Over the years I’ve watched Erzurum lose its edgy soul in the name of urban renewal/clean up/gentrification. The process seems fairly complete at this point. This area to the south of the fortress (kale):
was full of twisty streets and old houses when I first visited over ten years ago.
Çifte Minareli Medrese, Erzurum’s most famous landmark, no longer has scaffolding, and it’s been turned into a decent museum.
The museum’s highlight is this carved wooden column from the Ottoman period.
I’ve always enjoyed Erzurum’s many kümbet. It was only this time after seeing the Armenian churches in Kars and the Georgian churches in Artvin just before coming to Erzurum that I realized how similar these conical tops are.
Holy Apostles Armenian Church in Kars:
Dolishane Georgian Church in Hamamlı (Artvin):
Kvetera Georgian Church in Kakheti (10th century, way before the Ottomans):
Makes you wonder — did the Ottomans copy the Georgians and/or Armenians? And Armenian stonemasons did the work?
I also always enjoy Erzurum’s 14th century Selçuk (?) Yakutiye Medresesi.
Sitting all by itself now that everything nearby has been torn down is Hakem abi’s childhood home.
He is trying to preserve the house as a museum, an example of a house style that rarely still exists in Erzurum.
The highlight is this ceiling:
On the traditional theme Ferda found Hünerli Eller, a restaurant serving traditional dishes. We tried gıliko, a pasta-like bulgur, wheat, and egg dish. I liked it.
Oops, I was trying to not write much about Erzurum. Sorry about that. Let’s go to Sivas, a 6.5 hour bus ride west from Erzurum.
If you want Selçuk treasures, well, Sivas is the place to be. Buruciye Medresesi, Çifte Minareli Medrese, Şifaiye Medresesi, Gök Medrese are all here and worth seeing. Some people would say that Gök Medrese is way over-restored.
But, dang, that’s an impressive door.
There’s a bit to see inside as well.
The medrese is now used as a museum. The highlight is this 16th tiled globe from İznik, commissioned for the Ulu Camii in Divriği.
The portal to the Buruciye Medresesi is also impressive. There was, apparently, a fair bit of restoration work in the 1960s.
Çifte Minareli Medrese is also Selçuk. The only thing remaining is the façade, seen from the inside:
and the outside:
Just across the narrow street is the Şifaiye Medresesi, also Selçuk. It’s now used as a shopping center. Someone told me to visit the tomb inside, but it was locked up.
Instead we bought a carpet from this shop:
Sadly I cannot talk about Sivas without talking about massacres for this is where 37 Alevis were massacred in 1993 (only 30 years ago!). On our first evening in the city Ferda and I tried to visit the old Madımak Otel, where the massacre took place.
However, there’s no plaque outside — nothing. The following day we went inside and saw the small memorial. Sadly there is no information about what happened that day.
Ferda found us some interesting food in Sivas including pöç tandır which I had never heard of before and rather liked.
On our last day in the city before getting an overnight bus to Antalya, Ferda took me to a Çerkes (Circassian) restaurant where I tried gılnış for the first time.
We enjoyed talking with the Circassian couple who run the restaurant and the three Circassians who were eating at the table next to us. But why are there so many Circassians here? Well, they fled to Turkey to escape the 19th century Circassian massacre/genocide by the Russians.