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Great Mosque and Hospital of Divrigi

 

Brief Description

This region of Anatolia was conquered by the Turks at the beginning of the 11th century. In 1228–29 Emir Ahmet Shah founded a mosque, with its adjoining hospital, at Divrigi. The mosque has a single prayer room and is crowned by two cupolas. 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.

Miracle in Divrigi
 
The unique stone-carved ornaments seen on the two great portals (the kiblah or the northern entrance of the mosque, and the hospital gate) are the features that determine the universal artistic status of the mosque and hospital. The three-dimensionalstone carvings and sculpture-like attributes of this structure appear to be exceptions to the tradition of the Islamic Golden Age and Seljuk period, which were generally of two dimensional shapes, in line with the Islamic and Seljuk arts.
 
The Great Mosque and Hospital of Divrigi

A distinctive and imposing inscription on the north entrance gate states that the building was constructed by Ahmet Shah of Mengücek in 1228/29 (626 in Hegira). On the hospital’s gate is another inscription that reads 629 (1228/29 in Gregorian) and states that the hospital was built by Turan Melek. This complex, which contains the Great Mosque, hospital and tomb of Ahmet Shah and his wife were all constructed as a single rectangular mass, since the idea of constructing separate buildings for different functions, similar to that of the Ottoman Empire, had not yet developed. The mosque and the hospital were built adjacent to each other. The tomb occupies a part of the hospital. However, its high cupola is emphasized on the exterior as well,as its cone protrudes from the top of a high dome. The great dome covering the kiblah opening, the dome of the tomb, the light wells in the middle of the mosque and the hospital, and the big portals of the structure lend a picturesque and medieval silhouette to this building, which rises from a hillside overlooking the city of Divriği.

Despite the Western portal and the two ‘sah’s on the Western front which were wrecked in the great earthquake of 1509, the Great Mosque is one of the most well preserved mosques of the Seljuk period, with its spatial dimensions, the order of the altar axis, the magnificent design of its maksoorah (an area in a mosque which is screened off or partitioned off) dome, its three-dimensionalbotanical ornaments on the altar wall, which have been unmatched by any other building in Turkey, and its ornate vaults. The covered hospital has a similar authenticity to its design as well.

The Northern portal of the mosque and portals of the hospital have preserved their genuine designs and stone carvings in the Divriği Complex. The demolished Western portal was re-built in the 16th century or later on with a different style, and the Eastern window was built in the mid-13th century in the classical Seljuk style.


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