit door, on the western side of the mosque is 9.5 m. height, 6 m width and 2.6 m. depth and it goes 1.4 m. 

For on this door never met in the art of Seljuks, there is an inscription dated 1228 and the surface of which is covered with plant motifs rich in number. This door is called “Textile door” by some scientists, for it is likened to a material adorned with matchless motifs. There are one eagle on the right side and one on the left side of the door with two heads and one eagle with one head on the surface of Niche; this symbol, used as a symbol of wealth and strength by many rulers, has never been designed so elegantly anywhere else.

The Shah door, on the eastern side is also known as “Taht door”. Its surface is adorned with plant, geometric, star and coil of hair motifs. The Minaret lies at the north-west corner. This minaret with circle body was rebuilt by Kanuni Sultan Suleyman in 1523 after the main minaret had been pulled down.  

Magnificent carpets and kilims which belong to 18th and 19th centuries, have been exhibited in the Vakif Kilim and Carpet Museum in the courtyard of Sultanahmet Mosque. 

The Darussifa (medical center) which is next to the mosque in the southern side was built by Melike Turan Melek who is not only oneof the daughters of Emir of Erzincan Fahreddin Behram Shah but Ahmet Shah’s wife in 1228. It is also called Sifaiye Medrese because it was transferred into a Medrese in the 18th century. It is a unique wonderful Mengucek monument with its magnificent make-up and Tac Door, 4 Eyvans, Middle Court presenting traditional architecture of Middle Asia. Divrigi Darussifa, as 1206 Kayseri and 1217 Sivas Darusiffa, is one of the oldest Seljuki medical centers standing still till today.

Darussifa Door shows brand new architectural features in respect of height and plan. Kemer of Tac Door is semicircular in shape and looks as if a girl’s head cover and a woman’s head figure. The door is 14m high and 10.5 m deep. Its left hand side has icons hidden in triangulars. There are a woman (Shah Melek) and a man’s head figure on both sides of the outer colons. These figures symbolizes domination, welfare, happiness and hope, moon sun as seen in Sivas Darussifa.

Geometric borders of the colon sides look as arm-joins in Seljuki Kaftans arms. These colons coming from the ground show an extra ordinary art with light and shadow illusions, cartushes and palrnets in plastic shape and disquettes placed on the door. The foreheads, at the bottom of the Door Kavsara were decorated with star motifs. It is interesting to see that star motif with 5 angels was first used in Divrigi Darussifa. There is a window lightening the first floor just at the bottom of Alinlik. This rectangular and divided window is behind of an attractive small colon and restricted with a semicircular profile.

A sensitive attraction is presented in this nmonumental door with huge and massive rocks, star and moon motifs, etc.

There are two records related with Darussifa one of which expresses that it was built by Melike Turan Melek in 1228. On the other hand, the second record expresses that it was built by Hurremshah from Ahlat. You can reach the Entrance Eyvan in which there are two dorms in each sides, and by this way, you can reach the inner courtyard.There is also a small pool in the middle of the courtyard. There is a pyramidal tomb in the northern side of the Main Eyvan. 

There are 16 graves belonging to Ahmet Shah and his family. Two of them were covered with Seljuki tile and belong to Ahmet Shah and Turan Melek. You can also pass and reach the tomb through the mosque.

The oldest foundation written document related with the management of Darussifa was recorded at the end of 14th century. However, unfortunately, the original record prepared by Turan Melek cannot be found. It can easily be seen in that document that not only the establishers but also the administrative board of the foundation was established by only women.As known, there are 9 natural and cultural historical places in Turkey which are in the UNESCO preserving list, named “The World’s Cultural Heritage”. Divrigi Ulu Camii and Darussifa, being in the third in this list, is important for UNESCO with its authentic cultural architecture, aesthetic and universal values and symbolising the equality of women and men even in the l3 th century. The other historical places are in preserving list because they are site areas not a building by itself as Divrigi Ulucami and Darussifa.