Ahlat Seljuk Cemetery (Selçuklu Meydan Mezarlığı)

Ahlat Seljuk Cemetery (Selçuklu Meydan Mezarlığı)

Ahlat, situated at the entrance gate to Anatolia and serving as a junction point for the synthesis of east and west, has been an important center for commerce and cultural exchanges for centuries, owing to its significant geographical and historical features.

Throughout its history, Ahlat has been renowned as one of the three major centers of science, culture, and art in the Islamic world, alongside Belh in Afghanistan and Bukhara in Uzbekistan.

The roots of Ahlat's history can be traced back to the Neolithic ages, around 4000 BC, when the city was first inhabited by the Hurrians. Over the centuries, it came under the rule of various powers until it was ultimately taken over by the Ottomans.

Ahlat Seljuk Cemetery (Selçuklu Meydan Mezarlığı)

Following the establishment of Turkish rule in 1071, Ahlat became a crucial passage that facilitated the transition from the East to the West. In the 12th century, it served as the capital of the Seljuk branch known as Ahlatshahs.

Ahlat, an ancient city with strategic and historical importance, has been the center of various civilizations throughout history. It has been known as "Khlat" in the Byzantine period, "Khelath" in the Syriac period, and "Rope" during the Arab period. However, its original name "Ahlat" has prevailed over time.

Aside from its natural beauty, Ahlat is also a treasure trove of historical landmarks, including cupolas, bezirhanes, mausoleums, fountains, and cemeteries. One of the most renowned sites in Ahlat is the Seljuk Cemetery.

The Seljuk Square Cemetery Ruins are considered the most significant historical cemetery in Ahlat, featuring tombstones and artwork by renowned artists. Covering an area of 210,000 square meters, the Meydan Cemetery is the third-largest Turkish-Islamic cemetery in the world.

Meydan Cemetery in Ahlat is home to three types of graves: Şahideli cist, Sandukali, and Akıt, each designated for a specific group of people such as scientists, artists, religious figures, or craftsmen. The "Kadis Section" of the cemetery is the most significant part, where Kadis have the authority to settle legal disputes and enforce Islamic laws.

Tombstones in Meydan Cemetery bear identity information of the deceased on their east side. Some tombstones also display the deceased person's profession and place of origin. In addition to the double-headed dragon motifs that reflect Central Asian Turkish culture, the tombstones are adorned with muqarnas decorations and geometric patterns on their west side. Inscriptions on the east side credit the maker of the tombstone and include verses from the Holy Quran. Decorative elements such as palmettes, oil lamps, and textured triangles are also found on the tombstones, creating intricate and detailed patterns.