The Seljuk Han of Anatolia


View of the han from the west

Main portal showing stalactite vault

View from roof onto covered section portal

Steps inside of main portal, leading to second storey mosque. To the right is the fountain iwan

(photo courtesy of Serdar Ceylan)

(photo courtesy of Serdar Ceylan)

Mevlana Dervish performance inside of han courtyard


This han is located on the Aksaray-Tomarza-Kayseri Road. It stands 5 km southeast of Avanos and 6 km north of Ürgüp in the Damsa Valley. It is on the left bank of the Kizilirmak River (Damsa brook).


Avanos Han

Saru Han

The name of the han means "Yellow Han", and comes from the distinctive color of the building material.

Not known, but thought to be around the year 1249


İzzeddin Keykavus II (1249-1254)

İzzeddin Keykavus II


Covered with open courtyard (COC)
Covered section is smaller than the courtyard
Covered section with a middle aisle and 2 aisles on each side
5 bays of vaults

Coming upon this han from afar is an unforgettable experience: its stunning profile dramatically rises from the floor of the fawn plane like the Cathedral of Chartres. It lies in a peaceful and majestic setting.


This is one of the finest hans of the Seljuk period in Turkey. The magnificent story of the Seljuk han finds its coda in this han, as it is the last han to be built by the Seljuks. Its magnificent architecture is testament to this long tradition of distinctive buildings. It has an elaborate bath and a mosque over the entry.


The han, with its portal facing towards Kayseri, is similar in plan and in elements to the Kayseri and Aksaray Sultan Hans. It adheres to the classical plan, but with one variant: here, the mosque is placed over the gateway and not in the courtyard.

The mosque is on the upper floor of the entry passageway, and is reached by steps leading up to a tiny balcony. It has a small dome decorated with stalactites (muqarnas) and a mihrab with a 5-sided niche. Another set of steps leads up to the muezzin's pedestal. The doorway to the mosque is decorated with squinches and stalactites.
There is also a bath over the gatehouse, located at the right corner of the courtyard (like the Sultan Han at Kayseri and the Karatay Han).

The courtyard door has a pointed arch that most certainly held an inscription plaque. The inscription over the hall door has been lost.

There are 6 corner towers and 6 side towers.


To the southeast of the large courtyard is a iwan/portico with a fountain, and to the northeast are places for accommodation and bathing.

There is a plain oculus in the center of the covered section. The covered section has 5 naves.


The inside and outside portal arches which were made from two different colored bands of stones in yellow, pink and beige, which confer a lively appearance to the main outer portal and inner portal.
The decorative elements of the portal include shells, Syrian knots, saw-teeth, meanders and rope designs.

Total external area: 2000m2

Area of hall: 570m2
Area of courtyard: 1120m2

This is one of the finest existing examples. It now serves as a cultural center for evening performances (The Saruhan Exhibition and Culture Center (see website below) and Mevlana sema dance performances). The restoration of the han, parts of which were in ruins, was started in the late 1980's and was completed in 1991. A new stone floor was installed in 1990.


Acun, pp. 210-235 (includes extensive bibliography in Turkish); 454; 522.

Altun, p. 198.
Bektaş, pp. 110-113.
Erdmann, pp. 130-135, no. 35.
Gülyaz, Murat Ertuğrul. "The Kervansarays of Cappadocia", Skylife Magazine, December, 1999
Rice, p. 206.

Karpuz, Kuş, Dıvarcı and Şiek (2008), vol. 2, p. 227.

Parlak Bicer, Z. Ozlem and Fusun Kocaturk. "An Examination of the use of the Caravanserai at Cappadocia on the Silk Road; Saruhan Caravanserai". Proceedings of the Archi-Cultural Translations through the Silk Road, 2nd International Conference, Mukogawa Women's University, Nishinomiya, Japan, July 14-16, 2012, p. 390-392.

Saruhan. Internet web document. Contains many photos of the han and its current activities.

Unsal, p. 49.



























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