Seljuk Caravanserais on the route from Denizli to Dogubeyazit

Seljuk Caravanserais on the route from Denizli to Dogubeyazit

The Karakhanids and Ghaznavids introduced the caravanserais, a new architectural form with social purpose created in central Asia, into Anatolian Turkish architecture.

Caravanserais were a standard form of lodging in Seljuk Anatolia, where the forms of Anatolian stone architecture were used. These structures, which provided traders with all the amenities and facilities of the period, including a social foundation subject to an organized and continuous state program, appear to represent a typical feature of Turkish culture on Denizli-Dogubeyazlt Route, which has about 40 caravanserais and ten are exceptionally well preserved.

Seljuk Caravanserais on the route from Denizli to Dogubeyazit

Some of these are Akhan, Ertokus Han, Saadettin Han, Obruk Han, Agzikarahan, Sultan Han (2), Oresin Han, Sikre Han, Mamahatun Caravenseria and Hacibekir Han.

Caravanserais were places where caravans might take shelter. The nomadic lifestyles of the Turkish peoples in Central Asia are believed to be the origin. A social organization known as muyanlik, which translates as "charity," "pious action," and "goodness," existed at an early date. These were generally simple dormitories that provided travelers with meals and a place to sleep. By the 7th century, these basic dormitories had evolved into more sophisticated facilities known as ribats, a term that means "inn." There is evidence that hundreds of these ribats were constructed over time.

The Seljuks' grand caravanserais in Anatolia were the final result of this line of development. Caravanserais were enormous lodgings with amenities such as food, drink, and shelter for a caravan's full complement of people, animals, and goods. They could also handle the caravan's maintenance, treatment, and care needs. Caravans were positioned along trade routes at intervals that corresponded to the amount of distance a caravan might travel in a day, depending on the length of time it took to cover each leg.

This distance appears to have averaged about 30 kilometers, or 22 miles, under average conditions, which is roughly equivalent to a six-hour journey with another two hours added for difficult travel in places like deserts. Caravanserais or their simpler counterparts, Hans, were generally located so that a caravan might arrive by the end of the day. The architectural style of caravanserai was influenced by climatic and environmental factors but never more so than when considering security issues.

For example, caravanserais in the east of Anatolia, because of weather conditions and safety concern, were built like little square fortresses with substantial solid stone walls. In contrast, they become U-shaped as we proceed west and are composed of masonry and even mud brick. Other variances are further apparent in such elements as room sizes, door and window widths, and functional divisions. However there were certain things that every caravanserai needed to have.

Seljuk Caravanserais on the route from Denizli to Dogubeyazit

There were certain to be baths, a mosque, a well, an infirmary, a cookshop, storage space for foodstuffs, and businesses. A wainman, blacksmith, money-changer, tailor, cobbler , veterinarian , and so on would work among the staff. About 250 Anatolian caravanserais are known. Of these, eight are referred to as sultanhan (literally "sultan's han") and were all constructed in the 13th century.

The majority of these buildings were constructed at the beginning of the century, and they usually have a similar layout: a courtyard with enclosed yards covering the same amount of space. Seven of them bear inscriptions that identify them as sultanhan, while one does not. Some are still known by their Sultanhan name, while others acquired local names to distinguish them.

The Agzikarahan probably has the same level of workmanship as the royal hans, and it is one of the most significant "ordinary" hans. It's another one of those caravanserais with a massive entrance that looks like a walled castle. The double portal, free-standing mosque, and domed hall, as well as the quality of its construction, are all deserving of a genuine royal han. Geometric designs adorn the main doorway.

A band of swastikas runs between the surmounting muqarnas and the frame arches. Sultan Han, on the Kayseri-Sivas road, is another caravanserai with the same name. It is the second-largest of the structures in this group, covering 3,900 square meters. The features of the Konya-Aksaray caravan station are all reproduced here. The massive walls and tower turrets give the impression that it's a fortress.

The Seljuk Caravanserais on the route from Denizli to Dogubeyazit has been added to the Tentative List of UNESCO in 2000.