Sivas, an important commercial center stood, during the Middle Ages, at the junction of the caravan routes to Persia and Baghdad. Between 1142 and 1171 it was the capital of the Danismend Emirs and a vitally important urban center during Seljuk rule. The remaining architectural monuments reflect Sivas’s former prominent position. The Ulu Mosque dates from the Danismend Emirate but the Seljuk buildings: the 13th century Izzeddin Keykavus Sifahanesi a hospital and a medical school the beautifully decorated Gok Medrese, the twin minarets of the Cifte Minare Medrese as well as the Buruciye Medrese all testify to the exciting aesthetic of the Seljuk period.
165 kms southeast of Sivas is the ancient town of Divrigi, which was once a Byzantine site. By the 12th and 13th centuries, it was the capital of Turkish Mengucek Emirs, and the remains of Ulu Mosque of 1229 and a citadel remain from that period. The Baroque style portal of this magnificent mosque is a real masterpiece of stonework, and this monumental building has been declared by UNESCO to be one of the eminent cultural heritages of the world.
Besides its historical treasures, the city possesses several other specialties, one of which is Balikli Kaplica, an interesting spa of the town of Kangal. It is a thermal spring, filled with tiny fish living in the hot waters, which provides a different type of cure for skin complaints. It is the only cure center in the world for “Sedef Hastaligi” (psoriasis). Soguk Cermik is another spa center. Hafik, Todurge (Zara), and Gokpinar (Gurun) Lakes are the interesting places for picnicking, boating and fishing.
Another special characteristic of this town, 68 kms south of Sivas, are the world famous Kangal dogs. These sheep dogs have proven their loyalty, and success and are confidently used in the area of police work. Sivas is also known for its fine carpets of various designs and colors. These locally produced weavings offer a wide variety of choice, and the inherent high quality is not subject to variation. In the past, Sivas owed much of its importance as a communications center to the north south and west east trade routes to Iraq and Iran, respectively.
With the development of railways, the city gained new economic importance. It stands at the junction of several railways and highways and is linked by air with Istanbul via Ankara. The city’s manufactures include cement and cotton and woolen textiles. The surrounding region is drained by the Kizil, Kelkit, Calti, and Tohma rivers. It is an important cereal producing area and contains large deposits of iron ore, which are worked at Divrigi.