The Seljuk Han of Anatolia



A sentinel han in an isolated setting of romantic beauty, interesting for the bath built next to it and the unusual configuration of the loading platforms.




Eravşar, 2017. p. 499; photo I. Dıvarcı

photo by Ibrahim Divarci; used by permission

Eravşar, 2017. p. 504; photo I. Dıvarcı

main crown door

Eravşar, 2017. p. 506; photo I. Dıvarcı

main portal

detail, main portal, with empty inscription frame

photo by Ibrahim Divarci; used by permission

Eravşar, 2017. p. 504; photo I. Dıvarcı

Eravşar, 2017. p. 505; photo I. Dıvarcı

plan drawn by Erdmann

crown door to the covered section

Eravşar, 2017. p. 504; photo I. Dıvarcı

Bilici, vol. 1 p. 261

view from east, Kayi (Kargi) River and bathhouse in foreground




37.004592, 31.380153

The Kargi Han is located on the Antalya-Alanya road, 27 km to the north of Taşağıl, a coastal village 45 km east of Antalya, and just past the village of Beydığın in the Manavgat district. It is built along the banks of the Kayı (Kargi) River. Brown indicator signs clearly mark the road to the han through the densely-forested and mountainous terrain of the Köprülü Canyon forest. It is located just below the Kesikbeli gorge.


The han is located on the old Alanya-Konya caravan han route which crossed the Taurus Mountains that linked Antalya to Beyşehir and Konya. This route, which offered the shortest route between Antalya and Konya, continued on to the Seljuk Palace of Kubadabad in Beyşehir. It has been in use since Roman times. Although there are no remaining traces of the old caravan road, it is believed that the existing trail next to the han follows this former route.


The han is located in an isolated site, in the forests of the Köprülü Canyon. To reach this han one must climb a considerable distance. To build a han here in such an isolated spot reinforces the importance of ensuring a connecting link for the trade between the south coast and the inland. The first stopover han on the way to the Kubadabad Palace is the Eynif Tol Han. No other han exists in the direction of Manavgat, and the next han in the direction of Alanya is the Alara Han.


Manavgat-Kargı Han. The han, built along the banks of the Kargi River, took its name from the river.

The name of this han means the "Lance" han, a possible military reference.


As there is no inscription, the building date and the patron are unknown. This date is proposed by stylistic analysis with the Kirkgöz and Şarapsa Hans, built by the same Sultan, Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev II (1236-46) and which have the same plan features. This sultan was active in construction activities in the southern tier area.


Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev II (1236-46)

This han is believed to have been built at the same time as the Kirkgöz and Şarapsa Hans which have the same features. Erdmann states that the structure was built in the time of Sultan Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev II in the years 1236-1246.



The inscription over the portal is lost, as well as the one over the portal of the large room to the right of the entrance.



The patron of the han is not known.



Open courtyard (OC)
Covered section the same width as the courtyard
Covered section with two naves parallel to the rear wall
8 bays of vaults perpendicular to the rear wall

The Kargi Han is oriented north-south, with the entrance facing south. Its large dimensions and outstanding stone workmanship are impressive. It is particularly interesting because it retains almost all of its original features, notably the raised loading dock platforms complete with fodder troughs.


The han consists of a covered section used for lodging and a courtyard for service facilities located in front of it. The covered section is the same width as the courtyard. The han was built on an inclined terrain. Ruins of a bathhouse are located southeast of the han. 



The open courtyard is the same width as the covered section, but is three times as large in surface area. It consists of three closed rooms on the eastern (right) side and two open rooms on the southern (entrance) side and an open arcade on the west (left) side. The three closed rooms on the eastern side are lit by narrow slit windows in the ceiling of each one; the other spaces do not need any as they open onto the courtyard.


The main entrance crown door leading into the courtyard is more elaborate than the one of the covered section. The spandrels of the arches are empty. It has a pointed arch and projects forward from the main wall. A recessed area for an inscription plaque is located in the tympanum of the arch, but it is empty. The door opening is a flattened arch comprised of interlaced stones.


