The Seljuk Han of Anatolia

 AK HAN


photo courtesy of Ahmet Kuş

Main entrance

View into courtyard from main entry

Chevron decor on main portal

Steps in courtyard leading to upper storey mosque

Iwan in courtyard

Arcades in covered section

DISTRICT
20 DENIZLI

 

LOCATION
This han is located in the Mederes Valley, 7 km northeast of Denizli, near the village of
Goncalı. It is situated near the bridge which passes over the Çuruksu River on the Denizli-Afyon Road (route 330). Nearby are the ruins of Laodıkya (ancient Denizli) and springs of Pamukkale.

[map]

 

OTHER NAMES
Goncali Han, Ak Bozhan

DATE
1253/4
Dated by two inscriptions: one of 6 lines in the hall and one of 5 lines in the courtyard.

 

REIGN OF

Izzeddin Keykavus II

PATRON
This han was built as a charitable institution funded by Governor Şeyfettin Karasungur ibn Abdullah, Emir of Ladik. He was the governor of Denizli for over 20 years, and was the brother of the Vizier Celaleddin Karatay (see Karatay Han).

 

BUILDING TYPE

Covered open courtyard (COC)
Covered section smaller than the courtyard
Covered section with a central aisle perpendicular to the rear wall and 1 aisle on each side

4 bays of vaults

DESCRIPTION

The sign panel outside the han states that “This is one of the latest Seljuk hans [in] western Anatolia. According to its two inscriptions, the covered part of the han was finished in 1251 (651), and the court in 1252 (652)."
 

The han faces northwest, and is on the old Aksaray-Konya trade route.
 

There are two inscription plaques giving construction details. One in 6 lines states that it was built in the reign of Izzeddin ibn Kaykhosrow by Kara Sungur ibn Abdullah. The courtyard inscription plaque of 5 lines repeats the names of the sultan and of the patron.
This medium-sized han has two storeys.

Sometime in the 13th century, a mosque was built in the left corner of the courtyard. It is raised up one storey reached by a set of steps, and has an inscription and an external door. It is a square room, covered with a dome. There is also a group of 3 rooms to the right of the courtyard which probably served as baths.

 

DECORATION

This has has come to be known as the "White Han" due to the beautiful white stone used on the front entry door and in the mosque. The main portal is magnificent with its geometric relief decorations and its sparkling white brilliance. The most important characteristic of the portal, which can compete in refinement with that of the Karatay Han, is its band of fretwork and chevrons of exquisite workmanship.
Other stoneword decorative elements in the han include arabesques, animals (dogs, bulls, rabbits, lions and other quadrupeds), birds, braids, shells and meanders.

DIMENSIONS
The total area of the han is 1100m2
Hall area: 270m2
Courtyard area: 625m2

STATE OF CONSERVATION, CURRENT USAGE
The han is in fairly good shape, with the portal and the tower of the left side of the inner courtyard still standing. It sits a bit hidden among the surrounding industrial buildings, but can be visited, and there are plans to convert it into a tourism business. Its restoration project is ongoing.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHIC REFERENCES

Acun, p. 286-303 (includes extensive bibliography in Turkish); 452; 477.

Altun, p. 200.

Bayrak, p. 175.
Bektaş, pp. 146-148.
Erdmann, pp. 67-72, no. 19.
Karpuz, Kuş, Dıvarcı and Şiek (2008), vol. 1, pp. 238-239.

Rice, p. 205.
 



 

 

 

For photos of the han taken ın 1963 by John Ingham, click below:

 

Exterior overview

Portal detail

Portal left, detail

Portal right, detail of animal figure

 

 

 

 



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