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Fouilltes de Sagalassos

Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği

on 15/08/2013

 

Ulu Camii – Divriği

        Located on the slopes below the castle of Divriği, Sivas Province in central eastern Turkey, the Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği is a remarkable building combining a monumental hypostyle mosque with a two storey hospital, which includes a tomb. Founded by the Mengücekide emir Ahmed Shah following the victory of the Seljuk Turks over the Byzantine army at the battle of Malazgirt in 1071, 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. Internally, four rows of four piers create five naves roofed by a variety of intricately carved stone vaults. The adjoining hospital, the Darush-shifa, was founded by Ahmet Shah’s wife Turan Melek and designed by the architect Hurrem Shah, in 1228-1229. It is entered via a monumental, elaborately carved stone portal on the west, leading into a double height atrium formed by four massive piers supporting a dome with an oculus over a central pool, around which are located the hospital rooms.

The highly sophisticated technique of vault construction and a creative, exuberant type of decorative sculpture – particularly on the three doorways, in contrast to the unadorned walls of the interior – are the unique features of this masterpiece of Islamic architecture. The variety of the carved decoration indicates that is was carried out by different groups of craftsmen. The main characteristic of the designs featured in the portals is their uniqueness: each is distinct from other decorations. As well as portals, all bases, shafts and capitals of the columns, and the inner surface of the dome and the vaults, were decorated in a distinct and unique style. There are no other examples of the three-dimensional and intricate geometric styles and flowing figures of plants. The vaulting of the hospital room is comparable in scientific achievement to that of the prayer hall of the Mosque, and shares the splendid unity of the Great Mosque.


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