Southern (front) section: The crown door leads into an iwan-shaped vestibule. There are 3 closed rooms to the right (east) of the entrance, and 2 to the left (west), which served as service rooms. All are covered with pointed vaults. The latrines were grouped in the large corner space at the left (southwestern) corner.


Eastern section: There are 6 closed rooms on the right side of the courtyard (east side) lined up side by side. They are small (approx. 5 x 3 m) and have openings with plain lintels, over which are arched openings to provide light. There is a raised loading platform in front of the rooms. The two rooms at each end are different than the others, as their vaults are headed in the north-south direction. There are no interior connections between the rooms. Four of these rooms are square and are covered with pointed barrel vaults running east-west.


Mosque: The last room to the rear of this section, larger than the others and reached by 2 steps (80cm above ground level), has a mihrab niche in the center of the southern wall and served as the mosque. This room is larger than the others on this side (6.5 x 3.8m). It is entered via an opening with a flat lintel and jamb. The mosque is lit by a Bursa-style arch (side curves ending in a point) above the lintel.


Western section: An arcade, opening directly onto the courtyard, is located on the western side of the courtyard. It is comprised of seven bays, each covered with a pointed barrel vault and a double row of piers in the east-west direction. Each bay is covered with a pointed barrel vault and a double row of piers in the east-west direction. They have slightly raised platforms in carved stone which served as loading docks. Loading activities took place on parallel bands at two different levels. The lower band on the ground contained a series of stone basins for fodder and water; the upper band (1-1.6m high) was the platform that accommodated goods and people. Loading dock platforms are a frequent feature in hans. The platforms are flat on top, and it can be assumed that the highest part of the platform, always near the entrance, was built to the height of the pack animals of different sizes (donkeys and camels). About 20 hans still have these platforms in various states of preservation, and the Kargi Han offers one of the best examples. These platforms retain almost all their original features, and comprise the most interesting feature of this han. In addition to the row of fodder basins underneath the arches, the platform is further divided into two bands, a lower one next to the basins separated by a corridor from a higher one where people spread their goods and sleeping mats.


Covered section:

The covered section lies transversely to the terrain.


The U-shaped crown door of the covered section is situated in the center of the southern wall. The center of the arch is flattened, and contains a space designed to hold an inscription plaque.


The covered section is divided into two naves by a support system running east to west which rests on eight piers, connected to each other by pointed vaults. The southern nave is wider than the northern one. Slit windows, six on the northern wall and two each in the middle of the east and west walls, provide light to the interior. Lighting is also provided by two windows in the arch openings on either side of the crown door located on the southern side, which is rounded with a flat arch. The center of the arch is flat, and contains a place designed to hold an inscription plaque. There is a raised platform reached by a set of stone stairs situated in the first nave upon entering the covered section. From the platform, stairs extend to the east and west for the full length of the nave. There are four support towers on the western wall, one on the northern wall, and two on each side of the crown door. This section was used for stabling animals.


Slit windows provide lighting for the covered section. The southern windows are placed between the arch openings on both sides of the crown door. These windows are wider than the others. There are six windows in eight of the arch sections in the northern wall and two each in the middle of the east and west walls. Lighting also is assured by two slit windows in the arch openings on either side of the crown door.


There is a raised loading platform reached by stone stairs situated near the outermost sections of the piers in the first nave upon entering the covered section. However, the troughs attested in the 1930s have not survived and illicit digs of recent times have damaged the flooring as well. From the platform, stairs extend to the east and west to the section behind the entrance opening for the full length of the nave.



Five support towers are located on the north wall, in the middle of the western side and on both sides of the crown door of the covered section. Four are rectangular and the one in the corner is square.



