Sivas is a city in Central Anatolia, with a population in 2020 of 335,570. By road it's 450 km east of Ankara, and stands at 1278 m elevation. It's industrial but has several 13th century Seljuk buildings, and is a transport hub.
In the first century BC, the Romans called this place Sebaste for their emperor. There are scant remnants of those times as a series of conquerors came, smashed the place and marched on. However in 1174 it fell to the Seljuks, the Turkic people who supplanted Byzantine Rome in this region, and their fine medreses remain. The Ottomans arose in the 13th century and captured Sivas, but in 1400 Tamerlane stormed all the way from Kabul, occupied much of present day Turkey, and almost crushed the Ottoman dynasty. They regained the town in 1408 and held it until the modern republican era. It was here at the congress of 1919 that Atatürk cemented his position of leadership and launched the War of Independence.
Sivas stands on a high-altitude plain with hot, dry summers and bitterly cold, snowy winters. Summer nights can still be chilly, especially if the breeze picks up, so bring along at least some cold-weather clothing regardless of season. This climate suits hardy varieties of wheat, so the main industry is based on agriculture, such as manufacture of cereals.
Get in Edit
By plane Edit
1 Sivas Nuri Demirag Airport (VAS IATA). There are two flights a day from Istanbul IST and from SAW, taking 90 min. All other connections involve changing in Istanbul. The airport is big enough for its limited flights and has car hire.
By train Edit
High speed YHT trains run three times daily from Ankara to Sivas at 08:00, 13:00, and 18:10, with the same return times. They take 2 hr 30 min via Kırıkkale and Yozgat; an adult single in 2023 is 240 TL economy, 360 TL business class.
Conventional trains from Ankara run daily and take 11 hours via Kayseri (bypassed by the YHT). These have couchettes and a sleeping car, some carry a buffet but don't rely on it, bring your own rations.
- Vangölü Express continues eastwards to Elazığ and Tatvan, which has buses and an occasional ferry to Van, for trains to Tabriz and Tehran in Iran.
- Guney Kurtalan Express runs via Malatya to Diyarbakır and Kurtalan.
- Dogu Express runs via Divriği, Erzincan and Erzurum to Kars. There's also a twice daily regional train between Erzincan, Divriği and Sivas.
It's expected that these services will change radically once the YHT service is bedded in, as the Ankara trains could instead terminate in Sivas.
- Hattı train runs daily from Samsun on the Black Sea coast, taking eight hours via Havza and Amasya. It departs both ways around 08:30.
2 Sivas railway station is two km southwest of town centre. This is the historic station, completed in 1934 and modernized in the early 2020s. It will continue to serve both conventional and high-speed train for the foreseeable future, as there are no firm plans to extend the YHT line further east.
By bus Edit
Direct buses run from Istanbul five or six times a day, taking 12 hours for a fare in 2022 of 600 TL, otherwise change in Ankara. Buses from Ankara run every two hours and take 7 hours, for a fare of 350 TL. They may continue east to Erzincan (3½ hours) and Erzurum (6 hours), or southeast to Elazığ, Tatvan and Van, or south to Gaziantep and Adana. The main operator on these routes is Flixbus; another is Metroturizm.
3 Sivas Intercity bus station (Sivas Şehirlerarası Otobüs Terminali) (2 km south of town centre just off Highway D200.). Modern, clean and spacious.
Get around Edit
Town bus routes are:
- 1-A, 1-B, 1-D, 2-A and 2-B passes Sivas Train Station.
- Except 6-A, 6-B, 6-C, 11-B and 11-C, all bus lines go to the Coach Station.
- 6-B, 6-C and 11-B passes Sivas Police Headquarter.
- 6-C and 11-B passes the "Eğriköprü" which is a historical bridge.
- 2-A and 2-B passes the "Kesikköprü" which is a historical bridge.
- 5-A and 5-B passes the Tomb of Abdulvahhabi Gazi.
- 11-B and 11-C go to the Cumhuriyet University.
Taxi fares in 2022 average 6 TL flagfall then 11 TL per km. So to city centre reckon 30 TL from the railway station, 40 TL from the bus station and 250 TL from the airport.
Sivas is famous for its three madrasas - Islamic schools - built by rival patrons in the late 13th century and vying with each other for splendour.
- 1 Buruciye Medrese (100 m south of Meydan). This patron was Muzaffer Burucerdi, and the school (completed in 1271) studied physics, chemistry and astronomy. The architect is unknown but it's in a square Seljuk style, with a courtyard surrounded by cells. These are windowless, so you'd sleep in them rather than study. It fell derelict in the 20th century but has been restored. Free entrance.
- 2 Çifte Minareli Medrese, Çifteminare Sk 1. 24 hours. The second of the trio, this was built in 1272 by the Vizier of Ilkhanate, Şemseddin Mehmet Cüveyni. Only the monumental gatehouse and twin minarets survive of the original - Çifte means twin. Free.
- 3 Gök Medrese, Gökmedrese Cd. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. The third of the trio, this was built in 1271 by Vizier Sahip Ata Fahrettin Ali. The name means "celestial" or blue, for its tilework. It has an imposing gatehouse with twin minarets leading to a courtyard and cells, nowadays shops. The building originally had a second story, long gone. Free.
- Şifaiye Medrese (200 m south of Meydan). 09:00-00:00. An older madrassa, completed in 1217 in Seljuk style - so it set the standard that the later trio were aiming to surpass. It contained a hospital and medical school. Within is the tomb of its founder, Sultan Izeddin Keykavus I, and the medrassah tilework has been restored. Free.
