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Haci Bektas Veli Complex

Date of Submission: 13/04/2012
Criteria: (iii)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of Turkey to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
District of Hacibektas, Province of Nevsehir, Central Anatolia
Coordinates: N34 33 39 E38 56 38
Ref.: 5735

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Haci Bektas Veli is the great Turkish philosopher of the 13th century, the practitioner of Hoca Ahmed Yesevi’s doctrines in Anatolia and the eponym of the Bektashism, a religious order of Alevism. The base of his philosophy lies on humanity, human rights and social equality that he counsels for the man to be modest, to purify his soul, to mature, to abstain from show off and to be full of love of God. His principles lead to the cultural harmony and enlightening in Anatolia.

The belief system of Bektashism, based on the “Love of Universe-God-Man” has spread rapidly throughout the Anatolia after his death. Bektashi dervishes also spread to different parts of the world once they reached to a certain level of maturity in order to disseminate the Bektashi humanity in the world. Therefore, Bektashism lives today not only in Hacibektas, but also in many countries particularly those in Balkans and Middle East.

The Complex founded in the 14th century is located in the district of Hacibektas in central Kizilirmak region of Central Anatolia. When Haci Bektas Veli moved from Nisabur in Horasan, Sulucakarahoyuk, the name of the district at that time, was a small village which eventually developed and expanded. The name has been changed after death of Haci Bektas Veli in 1337 in commemoration of the tolerance atmosphere he built on the grounds of humanity.

The Complex, which had the settlement pattern of the Turkish Palaces with courtyards, around which the units were settled according to their functions, consists of buildings around the 1st courtyard (Nadar), 2nd courtyard (dervish lodge) and 3rd courtyard. It was built by simple stonemasonry and decorated with ornaments particular to Bektashism. The Complex has witnessed many additions and comprehensive restoration in time, but it reached its present form mainly in the 16th century.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Bektashism, developed on the philosophy of Haci Bektas Veli in the 13th century, is a belief system which has been followed by many believers not only in Anatolia, but also in the Balkans and the Middle East. The words of 13th century philosopher Haci Bektas Veli are such as to giving messages to 8 centuries later that they also coincide with the “Un-Declaration of Human Rights” which was accepted in 1948.

Haci Bektas Veli had great influence on the turkization of Anatolia as well as establishment of Ottoman Empire. He is a leader which is also known and respected by the people of Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Hungary and Romania.

The special ceremony named “Semah” and the ritual meeting of “Cem” are important components of Alevi and Bektashi society which are still performed in the 21st century.

Figures in Semah, which represent the movement of a bird (crane) and circulation of planets around the sun, was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on the 16th November 2010.

Criterion (iii): Haci Bektas Veli Complex is recognized as the center of Bektashism and is one of the very rare order complexes that maintained most of its features. Many symbols used in the structuring of the building represent main philosophies of the order. It is aimed to shape the physical life in the light of the spirituality by means of adapting the motives of Bektashism into the architecture and interior design of the Complex.

Upright triangle used in motive of Suleyman’s Stamp in the 1st courtyard represents the water i.e. truth; reverse triangle represents the fire, i.e. false, meaning the life is all about the conflict between the truths and falses. The rose motive in the middle symbolizes synthesis and love.Timber ceilings of Cem Room and Meydancı Baba Room were constructed by bingi technique in which the crossway beams were attached to each other representing the nine levels of the celestial sphere. The doors of the building are mainly in small dimensions to ensure bowing while entering. 12 peltries laid on the three-sided coaches of Cem Room symbolize 12 imams, representing stages and ranks on the religion way and emphasizing to be removed from arrogance and to be modest while the rank rises.

Criterion (vi): Haci Bektas Veli Complex is directly and intangibly related with Bektashism and of outstanding universal value due to the reasons that the 13th century words of Haci Bektas Veli coincides with the “Un-Declaration of Human Rights” of 20th century; rituals of Cem and Semah are still executed by the followers in the 21th century and the Complex was the center where this philosophy was founded and disseminated to the world. The Complex is also recognized as the belief center by the Alevi and Bektashi people.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Having served as dergah since 13th century, the Complex was closed on the 30th of November, 1925 accordingly to the “Act for Dissolving the Lodges and Corners” and opened as museum in 1964 following the decision of the Cabinet dated 1960.

Haci Bektas Veli Complex has still kept its authenticity and integrity with its components standing strongly and originally.

Comparison with other similar properties

Although Alevi-Bektashi communities are existent all across Turkey, they mostly concentrated in certain regions with different names. Apart from the fact that there is no site registered on the World Heritage List representing the values of Bektashism, Haci Bektas Veli Complex is the only one which is recognized as the “serçesme (Pir – the founder – the father)” by the Alevi-Bektashi people.