Kayseri , named in the antiquity Mazaka or Mazarca, Eusebia, Caesarea Cappadociae, and later Kaisariyah, is a large and industrialized city in Central Anatolia, Turkey. It is the seat of Kayseri Province. The city of Kayseri, as defined by the boundaries of Kayseri Metropolitan Municipality, is structurally composed of five metropolitan districts, the two core districts of Kocasinan and Melikgazi, and since 2004, also Hacılar, İncesu and Talas. In conjunction with the addition of new districts and first stage municipalities into the metropolitan area, the city's population, which was 690,000 in 2000, is currently 895,253.
Kayseri is marked by the Mount Erciyes which towers in the horizon south of the city. Its inhabitants (Kayserili) are renowned for their alertness, entrepreneurial spirit and a strict understanding regarding the management of economies, the last point having been the subject of more than a few legends in Turkey. The city itself is a blend of wealth, modernity and provincial conservatism and is often cited in the first ranks among Turkey's cities which fit the definition of Anatolian Tigers.
Renowned for its culinary specialties such as mantı, pastirma and sucuk, the city is also rich in historical monuments (dating especially from the Seljuk period). While it is generally visited en-route to the international tourist attractions of Cappadocia, Kayseri has many visitor's attractions by its own right; Seljuk monuments in and around the center, Mount Erciyes as trekking and alpinism center, Zamantı River as rafting center, the historic sites of Ağırnas (Sinan the Architect's village), Talas (home to the former Talas American College), Germir (Elia Kazan's village) and Develi to name a few. Kayseri is served by Erkilet International Airport and is home to Erciyes University.
Kayseri has been a continuous settlement since 3000 BC. The city has always been a vital trade center since it is located on major trade routes, particularly along what was called the Great Silk Road. One of the oldest cities founded in Anatolia, Kültepe, lies nearby.
As Mazaca, the city served as the residence of the kings of Cappadocia. In ancient times, it was on the crossroads of the trade routes from Sinope to the Euphrates and from the Persian Royal Road that extended from Sardis to Susa. In Roman times, a similar route from Ephesus to the East also crossed the city.
The city's name was changed to Eusebia in honor of the Cappadocian king Ariathes V (163–130 BC). The name was changed again to Caesarea by the last Cappadocian King Archelaus or perhaps by Tiberius.
Caesarea stood on a low spur on the north side of Mount Erciyes (Mons Argaeus in ancient times). The site, now called the old town, diplays only a few traces from the old town. It was destroyed by the Sassanid king Shapur I of Persia after his victory over the Emperor Valerian I in AD 260. At the time it was recorded to have around 400,000 inhabitants. In the 4th century, bishop Basil established an ecclesiastical centre on the plain, about one mile to the northeast, which gradually supplanted the old town. A portion of Basil's new city was surrounded with strong walls and turned into a fortress by Justinian.
Caesarea became Kaisariyah with the arrival of the Arabs, and later Kayseri when the city was captured by the Seljuk sultan Alp Arslan in 1064. It became one of the most prominent center of the Anatolian Seljuk Sultanate, until it fell to the Mongols in 1243. Within the walls lies the greater part of Kayseri rebuilt between the 13th and 16th centuries. The city became Ottoman in the 15th century.
Thus, there were three golden-age periods for Kayseri. The first, dating back to 2000BC, was when the city was a trade post between the Assyrians and the Hittites. The second golden age came during the Roman rule (200 - 300 AD). The third golden age was during the reign of Seljuks, when the city was the second capital of the state.
The 1500-year-old castle, built initially by the Romans, is still standing in good shape at the central square of the city. The short-lived Seljuk rule left large number of historical landmarks; historical buildings such as the Hunad Hatun complex, Kilij Arslan Mosque, The Grand Mosque and Gevher Nesibe asylum. The Grand Bazaar dates from the latter part of the 1800s, but the adjacent Caravanserai (where merchant traders gathered before forming a caravan) dates from around 1500. An Armenian church from the 19th century still operates as a church, another from the same period is used as a gymnasium. However, apart from these few, large, religious and secular constructions, most of Kayseri is modern. The town's older districts (which were filled with ornate mansion-houses mostly dating from the 18th and 19th centuries) were subjected to wholesale demolitions starting in the 1970s. The city is famous for its carpet sellers, and a range of carpets and rugs can be purchased reasonably ranging from new to 50 or more years old.
In the 4th century the city becomes central in early Christianity when St. Basil the Great establishes an ecclesiastical centre here. It is a Roman Catholic titular see and was the seat of an Armenian diocese.
The building that hosts Kayseri Lisesi was arranged to host the Turkish Grand National Assembly during the Turkish War of Independence when the Greek army had advanced very close to Ankara, the capital.
Kayseri received notable public investments in the 1920s and 1930s. Sumer Textile and Kayseri Tayyare Fabrikasi (airplane builder) were set up here during the early Republican Era with the help of German and particularly Russian experts. The latter manufactured first aircraft "made in Turkey" in the 1940s. After the 1950s, the city suffered from a decrease in the amount of public investment. It was, however, during the same years that Kayseri businessmen and merchants became transformed into countrywide capitalists. Families such as Sabancı, Has, Dedeman and Ozilhan who started out as small-scale merchants in the city of Kayseri became prominent actors in the Turkish economy. However, these families set up their headquarters in cities such as Istanbul and Adana, nevertheless often coming back to Kayseri to invest.
Thanks to the economic liberalization policies that introduced in the 1980s, a new wave of merchants and industrialists from Kayseri also joined their predecessors. Most of these new industrialists choose Kayseri as base of their operations. As a consequence of better infrastructures, the city achieved a remarkable industrial growth since 2000 and is one of the key cities that characterizes the class of Anatolian Tigers, with a favorable environment present especially for small and medium enterprises.
Detail from Gevher Nesibe Medical Center built 1210The city is served by Erkilet International Airport and the International Air Transport Association symbol for the airport is ASR. The airport is at a short distance from Kayseri center. There are several flights per day to Istanbul, Turkey's premium air transportation hub. Since the air transportation industry in Turkey is presently registering a fast growth rate, new flights from Kayseri to several other localities in Turkey and outside Turkey are soon to be expected.
Kayseri is connected to the rest of country with railroad service. There are four trains per day to Ankara. To the east there are two branches: one to Kars and Doğukapi toward Armenia, and another to Tatvan on the west shore of Lake Van.
Since the city is located in central Turkey, transportation via cars and buses are highly efficient. It takes approximately 3 hours to reach Ankara, approximately 3 hours to Mediterranean shores and 45 minutes to Cappadocia. The symbol of the city, Mount Erciyes, which is a notable ski center in winters and a trekker's paradise in summers, is at only 30 minutes' drive from the city centre.
The transportation within the city relies mainly on buses, dolmuş, and personal vehicles. A light rail transit system called Kayseray is under construction and is expected to open in one year.