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The city of Kayseri has a very ancient history and it can be very useful for understanding the fate of an almost legendary region: Cappadocia
The words of Ibn Battuta
“After three days we left for Kayseri, another very important city under the jurisdiction of the king of Iraq, headquarters [detached] [distaccata] of the Iraqi army and residence of a khatun of the Emir ‘Ala al-Din Artana.”Ibn Battuta
From Kültepe to Kaisareia
The city of Kayseri is located just 20 km from Kültepe, formerly known as Kaneš, one of the oldest settlements in the world, so much so that it was already active from around 2500 BC. . Like much of present-day Cappadocia, it became one of the most interesting places for the Silk Road since its inception, so much so that the Assyrians built their most important karum (or “trading post”) here. Precisely because of this centrality and the wealth achieved, the locals first rebelled against the Akkadian sovereigns and then, once a sort of “independence” was obtained, the city was destroyed and plundered by the kingdom of Zalpuwa, too frightened by its greatness which, however, did not it will stop here. In fact, in the nearby city of Kussara, the foundations were being prepared for what would become the Hittite Empire and among the first decisive events there was the capture of Kaneš by king Pithana; with the ascent to the throne of his son, Anitta, who transformed it into his capital and remedied the offense originating from the kingdom of Zalpuwa. It should be emphasized that the “Proclamation of Anitta” turns out to be the oldest text in the Hittite language and also the first known example of the Indo-European language. After his death there was a period of particular turbulence and tension that will lead, with King Labarna I, to the official and definitive birth of the Hittite Empire, destined to be for centuries one of the powers of Anatolia; his successor will move the capital to Hattusa. Due to this change it will gradually lose its importance, so much so as to be destroyed with the Hittite collapse and then re-founded, probably by Armenians but there is no certainty about this, with the name of Mazaca, then passing to the Persians.
Following the campaigns of Alexander the Great, the settlement will become one of the main centers of Cappadocia, a semi-autonomous kingdom that ruled these lands until the arrival of the Romans. The current name, “Kayseri”, is linked precisely to this historical period as Archelaus of Cappadocia, the last autonomous ruler of these lands, decided to call it Kaisareia in honor of Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus, better known by us as ” Octavian Augustus “, to ingratiate himself with the new lords, who arrived here definitively in 17 AD .
Romans, Arabs and Turks
In 260 it will be destroyed by Sassanids of Shapur I, but when it was rebuilt it became one of the cradles of Christianity, becoming the home of the Cappadocian Fathers, a renowned group of Hellenistic Christian philosophers among whom it is impossible not to mention St. Basil, patron saint of Russia and Gregory of Nyssa, considered one of the Fathers of the Church.
With the Arab expansion, this area became for a long time a point of clash between the two powers, thus losing much of its charm and riches, until it almost disappeared; the Danishmendids will begin the reconstruction, then completed by the Seljuks of Rum, who will transform it into one of their most important and beautiful cities. Kayseri will then pass to the Mongols, the Eretnids and finally, starting from 1515, to the Ottomans, under whom, however, he did not particularly shine, and, with the collapse of the latter, to Turkey.
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