TRADE IN ITS TRADITION; HISTORY ON ITS STREETS: KAYSERİ

In the past, the first day of the rookies was difficult in Kayseri bazaar. Because the novice could suddenly be faced with a tricky order of his master: “Come on boy, go get the 25-pound minaret shade.” The master could ask for other things like ‘drum dust’, ‘distraction paper’, or ‘mind book’… He would at the same time steal a glance at the novice… If the boy goes for a run and searches for minaret shade in the market, the master knows that eventually he will need to find a new helper. But, if the boy uses his logic and opposes this order of his master in spite of all respect, the master knows that he could rely on his intelligence and tendency for trade; educate him, confide the shop’s responsibility, and even give him share some day.

Its fame comes from trade skills
Merchants of Kayseri, who have passed almost all of these tests during childhood, have become famous throughout Turkey. Expressions, jokes, and stories about trade are always attributed to them. They say, “A man from Kayseri steals a donkey, paints it, sells it back to its original owner again.” Although the people of Kayseri do not like being such an exaggerated subject of humor, they accepted their ‘cunning traits.’ Most of the time, they reveal these skills away. They say, “A man of Kayseri makes his wise son a merchant, and has the less intelligent one get education; where ever there is money in the world, there will be a man from Kayseri there; a man of Kayseri either buys and sells, or makes and sells.”

Successful city planning
Spacious boulevards, sparkling Sivas Avenue are clean and planted. Long streets, brand new high-rise apartments, shops that are open until late hours, restaurants, cafes, shopping centers… There is nothing old or worn until you arrive the heart and historical center of the city, the Cumhuriyet Square. It’s as if the city was built the night before. If we do not count the magnificent Erciyes, it is a flat, sheet-like city. Cycling as a means of transportation is pretty common. According to a person from Kayseri, the city has an understanding of a successful urbanism that can obtain an ‘ISO certificate’.

The first written documents of Anatolia
The reason behind the Kayserians’ unbelievable talent at trade is hidden in their genes. Remember who their ancestors are! 4000 years ago, Kanes Karum, currently known as Kültepe, was the most important trade center of Anatolia. It was an indispensable part of the trade organization established by Mesopotamian merchants. Under the supervision of the Kingdom of Kanes, it was a vigorous market place where the international exchange was made with iron rounds and papers. The first written documents of Anatolia here tell us about trade. Enveloped Assyrian tablet letters, bills, and seals show us that the written legal system in Anatolia was born in this city, which was burnt down to ashes at the end.

A city that was envied
The enrichment of a city that inherited such a trade tradition should not be so surprising. Kayseri is not such a romantic city. Its feet are on the ground; it knows what it wants. It is one of the rare cities that takes migrants in Anatolia. As if it is the capital of Central Anatolia, it feeds the surrounding cities.

Philanthropic society
At the end of a few days spent in Kayseri, one might almost believe that money will flow from Kayseri’s fountains. During a period, 139 factories were laid at once in the city. Guinness Book of Records was applied to evaluate this as a record but it was rejected because such a category did not exist. Kayseri knows solidarity and how to share its earnings. Over the last 20 years, the amount of charity made in Kayseri like schools, hospitals, faculties, vocational high schools is over 300 million dollars. It is not surprising to hear people speaking about hiring 30 more staff, purchasing a $ 200,000 machine, or opening a new workshop in one of the discussions at the so-called ‘building gathering’ or ‘vineyard neighbor gathering’.

