The Seljuk Han of Anatolia
exterior view, facing south
southern arcades, view from courtyard
western arcades, view from courtyard
This han is located on the Antalya-Isparta Road, 18 km northwest of Antalya. It is set at the foot of the Termessos Mountains, and is built upon the remains of the ancient city of Nekropol. It is the southernmost of the chain of hans leading north from Antalya.
[driving instructions]. [map]
As reported by Riefstahl, there was apparently an inscription plaque of 3 lines, which was located in the school of the nearby Yeşilbayirköy village. It states that the han was built by Izzeddin Keykavus I, son of Kaykosrau in the year…[blank]. The inscription plaque has now been lost.
Sultan Izzeddin Keykavus I (reign: 1210-19 ; lived from 1134-1220)
Izzedin Keykavus I
Open courtyard, no covered section (OC)
The rooms are distributed around a central courtyard, known as the "open" plan. There are no closed cells. The courtyard is the basis of the design.
This is a spectacular han to visit.
The han, built of fine cut stone, is part of the group of hans connecting the city of Antalya, captured by the Seljuks in 1207, to the capital of Konya. The next han north is
the Kirkgöz han.
The pointed arch of the entry portal faces south towards the mountains. There are 2 closed rooms on each side of the entryway passage, probably for service needs.
The courtyard of this han is of impressive dimensions. Due to the size of its court, it is tempting to consider it as a sultan han, which would make it the second oldest one in existence. The courtyard is surrounded by open arcades on all four sides. There is symmetry on both axes of the han, with an iwan in the middle of each side.
Owing to the warmer climate of the Antalya region, changes were made in the original han plan, with a more extensive open area for the courtyard. This large courtyard is surrounded by a double cloister-like arcade, with little enclosed space for shelter. There are observation holes in the slightly pointed arches where the animals were tied and cargo unloaded. There are 14 cells each on the eastern and western sections, and 11 cells each on the northern and southern sections. They have very slightly pointed arch vaults running toward the center of the courtyard, supported by arcades, which in their turn consist of two pointed arches. The eighth arcades of the western and eastern sides are wider than the others and form a sort of transversal axis to the plan.
The han had a latrine in the abutment located in the southeastern arcade.
The mosque could have been located in the eastern iwan on the long side of the courtyard, in the larger 8th arcade, although no traces of a mihrab can be found anywhere in the arcaded cells. No bath has been noted, although a small stream runs to the west of the han. There are some rubble ruins there which could have been a cistern, as was reported by Riefstahl.
The portal of white limestone is extremely ornate and imposing, and is one of the most impressive examples after those of the Sultan Hans. It contains a magnificent pointed arch, the upper cornice of which (along with the inscription plaque it contained) is now destroyed.
The decorative program of the gateway portal is elaborate. Starting at the walls working inwards, it contains 4 distinct elements joined together. First there is an outer band of clean-hewn stones, linked to a curved molding by a crisp strip of dogtooth ornament. It is completed by majestic broad side panels with stunning fretwork of interlaced stars bordered by running triangles. On the interior side faces of the entry porch, another fine decorative program assembles a series of 5 sculptural elements: a pair of stalactite arches, a row of scallops, a curved molding with lappets, a fretwork frieze of ropelike interlaced elements, finally crowned by 3 half palmettes. The stalactite half-dome over the door is comprised of the same palmette (or perhaps fluted shell) pattern found on the sides, and is framed by a curved band of fretwork stars forming a pointed arch.
This is a major decorative program for a portal, which would give weight to the hypothesis that is indeed a Sultan han. This han wears this magnificent portal like a crown.
The walls of the han are built in well-cut stone, some of which bear stonecutters' marks.
Dimensions of courtyard: 45.30 X 78.80m
Total area: 3,800m2, which makes it the third largest of all Seljuk hans. Its utilitarian nature is very evident, as the rectangular courtyard is so large it almost resembles a military campground.
STATE OF CONSERVATION, CURRENT USAGE
Today it stands empty, and in a fairly ruined state. The eastern and and southern walls are half-standing, half of the western section is missing, and the northern section is completely destroyed. Despite its ruined state, the plan and structure are very easy to determine. The view of the Termessos mountains through the entry door is breathtaking. Its size, remote location and imposingly elegant door all join to make this an unforgettable han to visit.
Acun, p. 418-433 (includes extensive bibliography in Turkish); 456; 498
Altun, p. 198
Bektaş, p. 69-71
Erdmann, p. 175-178, no 55
Ertuğ, p. 78
Hillenbrand, fig. 6.51, p. 553
Karpuz, Kuş, Dıvarcı and Şimşek (2008), vol. 1, p. 130.
Kuban (2002), p. 240
Riefstahl, p. 62-64; ill. 114-116.
Rice, p. 206
Unsal, p. 48
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