Seljuk Sultan Izz al-Din Kaykavus (Izzeddin Keykavus) founded this hospital in Sivas in 1217-1218/614 AH. At
forty-eight by sixty-eight meters, it is the largest extant Seljuk hospital.
Kaykavus also included a tomb chamber for himself, where he was buried after
his death in 1220/618 AH. According to the original Arabic deed, the hospital
was a center of internal medicine, surgery, and mental health. It was built
with a small medical school which is no longer extant.
The hospital is situated within what was once the town’s lower
citadel: a walled area roughly rectangular in shape that encompassed a mosque, madrasas
and other government buildings. It faces the Çifte Minareli Medrese, whose
portal opens directly opposite that of the hospital to the west.
The hospital is built of stone with a rectangular plan centered on
a courtyard. One enters through a monumental portal on its west side which
projects from the facade and includes a muqarnas hood. The portal's façade is
decorated with interlocking geometric carvings and two badly damaged lion
figures above the hood. An inscription, written in Sülüs script above the
entryway, gives the name of the donor and the date of completion.
The portal opens into a high narrow entrance hall flanked by two
rooms on each side. At the end of this passageway, a muqarnas-vaulted portal surmounted by an ornate window gives onto a deep portico on the west side of the
The courtyard is rectangular in plan with a large sunken pool
at is center. A vaulted arcade with large brick piers paneled in stone surrounds
it on its north, south, and west sides. On the east side is a façade with a large
central iwan whose archway dominates the other arched entrances to the
courtyard. This iwan is groin vaulted, and decorated with a band of geometric
carving on its grand arch, above which are stone heads representing the sun and
Behind the arcades on the north and south sides are chambers
equipped with fireplaces on either side of larger central chambers. On the
north side, a central iwan would have opened onto what was once the
medical school. On the south side, the place of the central iwan is occupied by the vaulted tomb chamber of Kaykavus
Sultan Kaykavus’ tomb is one of the few tombs of
a Seljuk sultan that has survived. It is a square chamber topped by a decagonal
base supporting a ten-sided conical vault. The ten-sided form is reserved for
the sultans; it is seen elsewhere only in the Tomb of Kiliç Arslan in Konya.
Its decagonal base, which rises above the hospital walls, is decorated with
geometric Kufic inscriptions in glazed blue tiles that are inscribed in brick
niches. The vault is a wooden replica of the original. The rich red brick and
glazed tile decoration of the tomb façade and interior stands out against the
stone decoration of the hospital, and is the first of its kind in Anatolia. Two
tile inscriptions on the tomb façade give the name of Ahmad of Marand, a
craftsman from Azerbaijan, who brought with him the influence of the Great
Seljuks of Iran. A tile inscription plaque above the tomb entrance gives its
date of completion as 617 A.H. (1219/1220).
The hospital was later used as a madrasa, hence
it is also known as the Sifaiye Madrasa (Medical Madrasa). It was renovated in
the early 2000s to host the Sivas Seljuk Research Center and the Museum of
Aslanapa, Oktay. Turkish art and architecture, 130-137. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1971.
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Cantay, Gönül. Anadolu Selcuklu ve Osmanli Darüssifalari, 45-50. Ankara: Atatürk Kültür Merkezi Yayini, 1992.