The Seljuk Han of Anatolia


the above photos are from the Samsun Kavak official website

Sketch plan of the entry of the han by Henry Van Lennep; note the fine detailing on the sides of the portal, for the most part now lost

(see his sketch map of the region below)

Seljuk Bridge built at the same time as the han; restored in the Ottoman period

Karpuz Anadolu Seluklu Eserleri (2008) v.2, p. 276.




The akalli han is located off the Amasya-Samsun Road, 10 km northwest of Kavak near the village of akalli.

[driving directions]


Taş Han


Estimated at 1237-1244; during the reign of Giyaseddin Keyhsrev II (d. 1246)



There is no inscription plaque.



Although there is no inscription plaque indicating the construction date or the patron, it is generally assumed that this han dates from the same era as the Ezinepazar and iftlik Hans (mid 13th century). Although is not attributed to the group of seven hans traditionally considered as commissions of Mahperi Hatun (Pazar, Cimcimli, ekereksu, Tahtoba, Ibipse, iftlik and Ezinepazar), it could possibly be considered as part of her program.

Covered section with an open courtyard (COC)

Covered sections smaller than the courtyard

Covered section with a central nave and 1 nave on each side running perpendicular to the rear wall

6 lines of support cross vaults parallel to the rear wall

The han faces east.

The covered hall is the only section remaining. The courtyard walls have fallen and no longer exist, but some of its stones were used to build a retaining wall for the homeowner next door.

No bath or mosque has been found. The han lies next to a stream which served as the water source for the han.

Although not depicted on the plan below, there is a small doorway leading to the hall on the northern side of the front wall of the covered section, which was probably cut sometime after the 1950's.

Each side of the hall door is decorated with a band of handsome pointed key motifs, a decor found on many Seljuk monuments. It is identical to the portal decoration on the nearby Burmali Mosque in Amasya, dated 1237, which supports a similar date of construction for this han.

Total Area: 1,300m2
Hall area: 570m2
Courtyard area: 500m2


The hall is in relatively good condition. The Seljuk trade route passed in front of the han and followed the akalli River, but during Ottoman times, this road was abandoned in favor of a road passing farther below. This han was restored in Ottoman times as this road was in commercial use up until the 17th century. The han stood empty until about 75 years ago. A restoration project for the han began in 2012 and was completed in August, 2013.


Below the han is an Ottoman-era bridge and the wooden Kasımzade Ahmed Sufi Cami ("Aşaği Mahalle Cami"), dated 1878.

Acun, p. 484.

Erdmann, pp. 77-79, no. 22.

Karpuz, Kuş, Dıvarcı and Şiek (2008), vol. 2, p. 275.

Rice, p, 206.

Van Lennep, (1870), p. 65-68.



The American Protestant missionary Henry John Van Lennep, who worked in Tokat from 1854-56, described his initial voyage down the Samsun road to Tokat in his journal, Travels in Little-Known Parts of Asia Minor. An accomplished artist, Van Lennep also included a fine sketch of the portal, as well as a detailed map. He captures well the beauty of this Pontic region and the ardors of the road at this time:


" generally follow an old paved road built some fifty years ago or more by a rich but wicked Turk, who hoped by this means to make the scales turn in his favor at the Judgment Day. The road passes along the edge of a precipice, and having never been repaired since it was made, the stones, which are large, have not only been worn smooth and slippery, but they have also been so displaced in many spots as to make a transit among them perilous in the extreme. We were, however, well rewarded for our perseverance when we made our exit on the other side, and all along our descent to Chakallu Khan, which lies six hours from Samsoon. Such beautiful fields, green hedges, fine fields of grain, and charming weeds, seemed altogether an anomaly in this part of the world. Our eyes could not cease to gaze upon the varied outlines, and the rich hues of the scenery, and we might have imagined ourselves among the charming hills, valleys, and hedgerows of old England, but for the tall and snow-capped mountains which occasionally peer in the horizon, and the complete absence of the neat and tasteful English cottage, and the harsh gutturals of the Koordish muleteers. And so we reached Chakallu Khan, the Jackal Han, which is really a collection of several hans built at different times. [note: the others were log cabin types of hostels built at a later date.] The oldest and original structure was of stone, and though somewhat in ruins, is yet inhabitable. It consists of a court with rooms on the right and left, and a large empty stable at the extremity. The doorway of the stable is handsome, and built in a style of architecture which denotes a considerable antiquity, possibly 700 years....The name of this place indicates that jackals are yet found in this neighborhood; but they are found no further inland." 


























































The Cakalli Valley as seen from the han


photos of the han before the 2013 renovation:

Keystone decoration on right side of covered section portal


detail of keystones, left side of portal



sketch map by Lennep of the Samsun-Tokat Road (1854) with at least 7 hans marked

Karpuz Anadolu Seluklu Eserleri (2008) v.2, p. 274.




2001-2017, Katharine Branning; All Rights Reserved. No part of this site may be reproduced in any form without written consent from the author.