The Seljuk Han of Anatolia

About this website....


This website contains information on caravanserais (known in Turkish as hans), an important group of buildings built in Turkey during the Seljuk era of the 13th century (1071-1306).

The objectives of this site are to:

 

- serve as an introduction to the Turkish han of the Seljuk era

- furnish a descriptive list of hans currently standing, as well as those in ruins

- provide resources for those who wish to study the architecture of hans

- generate a greater appreciation of the art, history and architecture of the Seljuk period

- offer information for planning a visit to a han

It is the intention of this site to foster a discovery and greater appreciation of the universal historical, social and artistic value of the Seljuk caravanserai. This is a general introduction to the subject, destined for a general audience. A bibliography is included for further reading on the subject should the reader wish to seek more exhaustive information, and the references consulted for each han are listed at the end of its description. The site presents an overview of the hans that are currently standing, in good condition and that can be visited, as well as those in ruins. This site does not include hans built in the Beylik or Ottoman eras.

In as far as possible, current photos of the restored hans are shown. The Turkish government has undertaken extensive architectural restoration endeavors over the last 5 years, but the photos on this site try to depict the current state of the han as well as its pre-renovation condition. These are included to show the original fabric of the buildings, often masked by the restoration, and, as such, are of interest for historians. Photos are by the author unless indicated otherwise.

The study of the Anatolian Seljuk era, and in particular, its architecture, is a relatively recent field of research. Friedrich Sarre (Reise in Kleinasien, 1896) visited six hans (Goncali Akhan, Işakli, Eğirdir, Obruk, Horozlu and Sultan Han Aksaray) and published the inscription of the the Incir Han. He drew the plans for the Akhan, Horozlu, and the Sultan Han Aksaray. Efforts to analyze these buildings began in earnest in the mid-1950’s with the work of Osman Turan and Kurt Erdmann. Ünal, in his groundbreaking article in 1978, has published the largest number of monographs on the newly-discovered hans, and proposed his own plan typology system. In the past 20 years, Turkish scholars, such as A.T. Yavuz, Mustafa Önge, Osman Eravşar and Ali Baş as well as foreign researchers such as Redford, Blessing and Tavernari, have come to the fore in the study of the Turkish han. They have analyzed not only their plans, but have investigated such topics as their link to power imagery, patronage, road infrastructure, commercial aspects, craftsmen, construction techniques and materials, geological conditions, patronage, and their positioning along trade routes. The Turkish government has set a goal to restore every han currently standing, and has completed countless restoration projects. Numerous excavation projects of individual hans have been undertaken over the past few years. Indeed, the long-overlooked world of the Seljuks, always shadowed by the Ottoman era, is now an established field of academic study.

The Turkish Government has submitted a request to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) that the "Seljuk Caravanserais on the route from Denizli to Doğubeyazit" be placed on the World Heritage List of Monuments, due to their participation in the interchange of human values and the arts, their exceptional testimony to the cultural traditions of a civilization which has disappeared, and their illustration of an outstanding type of building.

This website, created in 2000, was the first attempt to present an overview of Seljuk hans to the public at large, and the first in English. This website strives to consolidate the work of the past and present scholars to present it in an ongoing and up-to-date presentation. It is hoped that this modest site will inspire the architecturally curious from all over the world to visit and appreciate this outstanding corpus of world architecture.

The author and webmaster of this site is Katharine Branning. The site reflects the yearly field work done by the author, a librarian, art historian and writer, in the years 1978 to the present. I would like to thank the photographer and filmmaker Ibrahim Divarci of Konya, Turkey, for his ongoing support and for his generous permission to use his photographs on this site.

Please send comments and suggestions!

last update: October 8, 2018

 

 

   

 

©2001-2018, Katharine Branning; All Rights Reserved. No part of this site may be reproduced in any form without written consent from the author.