The Seljuk Han of Anatolia


detail of column at entry

Main portal arch with inscription plaque (kitabesi)


View from courtyard looking back to main entry

View from main entry looking into immense courtyard and the small entry door to the covered section




The Kirkgz Han is located 24 km northwest of Antalya on the Burdur Road. Take the turnoff for the village of Yeniky, which is approximately 10km from the main highway. The han is approximately 10km past the village, to the left of a brick factory. The han is 300m to the right of the ubuk Gorge, in a scenic setting of stunning beauty. It is the first han north of Antalya on the Antalya-Burdur Road (followed by Evdir, Incir and Susuz). The told caravan road passed directly to the east of the han, and then continued north towards Burdur.



The han took its name from the nearby water sources, called the Kirkgz ("Forty Springs") by the locals. Kiepert marked the han on his map as "Kirk Han".

Dating is according to the inscription of 6 lines carved on a single block of limestone set above the southern entrance door. This inscription is the longest building inscription of any surviving Seljuk han. Although the date included on the last section inscription is fragmentary (it cuts off the date; listing only the beginning of the date ("thirteenth") without giving the month and year), it provides both the name of the sultan Giyaseddin Keyhsrev.



Giyaseddin Keyhsrev II


The inscription plaque of this han has attracted much attention due to its length and content. It provides significant information and insight into the reign of Giyaseddin Keyhsrev II, notably in three points. It assigns a function to the building, which is rare in Islamic architecture. Secondly it imparts additional information about Seljuk regalia, the signs of royalty the sultan wore when he traveled. Lastly, it provides information about a little-known member of the Seljuk dynasty, Ismat al-Dunya wa'l-Din, the first cousin and third wife of Giyaseddin's father, Alaeddin Keykubad.


The inscription is complete, and is only slightly eroded in the middle section. There are even traces of the original red paint which covered the letters, which are written in a rather careless calligraphy. This inscription has been the subject of several interpretations and discussion. The historian Scott Redford proposes the transcription of the text as follows:


1) The construction of this commissioned, endowed, secure ribat was ordered for all.

2) peoples residing in it, and travelers from it towards the east of the world and its west, in the days

3) of the state of the most great sultan, God's shadow on earth, sultan of the sultans of the horizons, possessor of the crown and the banner [and]

4) the belt, Ghiyath al-Dunya wa'l-Din, father of victory, Kaykhusraw, son of Kayqubadh, may God extend to eternity his sultanate, [by] the exalted lady,

5) queen of the climes of the world, Ismat al-Dunya wa'l-Din, pearl of the crown of nations, may God make profuse His favor in good things

6) on her property, and accept from her what he built her [sic], and extend to her in both realms (this world and the next) what will make her whole, in the year 13.


His reading of this inscription furnishes rich and distinctive details about both the han and its patron. The second line of the inscription bears the only known definite attribution of the functions of the building as a caravansarai, or resting place for travelers. Line 3 is again unusual as it indicates the only known mention of the regalia of the sultan, to wit: crown, banner and belt. Yet it is line 4 and 5 that are the most intriguing, for they mention an "exalted lady", the Ismat al-Dnnya wa'l-Din. She is known by one other inscription, dating to the reign of her husband, Alaeddin Keykubad I, from the arsi Camii in Uluborlu. This inscription dates from 1232, and describes her as a "malika", or queen. This woman was the wife of Alaeddin, who may have married her after he took Erzurum from her brother Rukh al-Din Jahanshah, in 1230. Her father, Mughith al-Din Tughrulshah, was Alaeddin's uncle, making the couple direct first cousins. She is not the mother of the Sultan Giyaseddin Keyhsrev, yet she appears to have been allied in some way with him, but the exact nature of the relationship is unclear. Due to the similarity of this inscription with the fragmentary inscription of the ruined Derebucak Han, it is believed that this woman was the patron of both hans. 


Other scholars (Yursasver and Uysal) translate this inscription differently. They find no mention of this Exalted Lady, and state that the inscription mentions only Sultan Giyaseddin Keyhsrev:

1) The building of this ribat, the poor....wretched traveler

2) Tired compatriot, guest with an inner peace, peaceful with your possessions, no matter how many times having lost in trade, generous...

3) His magnificent, great Sultan...Unique to Allah, who knows everything, owns everything, everything is particular to him.

4) The son of Keyhsrev and Keykubad, great, magnificent sultan, the main pillar of the faith and the world, Giyaseddin

5) The owner of all, knows all, magnificent...

6) Acceptance is a manner of the state...Goods and morality has he, if he is faithful, blessings to Giyaseddin, thirteen....


This reading of the inscription firmly places the patron as the Anatolian Seljuk Sultan Giyaseddin Keyhsrev II. Although the building date is listed in the inscription, the last numbers of the date cannot be read. The numerals are either 1 and 3 or 13; however, it is not certain. This han was most probably built at the same time as the Eğirdir, Incir and Susuz Hans, for this caravan route was of capital importance for Giyaseddin Keyhsrev II.


