Seljuk Caravanserais on the route from Denizli to Dogubeyazit
Ministry of Culture
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The caravanserais, a new architectural type with social function developed in central Asia by the Karakhanids and Ghaznavids passed into Anatolian Turkish architecture. The institution of caravanserais has its most variations in Seljuk Anatolia, using the forms of Anatolian stone architecture. These buildings offering travellers in mountain and desert all the possibilities and comforts of civilization of the period each effectively a social fondation subject to an organized and continuous state programme, appear to present a typical characteristic of Turkish society, Denizli-Dogubeyazlt Route consists of about 40 Hans about which 10 are very well preserved. 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 Caravanserais were havens in which caravans could take shelter. They have their origins in the nomadic lifestyles of the Turkish tribes of Central Asia. At a very early period there existed a social institution called muyanl~k, a word that means "charity", "pious deed", and "kindsess." These were generally simple dormitories that offered travelers food and a place to sleep. By the 7 th centruy, these simple dormitories had developed into more complex establishments called ribat, a word that may be translated as "inn." There is evidence that hundreds of these ribats were built. The culmination of this line of development is the massive caravanserais that the Seljuks built in Anatolia. Caravanserais were huge accommodations, facilities that provided shelter, food and drink for a caravan's full complement of people, animals, and cargo and could also handle its needs for maintenance, treatment, and care. They were arranged along trade routes at intervals that were calculated in view of the amount of distance that a caravan could be expected to cover in a single day. This distance was called menzil in Turkish, a word that means, among other things, "journey" in its archaic sense of "a day's travel". On the basis of the examples remaining and other evidence, this menzil seems to have averaged about 30 kilometre the equivalent, under normal conditions, of a six-hour journey to which another two hours had to be added for arduous travel in regions like deserts. Caravanserais or their simpler cousins, khans, were always located to that a caravan could be sure of reaching one by the day's end. Architecture and function Architecture is always determined by climatic and environmental conditions but never more so than in the case of caravanserais, to which the problem of security had to be added. Caravanserais in the eastern part of Anatolia for example were built like small, square castles heavily fortified with thick walls of stone. as we move westward on the other hand, they tend to be U-shaped and built of masonry and even, on occasion, of mud brick, Other differences are also apparent in such details s the sizes of individual rooms, the width of doors and windows, and the units and functional divisions they contained. Nevertheless there were certain things that every caravanserai had to have. There were certain to be baths, a masjid, a cistern o fountain, an infirmary, a cookshop, a place for the storage of provisions, and shops. Among the personnel there would certainly be a wainman, a blacksmith, a money-changer, a tailor, a cobbler, a physician, a veterinary, and so on. About 250 Anatolian caravanserais are known. Of these, eight are called sultanhan (literally "sultanis khan") and were all built in the 13 th century. Those constructed in the early part of the century generally conford to a standard plan of a courtyard and enclosed arens covering the same amount of ground. Seven of these building bean identifying inscriptions and one does not. Some of them are still referred to by the name sultanhan who others acquired local names to distinguish them. Agzikara Han is probably one of the most important "ordinary" khans and the degree of its workmanship approches that of the royal khans. It is another of those caravanserais whose massive portal and rowers give it the appearance of a fortified castle. The double portal, free-standing masjid and domed hall, as well as the quality of its architecture, are all worthy of a true royal khan. The main portal is decorated with geometric patterns. Between the surmounting muqarnas and framing arches is a band of swastikas. The building was completed in 1237. Sultan Han On the Kayseri-Sivas road is another caravanserai with the name Sultan Han. Covering 3,900 square meters, it is the second-largest of the buildings of the group. All the distinguishing features of the Konya-Aksaray caravanserai are repeated here. The massive walls and supporting turret-towers give the building the appearance of a fortress.