DENIZLI CEMETERIES AND SHRINES
Denizli, where one of the seven churches of the revelation-Ladociea- and other famous ancient Roman cities Colossea & Hierapolis are the main settlements, is located South-east part of the Aegean region about 150 miles far away from the sea at the crossroad of main trade routes and has been the center of many civilizations from the beginning of history t o now. The first settlements of the province is on Beyce sultan Tmulus on the way to Çivril dated 6000 BC. According to the written sources, the first inhabitants were the Arzawans, fore fathers of Hittites, between 1200-1700 BC and then the area became the Phrygian dominant in 800 BC. Xenophon tells us the most important settlements in the west of Phrygia was Colossea. After the collapse of the Phrygians , region fell into the hands of the Lydians under the commander of famous King Coressos. Alexander the great came in 334 BC and after his death, Selekos I ruled the area for twenty years then the province became the part of the Pergamene kingdom and in 129 BC the city, Hierapolis and Laodicea became two important Roman cities of Asia. After the Roman Empire was split into two in 5th C AD, the area was ruled by the Eastern Roman empire and the glory was ended up in 7th and 8th centuries as the less populated small town. During that time, Hazar-Judaism, Kıpçak and Salur Turkish tribes accepted Christian Orthodox faith and they began working as mercenary soldiers in Byzantine troops. Those orthodox Turkish mercenary solidiers were settled down in Hierapolis, Laodicea, Colossea and Trizapolis-ruined former Roman settlements-with their families. Arab armies began attacking here in 9th and 10th centuries . In 1040 Turkoman troops took over the city with an new name “ Tengizli” as Turkish. Denizli and its surroundings changed hands between the Turks and the Byzantines until the end of the 12th century and finally as Seljuk Sultan Kaykhusraw I took over the throne of Selçuk Empire in 1207, passed into the hands of the Turks again. The Sultan permitted to settle about 200.000 Turkomen tents of the Nomadic Turkoman families down in and around the city. 13th century AD, Turco-İslam tribes from Khorasan and Belh began emigrating to further into Anatolia in order to run away from Mongol cruelty and they were face to face with Orthodox Turkish tribes. Hadji Baktashi Vali settled down in Anatolia around Konya and his caliphs began working as missionaries among the Orthodox Turkish tribes who were the soldiers of Byzantine empire. Most of the orthodox Turks became Baktashi sect lovers by the influence of darwishes and changed their sides as soon as Ottoman empire was founded in early 14th century so Denizli became a completely a Turkish settlement with its villages and towns. At the end of the 15th century AD, Mehmet II was able to establish Turkish unification after the removal of Karamanlids State. Ottoman period was in 1360 first but Tamerlenk destroyed the Ottoman state in 1402 and as a result the town was given back to Germiyanoglu principality. In 1429 the whole Germiyan land with Tengzli passed into the hands of the Ottomans. The city had a chance to get developed in Ottoman period in 15th C AD due to the famous Turkish guilds founder called Ahi Evran came to Denizli and established a big guilds association here. Buldan has become the famous textile town for Ottoman Janissary troops as to make military uniforms and nice clothes & fabrics in looms and workbences have produced Buldan clothes for concibunes and queen mothers for centuries. Yatağan became the production of waepons for Ottoman empire.Tengizli divided into three major states under Ottoman rule till 1920 and it became a province as Denizli in 1923 when Turkey was proclaimed as a new country. As it is indicated in the historical outline above, Denizli have been a Turkish settlement since the end of 6th century AD because of the Orthodox and Jewish religions so a lot of their cemeteries and graveyards have been formed with traditional gravestones similar to Balbals all over Denizli province. They have tried to maintain traditional burial systems on their gravestones with thier tribes symbols on the stones as their seals and have passed down from generations to generations from 6th to 13 th centuries AD. As most of the Turkish Turcoman tribes accepted the Baktashi sect before Ottoman empire established, they kept up with their burial customs with their symbols with small changes. Balbals were converted into Şahides and the Kurgans were tranformed into domed shrines called “ Turbe or Yatır “. Hundred of domed shrines have been built for the caliphs of hadji Baktashi Vali in Denizli province with Baktashi sect lodges and Baktashi sect gravestones have been the main burial traditional items to point out the Baktashi graveyards and cemeteries. Most of the caliphs and sect masters have been given a title called “ dede-master of the sect “ while they were alive, called as Sultan when they died and domed shrines were built containing with small graveyards around. The Baktashi sect lovers have visited sultan’s shrines to remember & to respect them, sacrificed animals depending on their wealths and gathered in lodges to be tarined and sorted our problems. Thousands of graveyards and cemeteries with Baktashi srines and gravestones inside have been formed up to present time. Denizli , in short, is the most ancient Turkish settlement among the other cities in Anatolia with old Turkish cemeteries with unique gravestones. The major shrines, graveyards and cemeteries throughout Denizli province worth visiting are ; BEYCE SULTAN SHRINE-one of the caliphs of hadji Baktashi Vali-buried in a domed shrine next to the oldest tmulus of Denizli, HIRKA MOSQUE GRAVEYARD in Tavas town, ILBADI CEMETERY-the largest & oldest cemetery with unique shrines & gravestones in the center of Denizli city, KURBAĞALI KIPÇAK CEMETERY with unique balbal in which the signs are carved on, SARI ISMAIL SULTAN SHRINE-assistant of Hadjı Baktashi Vali- with unique Baktashi sect gravestones, OZDEMIRCI GOKTURK CEMETERY with ancient & tall balbal stones & Kurgans and TAVAS MOSQUE GRAVEYARD containing with Tavas Lords’s endengared tomstones with Fes headgears.