Location of Sivas within Turkey.
|- Mayor||Doğan Ürgüp|
|Elevation||1,285 m (4,216 ft)|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
|- Summer (DST)||EEST (UTC+3)|
|Area code(s)||(+90) 346|
Sivas (Greek: Σεβάστεια, Armenian: Սեբաստիա, Persian: Sebhasd) the late-Classical and Medieval Sebastia, sometimes spelt Sebastea or Sebasteia) is the provincial capital of Sivas Province in Turkey. According to the 2007 Turkish census, its population was 296,402.
The city, which lies at an elevation of 4,193 feet (1,278 m) in the broad valley of the Kızılırmak river, is a moderately-sized trade center and industrial city, although the economy has traditionally been based on agriculture. Rail repair shops and a thriving manufacturing industry of rugs, bricks, cement, and cotton and woolen textiles are form the mainstays of the city's economy. The surrounding region is a cereal-producing area with large deposits of iron ore which are worked at Divriği.
Sivas is also a communications hub for the north-south and east-west trade routes to Iraq and Iran, respectively. With the development of railways, the city gained new economic importance as junction of important rail lines linking the cities of Kayseri, Samsun, and Erzurum. The city is linked by air to Istanbul.
Excavations at a mound known as Topraktepe indicate Hittite settlement in the area, though little is known of Sivas' history prior to its emergence in the Roman period. In 64 B.C. as part of his reorganization of Asia Minor after the Third Mithridatic War, Pompey the Great founded a city on the site called "Megalopolis". Numismatic evidence suggests that Megalopolis changed its name in the last years of the 1st century B.C. to "Sebasteia" in honor of the emperor Augustus: Σεβάστεια is the feminine form of the usual Greek translation of Augustus. The name "Sivas" is the Turkish version deriving from the name Sebasteia.
Sebastea, which became the capital of the province of Armenia Minor under the emperor Diocletian, was a town of some importance in the early history of the Christian Church; it was the home of Saint Blaise and St. Peter of Sebaste, who were bishops of the town, and of Eustathius, one of the early founders of monasticism in Anatolia — all in the 4th century; the place of martyrdom of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, also 4th century; the birthplace (1676) of Mekhitar, the founder of Mekhitarist Order of the Armenian Catholic Church. Several Greek Orthodox and Armenian patriarchs were born in Sebaste, among them Atticus, the 5th‑century Patriarch of Constantinople, and Michael, the 16th‑century Patriarch of Echmiadzin.
The Southern Armenian king of Vaspurakan, Hovhannes Senekerim, exchanged his lands to the Byzantine emperor Basil II in 1021 A.D. and migrated to Sivas with 14.000 of his nobles and people and became a vassal of the Byzantines, until the city was conquered by the Turkmen Danishmend dynasty (1155–1192) after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071.
In 1174, the city was captured by Seljuk ruler Kilij Arslan II and periodically served as capital of the Seljuk empire along with Konya. Under Seljuk rule, Sivas was an important center of trade and site of a citadel, along with mosques and madrasahs (religious educational institutions), four of which survive today and one of which houses the Sivas Museum.
The city fell to the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I (1389–1402) in 1398, was lost to Timur (Tamerlane; 1336–1405) in 1400 who destroyed the city, and was recaptured by the Ottomans in 1408. Under the Ottomans, Sivas served as the administrative center of the province of Rum until about the late nineteenth century.
In 1913 a campaign boycotting Christian trade was initiated by vali Ahmed Muammer Bey. In April/May 1914 the bazaar of Sivas was set alight. 5 July 1915 the Armenian population of Sivas was deported. The Kemalist Sivas Congress (Heyet-i Temiliye) was held in this city 4–11 September 1919. With the arrival of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881–1938), the founder of the Turkish Republic, from Amasya, the Congress of Sivas is considered a turning point in the formation of the Turkish Republic. It was at this congress that Kemal's position as chair of the executive committee of the national resistance was confirmed (see Turkish War of Independence). Sivas was depicted on the reverse of the Turkish 500 lira banknote of 1927-1939.
During a football match between Kayseri Erciyesspor and Sivasspor played on 17 September 1967 at the Atatürk Stadium in Kayseri, a disaster occurred with forty dead and at least 300 injuries among the fans, which was the worst sporting-related event in Turkey. 38 of the victims killed and most of people injured were fans of Sivasspor, which subsequently led to week-long lasting riots in the city. Businesses and some houses of the people originating from Kayseri were plundered and set ablaze by the mob.
On 2 July 1993, 37 participants in an Alevi cultural and literary festival were killed when a mob of demonstrators set fire to the Madimak hotel in Sivas during a violent protest by some 15,000 members of various radical Islamist groups against the presence of Aziz Nesin, the Turkish translator of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. The deaths resulted in the Turkish government taking a harder stance against religious fanaticism, militant Islam, and antisecularism. In late 2006 there was a campaign by the Pir Sultan Abdal Cultural Institute to convert the former hotel into a museum to commemorate the tragedy, now known as the Sivas massacre.
A cultural hub as well as an industrial one, Sivas contains many examples of 13th-century Seljuk architecture. The Mavi Medrese from 1271, the Şifaiye Medresesi from 1218 and the Çifte Minare Medresesi from 1271, with its intricately carved facade and minarets, are among the most noteworthy monuments. The oldest surviving mosque is the Great Mosque, dating from the Turkmen era. Near Sivas lay the Armenian monastery of Surp Nishan ("Holy Cross"), founded by Atom-Ashot, the son of King Sennacherib. Until 1915 it was the residence of the archbishop of the diocese of Sebastia and preserved various relics including the royal throne of Sennacherib. It is now entirely destroyed.
The Ulu Camii (Mosque) completed in 1196, is famous for its simplicity and it is a showcase for the Seljuk Turks' architectural style. The city is also famous for its Medreses (Madrasa). Gök Medresesi (the Celestial Madrasa; depicted on the obverse of the Turkish 500 lira banknote of 1927-1939) and Mavi Medrese were built in 1271 by the Armenian architect Kaloyan. Sifaiye Medresesi, on the other hand, was completed earlier, on the eve of the second wave of Turkic immigration to Anatolia, in 1218 and the with its intricately carved facade and minarets are among the most noteworthy edifices carries on the traditional Seljuk Medrese plan.
The city also contains some fine examples of the Ottoman architectural style. Kurşunlu Hamamı (Bath) which was completed in 1576, is the largest bath in the city and it contains many details from the classical Ottoman bath building. Behrampaşa Hanı (Caravansaray), was completed in 1573 and it is famous for its lion motives around its windows.
Atatürk Kongre ve Etnografya Müzesi (Atatürk Congress and Ethnography Museum) is a museum dedicated to the Sivas Congress and ethnographic pieces special to the region.
Sivas is also famous for its thermal springs which have a respectable percentage in the city's income. People believe that the water of these thermal springs can cure many illnesses. The most famous thermal areas are, Sıcak Çermik, Soğuk Çermik and Kangal Balıklı Kaplıca.
As with most other parts of Anatolian highland, nights even in summer are a bit chilly in Sivas, so don't forget to pack along at least a cardigan with you.
There are daily flights from Istanbul to Sivas Airport (VAS). A number of other cities across Turkey are also served with less frequent flights.
See Turkish State Railways website for more details .
The telephone code of the city (and surrounding towns) is (+90) 346.
There are a number of spas in the countryside surrounding Sivas.
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