As for the pastrami…
One man lost his pastrami and said, ‘I am not consumed that it fell but by the idea that it will fall into the hands that does not know how to slice’. Finely chopped pastrami is said to be the tastiest in Kayseri. This is a production that has been going on for centuries. Famous pastrami shops are located in the immediate vicinity of the gate of Kayseri Castle, which attracts attention with the walls of black volcanic stone; later the gate opened to Cumhuriyet Square. The heart of the city is the Cumhuriyet Square. The Hunat Hatun Mosque and Complex, located outside the walls, is one of the important social areas of the city. This is the first complex that the Seljuks established in Anatolia. The most interesting aspect of the Sahabiye Madrassa is the nice example of Seljuk stonework that can be seen on the front face and the cylindrical corner towers with a rectangular base. Mimar Sinan’s Kurşunlu Mosque belongs to 1585. The Ulu Mosque is the largest mosque built in the 12th century by the use of the stone columns of the old ruined buildings in the city after the third ruler of the Danishmendlians Melik Mehmet Gazi made Kayseri the center.

Science and arts center
The complex that belongs to the Seljuk period in the Mimar Sinan Park is the Gevher Nesibe Medical History Museum. In the 13th century, Kayseri was a city where caravan roads intersected. In addition, the city was an important center of science and art, with about 15 madrassas during the Seljuk period. Among them, the Çifte Madrassa, which was built as a medical school and a health center, is known as the first medical center in Anatolia. In the 13th century, Nesibe Sultan’s second brother Izeddin Keykavus built a school of medicine near the hospital. It is known that the medical education in Anatolia during the Seljuk period was carried out in a kind of master-apprentice relationship in the hospitals. Famous physicians had been taught here. In this madrassa, physicians, surgeons, eye specialists, medical assistants, mental hospital and mental disorder wards were available. Besides these, there was a pharmacy in the madrassa. The mental patients were treated here with music and therapy. Kayseri is a ‘City of Domes’. The most famous ones are the 12th – 14th century domes, particularly the Döner Kümbet (turning dome). They are historical works one must see, with their stone works, ornaments, and different forms.

All about the city
Three of the bazaars, the vessels of Kayseri’s vibrant commercial life, are in the city center: Vezir Hani Bedesten and Kazancılar Bazaar. Some of the city’s magnificent mansions, such as Atatürk House (Raşit Ağa Konağı) where Atatürk used to stay when he was in Kayseri, and Güpgüpoğlu Mansion (museum house and ethnographical museum), which is the oldest and best preserved house among them all are open for visitors. The Archaeological Museum that exhibits the Kültepe findings and a 13th century structure the Ahi Evran Hermitage, which is the only museum of artisans of Turkey, can be seen. You will find answers to your questions about the city in the Museum of Kayseri City and Mimar Sinan. Built as the first example in Kayseri, Turkey, the city archive of this museum that is considered as a state of the art that resembles a ‘space base’ is open to everyone. Video productions on 82” screens, touch screen kiosks, a model of Kayseri, which is five meters in diameter can be observed at the museum.

Skiing, trekking, bird watching
Mount Erciyes is a symbol of the city with its 3917-meter summit rising alone in the south of Kayseri Plain. The highest of Central Anatolia and the third largest of Turkey, the summits of this mountain dominates the Cappadocia region and the Central Taurus Mountains. The ashes that had risen from the Erciyes 30 million years ago had been moved by the wind for miles, and had formed the fairy chimneys around Ürgüp, Nevşehir together with Hasan Mountain. The Erciyes, which is covered with snow every season, is an important destination for mountaineers and skiers. The Aladağlar National Park, which is 160 km away from Kayseri, is suitable for mountaineering and trekking. 45 km ahead, there are Kapuzbasi Falls. Seven waterfalls falling over 30-70 meters are higher than many of the world’s most famous waterfalls, except Victoria Falls (100 meters) in Uganda and Niagara Falls in America. The Sultan Reeds, which is located on two main bird migration routes from Turkey and houses 300 bird species and 384 plant species, is among Turkey’s important wetlands and attracts bird watchers.

DO NOT MISS
Mimar Sinan’s village Ağırnas; Gesi Vineyards; Talas, identified with the vineyard houses that were once migrated in the summers; famous with its stone houses and magnificent churches, the village of Germir, where the mother of the famous American director Elia Kazan was born are among the treasures of Kayseri…