Anatolia, acting as a bridge between eastern and western civilizations, had paved the way to the birth of a magnificent society in this region, called Anatolian Civilizations. Thus, throughout history, Kayseri has always maintained its place as an important settlement area, which is very close to some of these civilizations, as well as to Cappadocia, located between Kızılırmak basin and the Salt Lake. Hundreds of “Mounds” and “Tumuli” discovered in this region have revealed significant findings about “Anatolian Civilizations”.
All the societies, having settled in the region from Hittites to Ottomans, had managed to form a political union within a short period and appeared on the scene of history as an important power.
The oldest settlement area known around Kayseri is the “Kültepe Mound”, which is located 20 km. away from the city center, on Sivas highway (2 km inside). Kaniş, which is inside this mound, had been the capital of Kayseri at those times, and maintained its importance starting from 2800 BC until the Hellenistic periods.
As Kaniş started to lose its importance, we see that Mazaka, which is located on the northern foot of Argaios (Erciyes), the sacred mountain of those times, had gained power and become the center of the city. There are controversies about where the name “Mazaka” comes from. Settlement in Mazaka is estimated to have started during XII-IX BC, and after a while, the city had become the capital of Tabal State. Following the collapse of this state, it was first acquired by Phrygians and then by Cimmerians (676 BC)
As the Cimmerians were forced to leave Anatolia by Assyrians and Lydians (650 BC), Mazaka had been occupied by Assyrians and then acted as a border between Lydia and Meds. After Persians defeated Lydians, Mazaka, as well as the entire Anatolia, had been acquired by this state. Under Persian sovereignty, many people from Iran had migrated to the region, who had settled “Atesgede Cult” in these regions that remind them of their home country. This “Cult” had been dominant in the region for hundreds of years. Even independent Cappadocia Kings could not act against this “cult” or “religious framework”.
Ariarathes Eusebias IV, one of the Cappadocian Kings, had stayed for some time in the city of “Ariarathia” founded by his father Ariarathes III and then moved its palace to Mazaka. His son Ariarathes V had named the city “Eusebia” in the name of his father (163 -130 BC).
Eusebia, having developed as a new Hellenistic city next to Mazaka, had been named as “Kaisaria” in the name of Roman Emperor “Caisar Avgustus” during the reign of Cappadocian King Archelaos (36 BC, 17 AC). We see the name Kaisaria on all the coins (money) issued between 12th-8th century BC.
ROMAN COLONIAL TIME
We see Cappadocia on the history scene as a city of Roman empire, starting from 17th century AC. Kaisaria, on the other hand, was being ruled by a state assembly called “Konion” and a governor.
During the reign of Emperor Gordianus III, the city walls had been built (238–244 AC), yet, despite the walls, Kaisaria was invaded by Persian King “Şapor” during the reign of Emperor Valerian. At those times, the population of the city was estimated to be around 400 thousand according to historical resources. Kaisaria, in which Emperor Julianus Apostota was imprisoned for 6 years, acted as an important center for the “Christianity Cult” of the period. Christian religion heads who have grown up in the city include Grand Busilius, Saint Gregorius, Gregorius from Nuziandos and Gregorius from Nysa.
FIRST MUSLIM RAIDS
Anatolia, which was located inside the territories of Eastern Rome (Byzantine), was an attractive region for “Muslim Armies” since the beginning of the first centuries after the “Migration”. Many incursions made for the conquest of Istanbul, had been made over Middle Anatolia, especially Kayseri and each time, the city was invaded and damaged by “Muslim Armies”.
Kayseri was also invaded by Iran Crown Husrev II (605 AC), during the reign of Emperor Phokas (602-610 AC). The city, having been under the invasion of Persians for 6 years, had been acquired back by Emperor Heraklios (610–640 AD).
TURKISH SOVEREIGNITY IN KAYSERİ
According to Eastern historians, Turkish tribes, having started to spread around Middle Anatolia, conquered Kayseri in 1067 under the commandership of Afşin Bey. Byzantine Empire, which had lost all its power after Malazgirt War in 1071, failed to protect the region and started to abandon the city, which was accompanied by a great migration of Turks into the region. By 1085, Kayseri had been completely acquired by Turks.
DANISHMEND SULTANATE PERIOD
Melik Ahmet (Taylu) of Danishmend, who was the son of Alpaslan and the nephew of Melikshah, founded “Danishmend Sultanate” in the region around Kızılırmak and Yeşilırmak, and went under the power of Süleyman Shah. During Danishmend period, crucial steps were taken in order to spread Turkish culture in the mentioned region. Anatolia became a “Home country for Turks”.
Danishmend-son Sabartia, who appointed Hasan Bey (Turasan) as the governor of Middle Anatolia, was ruling in Kayseri and Pontus. Hasan Bey, who was the first governor of Kayseri city, continued his duty starting from 1082 till his death and conquered many places.
Following Ahmet Gazi, Emir Melik Gazi (his tomb and mummy are in Pazarören/Pınarbaşı) ruled the Danishmend sultanate. Afterwards, Emir Mehmet, who developed the city with many works of art and Zünnûn, who built Ulu Mosque, governed the region.