- Kale Mosque (West side of Buruciye medressah). Built in 1580. It's a simple elegant building with a blessed stone for prayers for the recovery of lost items. Still it's wise to continue to take care of your bank cards, passports and youth.
- 4 Sivas Grand Mosque (Sivas Ulu Camii). Built in 1197, with the minaret added in 1213.
- 5 Cumhuriyet Square. Main square, dead centre of town.
- Sivas Castle (Sivas Kalesi). is somewhere beneath the shrubs of the hilltop park south of town centre.
- 6 Sivas Atatürk ve Kongre Müzesi, Kongre Cd. Tu-Su 08:00-17:00. This former high school was where Atatürk consolidated his power base in 1919 and launched the struggle for independence. It now hosts three museum collections: congress with mementoes of that era, ethnography, and archeaology.
- Behram Paşa Han the ancient caravanserai and market is now a hotel, see Sleep.
- 7 Hamidiye Kültür Parkı 10 km west of town is a children's amusement park. Within it is an exhibition of war horses, admission 10 TL.
- 8 Archaeological Museum (https://www.kulturportali.gov.tr/turkiye/sivas/gezilecekyer/arkeoloj-muzes327586), Rahmi Günay Cd, ☏ . Tu-Su 8AM-5PM. Small museum in a former School of Industry built in 1914. It contains fossils and prehistoric, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman artifacts. Entrance 20 TL.
- 9 Sivas City Museum (Sivas Şehir Müzesi), Atatürk Blv 2. Museum of town life in the former governor's house. Signage is only in Turkish. Entrance 5 TL.
- Industry School Museum (Sanayi mektebi müzesi), Mevlana, Rahmi Günay Cd. No:40. Nominally open 8AM-5PM, but hours are erratic. An exhibition of handicrafts behind the Archaeological Museum, in a former open prison.
- 1 Kurşunlu Hammam (Kurşunlu Hamamı) (East side of Behram Paşa Hotel). Hamamı are traditional baths in a 16th century building. Entrance 70 TL.
- Football: Sivasspor play soccer in Süper Lig, Turkey's top tier, and sometimes qualify for European tournaments. Their home ground is New Sivas 4 Eylül Stadium (capacity 27,500), opened in 2016. It's 3 km west of city centre near the junction with D200 - that's one km beyond the former stadium, don't let the taxi driver fob you off.
handcrafted silver, handcrafted cigarette holder and pen, famous carpets and rugs
- Local specialties: Sivas Köfte somewhat resembles pork sausage. Others are pezük pickle, Sivas döner, Sivas kebap, sübüra, hurma and yumurta erişte.
- Around Meydan are Lezzetçi (below), Serkan Bey, Komagene Çiğ Köfte Salonu, Serender, Pizza Point and 3N Sofra.
- Lezzetçi, 11-Aliağa Cami Sk 10, ☏ . Daily 06:00-00:00. Great place for all the Turkish favourites.
Just east of Meydan are Rain Pub, Merkez Türkü Bar, Sis Pub and Kervan Biranesi.
- Beyaz Inci Otel, 8th Sk (100 m east of Buruciye medressah), ☏ . Pleasant clean place in town centre. B&B double 800 TL.
- Buruciye Otel is next to Beyaz Inci, cleanliness varies.
- Kosk Hotel is at Atatürk Blv 7, 200 m east of Meydan.
- 1 Sultan Otel, 11-Belediye Sk 18, ☏ . About the best choice you can make in town centre, smart and welcoming. B&B double 800 TL.
- 2 Behram Paşa Otel, Arap Şeyh Cd 29, ☏ . Atmospheric hotel in a 16th century caravanserai and covered market. Very slow internet presumably due to thick walls. Annoyingly even when the central courtyard is covered people still smoke. B&B double 1400 TL.
- 3 Sivas Büyük Hotel, Istasyon Cd, ☏ . Good mid-range hotel towards the railway station. B&B double 1000 TL.
- 4 Sivas Keykavus Hotel, Bağdat Cd, ☏ . Great reviews for this smart hotel south edge of town. B&B double 1000 TL.
- Malia Hotel[dead link] is next to Keykavus, similar prices.
- 5 Ramada, Çevre Yolu Cd 74, ☏ . Clean comfy chain hotel on main highway 3 km from town, good for motorists. B&B double 1200 TL.
As of Nov 2022, Sivas and its approach highways have 4G from all Turkish carriers. 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
Go next Edit
- Yıldız Dağı is a mountain resort 50 km north, with ski lifts.
- Soğuk Çermik is a spa 20 km east on D200, near a lake.
- Kangal on the road to Divriği is the source of the Kangal breed of sheepdogs. The town spa touts its fish pedicures, a fashion that came and went in the west with little benefit to feet or fishes.
- Divriği, with its impressive UNESCO World Heritage listed mosque, is 180 km southeast, reached by bus or train from Sivas.
- Kayseri also has Seljuk heritage and serves as an entry point into Cappadocia.
|Routes through Sivas|
|Ankara ← Kırıkkale ( N / S) ← Yozgat ( N) ←||W E||→ Erzincan → Ends at|
|Ends at in Ünye (W E) ← Tokat ←||N S||→ Darende → Gaziantep|
|Ankara ← Kayseri ←||W E||→ Divriği → Elazığ|
|Ankara ← Yozgat ←||W E||→ END|
|Ankara ← Kayseri ←||W E||→ Divriği → Kars|