Travel

Ahlat Tombstones, Bitlis

Ahlat, which is the district of Bitlis; It is located on the shore of Lake Van. The tombstones in Ahlat, which has been home to the Seljuk state for many years, reflect the Seljuk period stonemasonry and belief in the best way, and their appearance resembles the Orkhon Inscriptions. Seljuk tombstones belonging to the Seljuk period are located in the Ahlat district of Bitlis. Seljuk tombstones found in various places are located in the center and neighborhoods of Ahlat district. Therefore, there is no contact problem. You can easily reach the Ahlat cars departing from the center of Bitlis or you can go with your private vehicle and excursion groups.

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Ahlat Seljuk Cemetery

The tombstones in the Ahlat Seljuk Cemetery, which is the most beautiful example of Turkish-Islamic architecture, are around a thousand. In addition, there are 118 tombs belonging to important personalities. It is possible to reach many architectural and historical facts from the Seljuk period in this cemetery, which resembles a historical open-air exhibition. These historical tombs, which are different from ordinary tombstones, offer a great beauty with their majestic appearance, stonework and different structures. There are various geometric and floral motifs on the tombstones. Various motifs specific to mihrabs and Seljuk architectural structures are quite common in these tombs. Undoubtedly, tombs reflect the belief and way of life of a nation in the best way. E.g; According to the old Turkish belief, the dead were buried with their valuables because it was believed that they would be resurrected.

Hundreds of years later, there were tombs bearing this information. In many civilizations, tombs with various features were made to show the value given to people when they died. From these tombstones, it is possible to learn whether the deceased is a man or a woman, rich or poor, his social position, view of religion and religious level. The motifs used in the Ottoman and Seljuk State have different meanings. The rose motif that broke off from its branch on an Ottoman tombstone caught my attention. Later, as a result of my research, I learned that as a single woman, she represented the deceased woman. I was very impressed by the fact that the woman who died as a single woman was compared to a rose plucked from its branch and that this situation was explained so delicately in her grave. Ahlat Seljuk tombstones were also made with this feature. While visiting the Ahlat Seljuk Tomb, you will see sometimes short and sometimes very high tombstones.

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The reason for this is that the dimensions of the tombstones were made according to the social position of the deceased. While the tombstones of people who are known in the society are higher, the tombstone of someone with a lower social position is shorter. The inscriptions on the Seljuk Tombstones not only create a visual beauty with their stonework, but also shed light on history with the information they contain. On these inscriptions are verses from the Qur’an about death and the hereafter, hadiths, prayers and wise words. Apart from these verses, hadiths, prayers and wise words, the identity, title, level in religious sciences and personal characteristics of the deceased were written in Persian. There are also eulogies about the praised aspects of the deceased. In these inscriptions found on the tombstones, the name and signature of the person who wrote the epitaph and the calligrapher who drew the motifs are also found. Ahlat district, which has a deep-rooted history and hosted many civilizations, has gained fame with this Seljuk Cemetery, which has historical and architectural features. If you happen to be in Bitlis, I suggest you visit the tombstones in Ahlat that will take you on a journey through time and remind you of the mortality of the world.

Gül Demirci

Hello, I am Gul, I write content for Expat Guide Turkey every day. Don't forget to check it out!

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