Divriği Ulucami and Şifahane (Divriği Great Mosque and Hospital)

GATES OF PARADISE   Divriği Ulucami and Şifahane (Divriği Great Mosque and Hospital)

The western section of the mosque was rebuilt after its complete destruction in the great earthquake which occurred at the beginning of the 16th century. The plan consists of five naves running perpendicular to the qibla wall. The central nave is wider than the others. The naves are divided into five sections and are covered by a variety of vaults and domes supported by 16 columns. There is a mihrab dome, as in several other mosques of the period. The second vaulted opening following the opening in front of the mihrab is in the form of an eyvan. This is followed by a lantern and muqarnas dome and by an opening just before the entrance with a strongly ribbed vault. The openings in the central and side naves are adorned with vaults with various types of decoration. A very lively interior is thus created.

The Ulucami is one of the best preserved and, in its design and realisation, one of the finest buildings of the Turkish middle ages. The interior, with its 25 openings with five naves running towards the qibla and five naves running perpendicular to this is the finest example of the Anatolian interpretation of the multi-columned Arab mosque typology. The lengthwise arrangement of the Arab tradition is replaced by naves running directly towards the mihrab, a feature characteristic of Anatolian mosques of the Seljuk period. The central nave running from the entrance of the mosque to the mihrab is wider than the side naves and is also marked by a small concentration of light in the exact centre of an ornamentally ribbed maqsura and prayer space in front of the mihrab. The second opening after the entrance on the central axis is roofed by a large cross-ribbed vault. The entrance perspective culminates in a mihrab niche displaying a striking command of both creative and stone carving skills. All the openings in the mosque are roofed with very interesting ornamental vaults. The western nave and the nave beside it lost their original coverings owing to the complete destruction of the former and the partial destruction of the latter in the 16th century earthquake. The West Portal, which collapsed at the same time, was later rebuilt with a different style of ornamentation.

The Şifahane adjoining the mosque is the architecturally best planned, best designed, best constructed and best preserved example of a medieval Turkish hospital. These medieval hospitals were planned in accordance with the traditional medrese plan. Some are roofed, other are open with central courtyards. These hospitals were run on quite different lines from modern hospitals. The staff generally consisted of a head physician assisted by several students and one or two members of the staff responsible for the preparation of herbal potions. They worked like polyclinics; the patients who arrived were examined, a limited number of operations were performed and medicines were prepared. The students were given accommodation in the building. The mezzanine floor over the southern branch of the Divriği Şifahane was probably used as a dormitory for the students. The building served as both medical medrese and hospital. The hospital building had an illumination lantern like that to be found in the roofed medreses planned in accordance with the widespread medrese plan with two small eyvans and one main eyvan. The Şifahane has a roofing system consisting of ornamented vaults similar to the roofing system employed in the mosque.
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Şifahane, interior. The small door to the left of the main eyvan opens into the tomb.The column, column capitals and vaults are adorned with two-dimensional, geometric decoration.
Şifahane, interior. Diagonal cross vault over the main eyvan.
Şifahane, interior.
Şifahane,diagonal cross-vault over the main eyvan. The fronton of the vault contains the inscription “Amel-i Hürremşah Hilatı” ( Work of Hürremşah from Khelat “Ahlat” )
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