The Seljuk Han of Anatolia

DURAGAN HAN


One of the rare hans with an off-axis entry to the covered section, the Durağan Han formerly had a bath and a mosque connected with it and has unusual pointed arches in the courtyard and brick courses in the exterior walls. 

 

Karpuz, Anadolu Selçuklu Eserleri (2008) v.2, p. 302

Eravşar, 2017. p. 351; photo I. Dıvarcı

Eravşar, 2017. p. 350; photo I. Dıvarcı

Eravşar, 2017. p. 352; photo I. Dıvarcı

Portal leading to the covered section

Eravşar, 2017. p. 348; photo I. Dıvarcı

Eravşar, 2017. p. 348; photo I. Dıvarcı

Eravşar, 2017. p. 349; photo I. Dıvarcı

 

DISTRICT
57 SINOP


LOCATION

The Durağan Han is located on the Kastamonu-Samsun-Amasya road, 55 km south of Sinop and 30 km east of Boyabat on the Vezirköprü Road, at the spot where the Gök Irmak and the Kızılirmak Rivers meet in the village of Durağan. It is located in the northeastern part of town.

 

The modern road passes to the north of the building opposite the entrance of the han. The old caravan road, which used to pass in front of the han, now serves as a connector road to the modern road which passes through the Kizilirmak River valley. The former caravan route, used for centuries, crossed a valley to the east which is now flooded by dam waters. The road continues on to Amasya after passing through the Vezirköprü River basin. A branch of the road heading to the west goes to Kastamonu via Boyabat.

 


NAMES
Durak Han

Boyabat-Vezirköprü Han

Pervane Süleyman Han

 

The han is mentioned in the journals of several Western travelers, notably Division, Cuinet, and Van Lennep.


DATE
1266


REIGN OF

Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev III (dated by inscription)

 

INSCRIPTION
The inscription plaque of the han was seen by various travelers to the region, notably by Hamilton, in the middle of 19th century. It was subsequently removed and placed on the wall of the exterior narthex (son cemaat yeri) of the Ismail Bey Mosque. This mosque, located southwest of the han, was built at the end of the 19th century. During the renovation project of the han undertaken in 1992, the inscription was returned to its place over the crown door of the courtyard.

 

The inscription is quite complete and indicates the name of the sultan, patron and architect. It states that this han was built in the time of Keyhüsrev by the Pervane Muineddin Süleyman bin Ali in 664 (1266 AD). It also indicates the name of the architect, Gevherbaş bin Abdullah. This architect worked with the architect Said El Kayseri, who was the architect of the Kastamonu Yilanlı Hospital, dated 1272.

 

The inscription, 150 x 150 cm, is written in Seljuk-style naskh calligraphy, and reads as follows:

 

The caravanserai is built by the sacred will of the Sultan

Strong and magnificent leader of the faith and father of conquests Keyhüsrev

Sultan of Sultans, powerful ruler, succor of Islam and all Muslims

By the humble and lowly servant of the Great Pervane Süleyman bin Ali, may Allah praise his power, Güherbaş bin Abdullah, in the year 664, in the month of Zilhicce.

 

PATRON

According to the inscription, the han was built by the Vizier Mu’in al-Din Suleyman bin Ali during the reign of the Anatolian Seljuk Sultan Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev III in the year 1266 (Hijri 664). At this time, Pervane was the virtual ruler of this part of the Sultanate of Rum (see "History" section).

 

BUILDING TYPE

Covered section and an open courtyard (COC)
Covered section smaller than the courtyard
Covered section with 3 naves (a central aisle and 1 aisle on each side running perpendicular to the back wall

5 lines of support cross vaults parallel to the rear wall


DESCRIPTION

The Durağan Han displays the typical design layout of Seljuk hans, comprising a covered section used for lodging with a courtyard for service areas located in front of it. 

 

covered section:

The entrance door to the covered section is located in the middle of the southern wall. The façade of this side is laid with finely-cut horizontal bricks, laid in five courses between a bed of mortar. Reuse spolia stones were also used.

 

The covered section comprises three naves covered by pointed vaults placed perpendicularly to the wall opposite the entrance. The middle nave is higher and wider than the lateral naves. Vaults are positioned over two support walls, and each of these support walls comprised four square stone piers. No trace of these piers remains today, as they have been replaced by the facades of the shops currently installed in the han.

 

There is a window opposite the entrance, but there were most certainly other slit windows for the space.

