Posted by Vi Warkentin on
Need a rest after a long day’s journey? This calls for a stop at the next caravanserai ( call it a truck stop for camels, if you like!)
A caravanserai is a roadside inn where travellers used to stop to rest from a long day’s journey. Caravanserais aided the flow of commerce, information, and people across the complex network of caravan trade routes spread across southern Europe, North Africa, and Asia. Caravanserais provided shelter, food and drink for the travellers, their animals and cargo. These inns would all have specific areas within their walls - baths, a mescit (mosque), cisterns or fountains, a room for cooking, rooms for sleeping, rooms for storage and repair shops.
The Sultan Han is a Seljuk caravanserai located in Sultanhani, a town some 40 kms west of Aksaray in central Turkey built in the early 1200’s. I found it to be a beautiful structure and one of my favourite stops in central Turkey.
The beautifully carved east entrance (portal) of Sultan Han.A sign at the Aksaray Sultanhani caravanserai entrance.
As I entered through the large entry doors, I stepped into the courtyard of the caravanserai at Aksaray Sultanhani with the free-standing mescit (mosque) in the center nearest the front entrance. The base level contained the fountain basin with the upper story containing the prayer room (mescit) with access to the mescit via a staircase. Beyond the courtyard stands a massive covered hall - used during the cold months to shelter the merchants and their animals from the harsh winter weather.
Storage bins, repair shops, places to groom horses and camels and a place to sleep in warmer weather line the one side of the caravanserai.
Looking through the arches of the open shops that line the edge of the caravanerai.Glancing through the arches of the central mosque towards the enclosed rooms opposite the shops.One of the doorways to what might have been a space for a kitchen, administration offices, hammams (bathing rooms) and sleeping areas for the visiting merchants opposite the open air shops.I checked the translation for yemek which means dining. And Hane meaning households. So perhaps this was a dining room or a kitchen for the caravanerai.A closer look into the Yemek Hane.A large room next to the Yemek Hane space shows tiny rooms off the main room. Perhaps sleeping quarters?
Next to come - more on Sultanhani.