FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Kayseri – a city under restoration

Posted in Kayseri, Turkey by folkestonejack on September 5, 2015

I had high hopes for my visit to Kayseri with many interesting historic buildings packed into the city centre, but after wandering the sights I soon discovered that the overriding theme was restoration!

The sight that stood out from my hotel window was the citadel (Kayseri İç Kalesi) which is a 13th century fortress undergoing extensive restoration works to turn it into an open air museum. The work has been underway for some time, but a local told me that completion is still three years away. The vision of the architects certainly offers some hope that the end result will be rather special. Right now, it’s completely closed.

The citadel... under restoration

The citadel… under restoration

Other sights that turned out to be closed for renovation included the Gürgüpoğlu House (an Ottoman mansion that is usually home to the ethnographic museum), the Ataturk Museum (surrounded by barriers and scaffolding during my stay), the Meryem Ana Kilisesi (an Armenian church that had been converted into a sports centre, now in the process of being converted back into a church) and a few of the historic mosques in the city (such as the Kalaycioğlu Camii). All of this was very encouraging for the future, if a little frustrating for a visitor today.

I also sought out the Kayseri Surp Krikor Lusavoriç, an Armenian church a little way out from the centre, which looked like it could do with some locing restoration if the exterior was anything to go by. Sadly, the place was locked up and no-one seemed to be around to let visitors in.

In the course of my wanders I also stumbled across a rather lovely district full of older buildings undergoing restoration (including the property below) but as they didn’t appear in any of the print or online tourist guides I read before I visited I was at a loss to work out what I was looking at! Subsequently I learnt that this was the ‘Kayseri Town Project’ (Kayseri Mahallesi Projesi) which has restored/is restoring a complex of 200-250 year old town houses as boutique hotels and stores, along with a historic mansion and baths.

A familiar story of restoration...

A familiar story of restoration…

In many cases it was enough to admire the exterior, such as the many tombs in the city centre – of which the Döner Kümbet (revolving tomb) was the highlight. Sights that were open included the rather dull old-fashioned archaeological museum, the Museum of Seljuk Civilisation (in the Çifte Medresse), the Ulu Cami and the Hunad Hatun Külliyesi.

By mid-afternoon the temperatures had reached 41 degrees and I sought the shade of a nearby park, stumbling across the Seyid Burhanettin Cemetery and Tomb in the process. Throughout my visit I was struck by how little tourist information was available for Kayseri in any shape or form and if they are to tempt any visitors to stop here before heading on to Cappadoccia that is one thing they will have to remedy! Even the littel I discovered before my trip was hard work…

Kayseri shortly before sunset

Kayseri shortly before sunset

In the evening I took a little stroll and admired some of the monuments and mosques in the centre of the city before retiring for the night, ready for the start of the tour proper tomorrow.