Sultan Han




The front  

According to the inscription plate above the entrance portal, the northeast-facing Han was built in 1229 by the Syrian architect Muhammad ibn Khalwan al-Dimashqi under Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad I. It is located above the entrance portal.
Another inscription plate above the hall portal reports that after a devastating fire in 1278 the Han was renovated and extended under the local governor Seraceddin Ahmed El Kerimeddin bin Hasa.
The Sultan Han is one of twelve caravanserais built by the Sultans of Rum between the then capital Konya and the second largest city Kayseri. It can be described as the most beautiful and impressive caravanserai in Turkey and occupies an important place in the documentation of Seljuk architecture. Thanks to its central location on the historic Silk Road and the Seljuk Caravan Route, it grew rapidly and is today the largest caravanserai in Asia Minor. For these hostels, which provided people and animals with everything they needed, merchants had to pay an annual tax.



The entrance portal




One enters it through a richly decorated portal in the northeast and arrives in a rectangular courtyard, in the middle of which stands a small mosque.




An earthquake in 1950 destroyed several parts of the building complex. The increasing number of Cappadocia tourists alone justified the subsequent reconstruction, which has been completed for years. But you can still see a lot of the damage, which was partly improperly repaired after the earthquake.
The entire area in front of the Han was fortified for the tourist buses. A visit to the interior of the caravanserai is definitely worthwhile.



The mosque in the inner courtyard


When you enter the Han, a freestanding building immediately catches your eye. In the middle of the inner courtyard, a small square mosque was built, as in the Sahipata Han or the Agzikara Han. The mosque stands also here on 4 square pillars, which are connected by pointed arches. The mosque can be reached via two narrow, external, pointed staircases on the south side. In the Seljuk architecture, the interior separate mosques were all set on such arch constructions. It is assumed that this was intended to create a quiet place for the worship of Allah, detached from the hustle and bustle on the ground.


The mosque in the inner courtyard

In the courtyard  

The structure of the inner courtyard corresponds to that of several Seljuk caravanserais of this epoch. While on one side of the inner courtyard there are open barrel vaults (here to the right of the entrance), the opposite side has closed cells, some of which were used for living rooms, but also as service rooms, such as the kitchen, washrooms, etc. The inner courtyard has a large, open ceiling.
In the north-eastern corner of the courtyard, a narrow staircase leads to the roof of the courtyard.

In the closed hall  

At the end of the courtyard, opposite the entrance portal, there is another portal, richly decorated with stone carvings, the entrance to the 42 x 29 metre covered part of the Han, the so-called winter hall.
During the cold months of the year, the animals and their companions were stored here. During the warmer months, people slept on the roof, which they could reach by stairs along the courtyard wall. What immediately impresses the visitor is the height of the pointed barrel vault, which is more reminiscent of the nave of a cathedral than of a caravanserai. The 15 metre high roof vault is supported by 32 columns that divide the room into several naves. Also impressive is the octagonal dome measuring 6 metres in diameter, supported by six arched arches on the outside.
Today, from the point of view of the winter cold, the question arises what sense did the decision to create such a high vault make at that time?


On 16 February 2017 the DAILY SABAH reported in its English edition: "Anatolia's biggest caravanserai to be restored". The restoration work began in March 2017 and will last 3 years. The main focus of the renovation work is the drainage of rainwater, which had already caused considerable damage to the building structure in recent years. A further focus of the renovations is the restoration of the mosque, which was repaired with bricks during the first renovation in 1950/1951. In the Seljuk culture there were no bricks.

In September 2018 the front of the Han was covered with dark nets, access was forbidden.


Floor plan of the caravanserai Sultan Han

according to Erdmann

1  Entrance portal   4  open cells
2  Courtyard   5  closede cells
Mosque   6  closed hall
Photos: @chim    
Translation aid:    
Source: Wikipedia and others