The Seljuk Han of Anatolia


One of the four hans originally built on the Konya-Beysehir road, the Kizilören Han is impressive due to its pastoral setting, the numerous Byzantine reuse (spolia) stones used in its construction and its large size.


Eravşar, 2017. p. 154; photo I. Dıvarcı

photo Ahmet Kuş, January 2012

photo Ahmet Kuş, January 2012

plan drawn by Erdmann

plan drawn during renovation

courtyard before restoration




The han is situated 44 km (30 miles) from Konya along the Konya-Beyşehir Road. It is one of the series of 4 hans originally along this stretch of road: starting from the Konya direction, the Altinapa (now submerged by the waters behind the Altinapa Dam), the Kuruçeşme Han, the Kizilören Han, and the Yunuslar Han (mentioned in sources but whose traces have not been identified). This is the third han west of Konya. It is 10 miles west of the Kuruçeşme Han, and lies parallel to the modern road, with the door facing Konya. There is a Seljuk Bridge over the Sari Su about 6 km further west.


The modern highway was laid parallel to the historic caravan route and has covered over most of its original traces. The road that the han was built upon followed the path of the 1,000 year older Via Sebastia that the apostle Paul traveled on four times (twice on his First Journey (heading east and then returning west), and on his Second and Third Journeys (both times heading west).


The existence of four hans in such a short proximity shows the vitality of the trade along this route leading to the capital city of Konya in the Seljuk period. The density of hans along this relatively short stretch of road bears witness to the heavy commercial use of this road, leading to the capital city of Konya.



Yazı Han


The name means the han of the "Red Ruins", probably due to the fact that the stone has a distinctive reddish cast.


The Russian naturalist and geologist Tschihatscheff, who visited the Konya region on June, 1, 1848, mentioned the ruined Seljuk village of Kizilören and said there were two hans in use here, obviously referring to this one and the nearby Kuruçeşme Han. He also noted that the noonday temperature was 49.8 degrees Celsius – in the shade. The traveler Pace in 1926 that he believed the Kuruçeşme was more solidly built than this one. He drew its plan and described its architectural features.


The han is referred to as the Yazi Han in Ottoman sources.  


There is much confusion about the names of this han and its neighboring han, the Kuruceşme Han, over the years until the present, both in academic literature and by the locals. They are invariably called the Kuruçeşme, Kandemir, or Kizilören Han. Be that what it is, on this site this han will be referred to as the Kizilören Han, distinct from the Kuruceşme Han



Once upon a time there was an inscription of four lines above the entrance door of the han. The inscription has, alas, gone missing today. Pace saw the inscription, but declared it illegible. However, Riefstahl took a photograph of the inscription plaque before it was lost, and the Austrian Orientalist Paul Wittek read the inscription for him. It has also been published by R. Oğuz Arık.


The four-lined inscription reads as follows: 

"Built during the reign of the Great Sultan, the Sultan of the Arabs and Persians, the hero and the deputy of the Commander of the Believers, Keyhüsrev bin Kılıç Arslan. Emir Kandemir has ordered this han to be built in the month of Muharram, 603

1205-6 (dated by inscription)

This makes this han one of the earliest dated Seljuk hans. This date corresponds with the construction in the same period as the other hans along this route, between 1207 and 1210. It is remarkable to see two hans (Kuruçeşme and Kızıl
ören) built so close to each other (10 km apart), on the same route and at the same approximate time.


Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev I


Emir Kutluğ bin Muhammed (Emir Kandemir)


According to the inscription, the Kızılören Han was built during the reign of Sultan Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev I and was commissioned by Emir Kutluğ bin Muhammed (Emir Kandemir), an emir serving the sultan, in 603/1207.


It remains a mystery why the Kuruçeşme Han, whose inscription makes no reference to Emir Kandemir, bears his name, and this one, attested in the inscription as built by Emir Kandemir, does not bear his name.



Covered with open courtyard (COC)

Covered section same width as the courtyard

Covered section with 1 central aisle and 1 aisle on each side running perpendicular to the back wall
6 bays of vaults in the aisles


The Kizilören Han consists of a covered section and an open courtyard with service areas in front of it. The covered section is the same width as the courtyard area and is oriented east-west. This han was in a complete ruins until recently, resembling a jumble of rocks after an earthquake, but it was possible to reconstruct the plan from the remaining traces


Throughout this han there are many Byzantine reuse stones (spolia), mostly used as column capitals and lintel stones. Byzantine reuse material is evident in every section of this han. Column capitals have been laid horizontally into the wall and have been used as imposts between columns and voussoirs (the wedge-shaped stones forming the curved part of the arch or ceiling). The triangular voussoirs and rosette decoration appear to be a degenerate Byzantine interpretation of the antique Corinthian capital. In the western rear wall of the covered section, there is a large stone piece decorated with a cross set in a circle, and which must have been a lintel in a church. Reuse spolia stones are generally used as wall decoration in most hans, but in this han they serve as supporting architectural elements. In view of the large amount of spolia used here, it is believed that parts of an earlier Byzantine church were used in the construction of the han.



