Kayseri is a large city but most of the attractions can be found in the compact historic city center. A great place to start exploring the city is Cumhuriyet Meydanı, the main square. It’s a wide open space featuring a couple statues of the ever-present Atatürk on one end and the Saat Kulesi (clock tower) on the other. Mimar Sinan Parkı, which contains some important Selçuk monuments, is to the northwest.
The Bürüngüz Camii is near the clock tower. It was built in 1977 although it looks much older.
The Sahabiye Medresesi sits on the north end of Cumhuriyet Meydanı. It was built in 1267 as a theological school but is now used as a book bazaar.
Kayseri Castle, the imposing structure on the south end of Cumhuriyet Meydanı, was originally built in the 500s by Byzantine Emperor Justinian. It was patched up a few times by the Selçuks, Ottomans, and modern Turkey. At the time of my visit it held a bazaar but was scheduled to become an arts and cultural center with museums.
To the east of the castle, a small tomb, the Zeynel Abidin Türbesi, holds the tomb of a Muslim saint from the 12th or 13th century. The tomb was built around 1885 by Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamit II.
A magnificent Selçuk mosque, Mahperi Hunat Hatun Camii, is south of the tomb. It was built in 1238 and still has a functioning hamam.
The people of Kayseri are well-known across Turkey for their business acumen. To get a firsthand glimpse of this, the Kapalı Çarşı (Covered Bazaar) is a great place to go haggle with shopkeepers. According to many of my students in Istanbul, you think you’re getting a great deal, but the sellers from Kayseri always win big.
The Vezir Hanı behind Kapalı Çarşı is also worth popping into. This two story workshop was built in 1723 by Grand Vizier Nevşehirli Damat İbrahim Paşa who was from Cappadocia. He served under Ahmet III.
Next to the han is Ulucami. This mosque was started by the Danışmendli emirs of Kayseri in 1135 and finished by the Selçuks in 1205.
If you’re looking for Ottoman remnants in Kayseri, there aren’t many, but the Güpgüpoğlu Konağı is one of the most fascinating Ottoman mansions in Turkey. It was built in 1417 and now serves as the city’s ethnography museum.
The nearby Atatürk Evi is a museum decorated in the style used at the time Atatürk would have visited Kayseri.
The Surp Asdvadzadzin Armenian Church served Kayseri’s once large Armenian population. It’s now used as a sports center. Another church, Surp Krikor Lusuvoriç, is one of the most important Armenian churches in Anatolia. It sits on the outskirts of the old city and still celebrates mass twice a year.
Kayseri has a few Selçuk tombs standing in odd places around town. The most famous of these is the Döner Kümbet (Revolving Tomb). It was built in 1276 for princess Şah Cihan Hatun. It’s not a long walk down the main boulevard heading south from the castle.
Another less famous kümbet sits closer to the castle, across the street from the Yoğunburç Tower.
The rest of the city, to be brutally honest, modern and ugly.