SELJUK SULTANATE PERIOD
By 1169, Seljuk Sultan Kılıçarslan II had seized Kayseri and the region and included it in the Seljuk territory. As soon as Kılıçarslan II secured the unity of Anatolia, he divided the country among his sons. Kayseri was the share of his son Nurettin Shah. Afterwards, great battles started between the sons. First, Süleyman Shah and then Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev I acceded to Seljuk throne. We see that some artifacts had been built in the times of both Süleyman Shah and Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev I. For instance, “Tekgöz” bridge located on Kızılırmak near Kayseri had been built by Süleyman Shah.
Anatolia enjoyed its golden age during the period of sultans, Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev I, İzzeddin Keykavus I who wears “Çetr” (a garment used as a sign of sovereignity) and Alâeddin Keykubad I respectively. Especially during the period of Alâeddin Keykubad I, the public enjoyed peace and welfare. Through the network of highly developed caravanserais, Anatolia became the trade center of the whole Middle East. In this period, Kayseri acted as the second capital after Konya. Sultan Keykubad was living in Alaiye (Alanya) in winter, and at Keykubadiye Palace (which was situated on where sugar factory is located today) in Kayseri during summer. Yet, not very long after, he was killed by his son in Kayseri while he was getting prepared for a new battle, and his corpse was brought to Kümbethane in Konya.
Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev II, who acceded to the throne after Alâeddin Keykubad I, was highly indulged in enjoyment and pleasure, and was not seriously engaged in state affairs. In the end, as Seljuks were defeated by Mongol army in Kösedağ war (1243), hence the fate of Anatolian Seljuk state also upturned.
Mongolians, who acquired Kayseri, ruined the city for two times, beside the other many cities. Following the death of the last Seljuk Sultan Mesut, Anatolia Seljuk state was fragmented and many sultanates came onto the scene.
After the collapse of Anatolian Seljuk state, the Eretna State (1342 – 1381), which was among the remaining sultanates, made Kayseri its second center after Sivas and built many artifacts there. These include, Emir Şahap Tomb, Palace Madrasah, Haydarbey Palace, Sırçalı Cupola, Ali Cafer Cupola, and Şeyh Ümmi Lodge in Develi.
After the last Eretna ruler sultan Mehmet II, who was only a child, was killed by Kadı Burhaneddin (1381), this state also collapsed.
KADI BURHANEDDİN- AHMET STATE
After Kadı Burhaneddin, who was born in Kayseri in 1345 and whose father and grandfather was the “Kadı” of Kayseri, had defeated Eretna Sultan Mehmet II, he declared his sultanate by “minting coins on his name” and having a “khutba” delivered. (H. 783).
Kayseri was rebuilt during the period of Kadı Burhaneddin, who ruled the region around Kayseri and Sivas. Sheikh Müeyyed Fountain was the most important artifact that remained from the same period. As Kadı Burhaneddin, who was also a poet and an intellectual, was killed by Yölük Osman Bey due to political reasons, his ruling of 18 years came to an end.
Following Kadı Burhaneddin, Kayseri, which passed through between Dulkadiroğulları and Karamanoğulları sultanates, was delivered to Fatih Sultan Mehmet by Karamanoğlu Pir Ahmet (1464).
Kayseri, which was first affiliated to the Karaman state of Ottomans and then became an independent county (Liva) of Ankara Province, was made a province with the proclamation of the Republic according to 1924 constitution.
Voyager Evliya Çelebi, having visited Kayseri in 1649, provides detailed information about Kayseri as a prosperous city. Whereas Moltke, who visited Kayseri in the 19th century, defines the city as, “the most beautiful place in Anatolia, located on the foot of a magnificent mountain, which always has snow on its top”. Certain artifacts built in Kayseri during Ottoman period include; Fatih Mosque located inside the fortress, Kurşunlu Mosque, Vezir Inn, Cotton Inn, Kadı Turkish bath, Selahattin Turkish bath, etc.
Kayseri had been affected at a late stage by the “modernization movements” starting with the Tanzimat Charter of 1839, and this interaction gained pace with the proclamation of Turkish republic. During late Ottoman era, there was an “idadi - high school” (1893) and three “rüştiye – secondary school” (1903) in Kayseri. The first printing house in Kayseri was established by the Special Provincial Administration (1910), and here the first local newspaper called “Erciyes Newspaper” was published (1910). Armenians, on the other hand, started to publish a newspaper named Majak.
Again in the late Ottoman era, major part of the population in Kayseri was composed of Muslim society (Turks). The non-Muslim societies living in the city was mainly composed of Gregorian Armenians and Orthodox Greeks.
Kayseri, which became a county of Ankara Province following Tanzimat Charter, had become an independent county (Liva) in accordance with the Law no. 250 dated 7th April 1330 (20th April 1914) when Talat Pasha was the minister of interior affairs. The city, governed as an independent county for 10 years, became a “province” following the annulment of countries with year 1924 constitution.
Kayseri, having attained a provincial status with 1924 constitution, had five districts including Merkez, İncesu, Bünyan, Develi and Aziziye (Pınarbaşı), as well as 21 counties and 314 villages as of year 1928. Today, Kayseri has 16 districts including Akkışla, Bünyan, Develi, Felahiye, Hacılar, İncesu, Kocasinan, Melikgazi, Özvatan, Pınarbaşı, Sarıoğlan, Sarız, Talas, Tomarza, Yahyalı and Yeşilhisar.