The original form of the crown door of the entrance is unclear since it was in such a ruined state. However, the basic structure of the crown door was uncovered during the restoration and was rebuilt using the crown door of the covered section as a model.


The southern (left) side of the courtyard comprises an open arcade of five sections, supported by five piers. The right side is comprised of a series of five spaces covered by pointed barrel vaults in the north-south direction.


Covered section:

The main door to the covered section is 2.4 m wide has a deep niche of 1.4m with a pointed arch springing from reuse stone column capitals with ribbed carving. The interior niche arches are set on the sides with Byzantine reuse columns with column capitals. A marble inscription panel in the form of an arch is placed above the entry. The outer surrounding inscription panel has a rectangular frame. Some reuse spolia materials, thought to be parts of an altar, were placed at the same height on both sides of the walls of the crown door. The tympanum of the door opening is empty, and no inscription board or any other elements can be seen here. The form of arches and the doorways is similar to the crown door of the Altınapa Han along the same road.


The covered section has three naves. The middle nave is higher and wider than the side naves. The naves are composed of two support lines connected with six pointed arches carried on five piers in each line. The naves are covered with pointed vaults.


The arcades of the covered section spring from substantial square stone pillars or from columns composed of Byzantine capitals. On the raised loading dock platform of the covered section, there are remnants of a tandir clay oven, used for heating, cooking and baking. It consists of a pit sunk into the platform, about 15 in deep, and connected to a horizontal shaft to provide air.



There is no decoration in this han other than the elements displayed on the spolia stones.

Total area: 1,200m2
Area of hall: 430 m2
Area of courtyard: 655 m2

For many years this han stood abandoned and in ruins. The foundation walls were standing, but the roof of the covered section had collapsed, as had most of the arcades in the courtyard. In 2011 the han was completely restored and is now open for visits.



Acun, H. Anadolu Selçuklu Dönemi Kervansarayları. Ankara: Kültür Bakanlığı Publications, 2007, p. 513 (called the Kuruçeşme Han).

Arık, R. O. Ankara-Konya-Eskişehir Yazilikaya Gezleri. Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1956.

Bektaş, Cengiz. Selçuklu kervansarayları, korunmaları ve kullanılmaları uzerine bir öneri = A proposal regarding the Seljuk caravanserais, their protection and use, 1999, pp. 82-83 (he calls the han the Kuruçeşme Han).

Eravşar, Osman. Yollarin Taniklari (Witnesses of the Way), 2017, pp. 154-159.

Erdmann, Kurt. Das Anatolische Karavansaray des 13. Jahrhunderts, 1961. Vol. 1, no. 3, fig 14-15. (He calls it the Han Onu)

Hillenbrand, R. Islamic Architecture: Form, function and meaning, 1994, fig. 6.62, p. 553.

Karpuz, Haşim. & Kuş, A. & Dıvarcı, I. & Şimşek, F. Anadolu Selçuklu Eserleri, 2008., vol. 2, p. 84.

Kiepert, R. Karte von Kleinasien, in 24 Blatt bearbeitet, 1902-1916.

Kuş, A., I. Dıvarcı and F. Şimşek. Konya ve ilçelerindeki Selçuklu Eserleri. Konya: Selçuklu Belediyesi Kultur Yayinlari, 2005, p. 35.

Pace, B. Richerche nella regione di Conia, Adalia e Scalanova. Annuario della R. Scuola Archeologica di Atene e delle Missioni Italiane in Oriente, 1923-1926, 1926.

Riefstahl, R. Meyer. Turkish Architecture in southwestern Anatolia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1931.

Tschihatscheff, P.v. Reisen in Kleinasien und Armenien. Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1867, p. 8.

Wilson, Mark. Biblical Turkey: A Guide to the Jewish and Christian Sites of Asia Minor. Istanbul: Ege Yayinlari, 2010, p. 170.










4 line inscription photographed by Riefstahl


The following photographs show the han in 2005 prior to the renovation:

entry portal


Karpuz, Anadolu Selçuklu Eserleri (2008) v.2, p. 84

inscription plaque on covered section portal

the han seen from the road, prior to the renovation

han courtyard looking east towards entry

han courtyard looking west towards covered section


Byzantine reuse capital stones






Click thumbnails to enlarge photos of the Kiziloren Han (photos taken in 2008 and 2009):




Courtyard arch spring

Courtyard cells north

Courtyard cells north

Courtyard cells south

Court cell arch detail, south

View of courtyard from covered section

View of courtyard from covered section

View of southern courtyard cells

View of southern courtyard cells

View of covered section

Rear wall of covered section with spolia lintel

Inscription plaque

View of covered section

View of covered section arches

Tandir bread ovens in covered section

Tandir bread ovens in covered section

Tandir bread ovens in covered section

Byzantine reuse stones used as columns

Byzantine reuse stones used as columns

Byzantine reuse stones used as columns

Byzantine reuse stones used as columns

Byzantine reuse stones used as columns

Byzantine reuse stones used as columns

Byzantine reuse stones used as columns









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