A simple bathhouse structure, rectangular in shape, 6m wide x 10 long 5 meters, is located right in front of the han on the right (southeast) side of the façade. Although in ruins, one can distinguish the 3 sections: the furnace, caldarium and tepidarium. The furnace section is underground. This ruined bath was once one of the facilities of the han. The water tank and the underground furnace are located to the north of the caldarium hot room. Erdmann wrote about the ruins in the left corner of the entrance of the han, which he believed could have served as a latrine. The water source is the Kargi River which runs directly east of the han, and loops down around in front of it. The bath was built long after the han.



Large stones of different dimensions were used in the construction of the building, with pitch-faced stone most generally seen. Reuse spolia materials were also used for the doors of the rooms surrounding the courtyard. The han was built of pitch-faced stone blocks for the most part, with smooth-faced stone used on the crown doors and the frames of the windows. Some reuse spolia material can be seen on the doors of the rooms around the courtyard. Mason marks can be noted on several stones, especially those of the crown doors, but they may not be original to the construction.



The door is simple, with little decoration. As this was a remote han, little decoration would have been lavished on it. Mason marks can be noted on several stones, especially those of the crown doors, but they may not be original to the construction. There is a lack of ruined buildings in the vicinity, so there was no opportunity to use spolia material in this han.


Plaster remains can be noted on the entrance side of the building, with traces indicating that they were once painted. The interior walls are covered with white plaster, a feature not commonly found on the walls of other Seljuk Han.


The quibla wall of the mosque room is covered with a plaster covering that has been inscribed with images, symbols and and writing. This plaster and "scratchitti" are probably not original to the han, although the researcher Scott Redford believes that they date from the Seljuk era and denote the influence of the Turkmen tribes living in this region. The poem of Camlibel indicates that visitors inscribed the walls with various types of writing, and this is probably what occurred here, much as tourists everywhere carve their names into trees and leave written graffiti on walls. Redford believes that these various scratchings, such as deer figures, arrows, stick figures, diamonds with hooks (such as seen on kilims), stars, a ship, Star of David (known in Turkish as the Star of Suleiman, mührü Suleyman), arrows are totemic symbols of the ancient Turks. However, they are most certainly graffiti made by travelers over the years, or, by vandals, for it is not likely that a quibla wall of a mosque would have included such non-religious images. Other examples of such scratchitti marks are not known. In addition, these scratchings are crude and summary, which does not match the sophisticated level of artistry usually seen in Seljuk decorative art (metal work, stone carving, tiles and carpets.) This graffiti on plaster on the mihrab and qibla wall were thus most probably made long after the han fell out of use and was converted into a dervish lodge.


Total area: 2,500m2
Area of covered section: 517m2(15 x 49m)
Area of courtyard: 785m2 (11.50 x 45m)

Due to its isolated location in a protected National Park, this han is in a good state of preservation. A restoration project is currently underway to solidify the building. The covered section is structurally solid; however, some damage can be seen in the eastern section of the courtyard. Some of the feeding troughs inside the western arcade of the courtyard are in sound condition. The walls of the bath of the han are fairly solid, but the roof has suffered damage.


It stands all alone in serene and stunning countryside, nestled snug among the mountains and pine forests. The fast-running stream next to the han  - Erdmann called it a "babbling brook teeming with fish" -  lends great charm to the setting.


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Eravşar, Osman. Yollarin Taniklari (Witnesses of the Way), 2017, pp. 499-506.

Erdmann, Kurt. Das Anatolische Karavansaray des 13. Jahrhunderts, 1961, pp. 181-184, no. 57.

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Karpuz Anadolu Selçuklu Eserleri (2008) v.1, p. 165

 west wall, exterior


main facade, view from west


eastern section closed cells, view from courtyard

eastern section closed cells

door frame detail, eastern cells

 western section open cells, view from courtyard

western section open cells

western section, interior piers and vaults

western section, open arcades

western section, raised loading  platform on two levels

northern closed section, view from courtyard

southern cells, view from courtyard

view of bathhouse to east

Köprülü Canyon setting


Köprülü Canyon setting


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