 

The entrance door to the han is located in the middle of the southern wall and was completely rebuilt during the last renovation project. The walls are made of pitch-faced stone and brick. The facade of the southern wall is laid with finely-cut bricks, laid in five courses between a bed of filler. These brick courses add a distinctive feature to the han.

 

Two round support towers are located at the corners of the southern exterior wall, and a square tower is set in the middle of the eastern and western walls.

 

It is not possible to determine the original construction techniques used in the covered section, now covered by a metal roof, as it was completely demolished before the renovation. The springing of the vaults and the belt courses can still be distinguished, which suggests that the covered section was originally covered by a pointed barrel vault in each of the three naves, running parallel to each other in a north-south orientation.

 

courtyard:

The courtyard is wider than the covered section and is placed perpendicularly to it, which is not the typical layout.
Another atypical feature is the disposition of the entry: as seen in the Kesikköprü, Zazadin and Ağzikara Hans, the entrance door to the courtyard and the entrance door to the covered section are not on axis, as is generally the case for open courtyard and covered section plan hans. The orientation of the courtyard (east) and the hall (south) is not the same, and was not apparently due to the site requirements.

 

The western side of the courtyard comprises two sections, and they are significantly different. The southern section is 5.35 m high while the northern section is 5.07 m high.

The mosque for the han was believed to have been located in a room in the doorway passage to the right of the courtyard.

 

 DECORATION

There is no decoration in the han, other than the brickwork courses on the exterior wall. The brick courses, which add a distinctive feature to the han, are laid at the same level in the exterior side walls.

 

The courtyard arches have pointed arches in the Persian style, an atypical Anatolian shape. It is possible that Pervane may have commissioned a Persian architect to build this han like he did for his mosque at Sinop (built in 1256).


DIMENSIONS
Total external area: 1435 m2. The han is quite large.
Area of hall: 330m2
Area of courtyard: 925m2

 

STATE OF CONSERVATION, CURRENT USAGE
This han was in used until the 1920s, at which time transportation patterns changed (trucks began to replace horse carts) and it was no longer necessary to stopover here. Parts of the han were demolished at this time, and the photos taken by Erdmann in 1951 and 1954 show that the han was deserted.

 

The han was registered in 1982 as property of the Municipality of the city of Durağan, who retains all rights to its use. The han now serves as a municipal garage and storage area.

 

Restoration of this han began in 1992 and was completed in 2007. The entrance portal to the covered section and most of the covered section were entirely rebuilt at this time. The original structure was substantially altered during the renovation project and has lost many of its original features. The covered section is now covered by a metal roof.

 

A bath was formerly located to the north of the han, but was demolished in 1992 and is now being used as a public park. The mosque located near the han is believed to have been once connected with it, and has been completely restored using its original materials.

 

In 2014, the Samsun Regional Directorate of Foundations voted to invest in the building in order to reverse the faults of the 1992 renovation project.


BIBLIOGRAPHIC REFERENCES

Acun, H. Anadolu Selçuklu Dönemi Kervansarayları. Ankara: Kültür Bakanlığı Publications, 2007, p. 492.

Altun, Ara. An Outline of Turkish Architecture in the Middle Ages, 1990, p. 200.

Cuinet, V. La Turquie d'Asie, v. I, 1894.

Division, G.B. A Handbook of Asia Minor. London, 1919.

Eravşar, Osman. Yollarin Taniklari (Witnesses of the Way), 2017, p. 346-352.

Erdmann, Kurt. Das Anatolische Karavansaray des 13. Jahrhunderts, 1961, pp. 72-74, no. 20 (plan, photos).

Karpuz, Haşim. & Kuş, A. & Dıvarcı, I. & Şimşek, F. Anadolu Selçuklu Eserleri, 2008, vol. 2, p. 302.

Kiepert, R. Karte von Kleinasien, in 24 Blatt bearbeitet, 1902-1916.

Peacock, A.C.S. “Sinop: A Frontier City in Seljuq and Mongol Anatolia”. Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia. 16, 2010, pp. 103-537.

Rice, Tamara Talbot. The Seljuks in Asia Minor, 1961, p. 206.

Van Lennep, H. J. Travels in Little-known Parts of Asia Minor. With Illustrations of Biblical Literature and Researches in Archaeology: Vol. 1. London, 1870, chapter III, p. 61, map 1.


 

 

 

photos below before the competion of the restoration project in 2007

Inscription plaque (kitabesi) over main portal

 

Cells in main courtyard

 

 

 

 

 

 

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