The Masterpieces Of Ahlat in Bitlis Turkey – Chapter 1,
Close to the northwest shores of Lake Van in Eastern Anatolia is the lovely sub-province of Ahlat. The city of Ahlat used to be a thriving, renowned city of a hundred thousand inhabitants, called Kubbet-al-Islam (Dome of Islam) during the Seljuk period. Ahlat was one of the first cities founded by the Seljuk Turks in Eastern Anatolia after the Malazgirt War of 1071. After the arrival of the Seljuks the small Anatolian provincial town of Ahlat grew and spread until it hugged the green shores of Lake Van. Many scholars and artists came to Ahlat and settled in the city. The master stone masons of Ahlat worked the stone as if it were clay, skilfully cutting and shaping it, making domes, arches, and doorways carved like lace. The craftsmen of Ahlat not only decorated the buildings of Ahlat, but became famous for their work in the cities of Konya, Kayseri, Sivas, Tokat as well. Ahlat created the works of art of an entire age. Among the architectural works which remain in Ahlat today are tombs and mescids. The tombs were arranged in rows and built in the shape of a Turkish tent. Each one was a monument in itself, the entire surface is covered with Seljuk motifs. It is the gravestones of Ahlat which are really worth seeing. Do not just dismiss them as mere gravestones, each one is a masterpiece. Turkey’s old graveyards are like open air museums, and that to the west of Ahlat called “Meydanlik” contains the finest and most interesting examples of the immortal art of Turkish stonemasonry. You can hardly call it a graveyard, it is more than that. The graves are built one over the other, consisting of domed and arched grave rooms and carved gravestones over two meters in height. This is why the people do not call it the “Graveyard” but the “Meydanlik” (Square). It is as if an art competition had been organized in the city, and every craftsman painstakingly created works to show off his greatest skills.
You can continue to find more details about The Masterpieces Of Ahlat in Bitlis Turkey in Chapter 2.