Giyaseddin Keyhsrev II or perhaps Ismat al-Dunya wa'l-Din, the first cousin and wife of Giyaseddin's father, Alaeddin Keykubad.


Open courtyard (OC)

The han faces the direction of Antalya. This is the third han perhaps built by Giyaseddin, but this one differs from the classical open arcade scheme of the others.


The han has two main sections which provide shelter both in summer and winter. The facilities areas are located in the southern section of the han.


The han is similar in plan to its nearby cousin, the earlier Evdir Han, with its arcaded courtyard of open cells. However, in this han, a covered horizontal section is added to the rear of the courtyard. This substantial section dominates the entire plan. It is also similar to the plan of the Kargi han, with the mosque to the right rear of the courtyard.


To the rear (northern side) of the courtyard is one long, vaulted aisle (11 x 60m), divided into seven sections by six flat ribs. It is higher in elevation than the eastern and western arcades. This covered section is entered by a very small door and is lit by very narrow slit windows and lantern holes. It resembles the Şarafsa Han in appearance. The covered section was covered with a single barrel vault in the east-west direction. It was lit by slit windows in the east and west walls. In addition, there are openings for light in the middle of the arches of the vaults. Several sections of the loading platforms can still be seen at the entrance to the covered section. There is no inscription plaque above the door to the covered section.


The vast central courtyard (33 x 52 m) is almost three times larger than the covered section. It is surrounded on the eastern and western sides by an arcade of 6 open cells on each side. Each arcade ends with a large, closed room, the same depth as the the arcades but covered with a barrel vault of wider and higher span. The covered room on the right rear of the courtyard may have served as the mosque (as in the Kargi Han). There are no window slits on the outer faces of the arcades.


The facade of the han (southern side) is bare, with square towers on the corners and between the corners and the entry (4 in total). There is an iwan past the entrance door. On each side of the iwan is a rectangular room with a flattened arch over its entrance and covered with a barrel vault. A water canal was found during the excavations in the eastern room. The crown door leading into the courtyard is more richly decorated than that of the covered section. It included a flattened arch with interconnected voussoir stones, and columns on each side. A marble inscription plaque is located in the tympanum of the crown door, set in a rectangular frame.


On the southern side are 4 covered rooms, which probably served as rooms for the guards. They are entered by small doors, covered by roughly-constructed, slightly pointed arches.


No bath has been noted.


Smooth-faced stones were used in the crown doors, arches, slit windows and towers. Reuse spolia material has been placed at the top of the entrance door of the courtyard. Some of these stones, include inscriptions in Latin. Mason marks can be seen on stones on various parts of the building.



The han has sparse decoration. There is no decoration on the cut stone walls, which show an impressive quality of workmanship. Many of the stones bear stonecutters' marks. The stones of the portal are of finer quality and are better hewn than the walls. There is no carved decoration on the entrance portal, in contrast to the Incir, Evdir and Susuz Hans, which have magnificent crown portals. In addition, the building inscription is not carved on the customary marble, but on limestone.


The crown door of the covered section comprises a deeply recessed niche framed by a short, pointed-arch surrounded by a double molding. Completing the scheme are two engaged columns with simple cubic capitals and vases which carry the ornamental arch. There is a stone seat in the niche, but no lateral recessed areas for guards.


Despite the simplicity of its decoration, this is a dignified and impressive han. It is larger, but more simply built, than the Incir, Evdir and Susuz hans which  have  crown portals. This han resembles more the other southern hans attributed to Giyaseddin, the Sarapsa and Kargi hans, which also lack an elaborate decorative program. These hans may have been built after the Babai revolt of 1241 and the defeat of the Battle of Kse Dağ in 1243, when the Sultan Giyaseddin Keyhsrev faced challenging events which placed his reign in disarray. After 1243, it would appear that the Sultan spent much time in the area beyond the Taurus mountains, most certainly seeking refuge from the Mongols in this part of the realm farthest from them.

3,000 m2
Much like the courtyard of the Evdir Han, the size of the courtyard of the Kirkgoz Han is vast (33 x 52m) and gives the impression of a military campground.


The han is in good condition, and the portal is intact. It was used to shelter animals for many years. It was completely restored in 2007. Excavations were carried out in the courtyard during the restoration, at which time a sunken bread oven (tandir) was found. The roof of the covered section has been clad with reinforced concrete, and, as such, the original elements have disappeared. The han is now used for special meeting and tourism events.


Altun, p. 199.
Aslanapa, p. 174.

Bayrak, p. 78 .
Bektaş, pp. 66-68.
Erdmann, p. 179-181, no. 56.

Karpuz, Kuş, Dıvarcı and Şiek (2008), vol. 1, p. 131.

Kiepert, 1906-16.

Kuban (2002), p. 241.
Redford, Scott. "The Inscription of the Kirkgz Han and the problem of textural transmission in Seljuk Anatolia", Adalya 12 (2009), pp. 351-2.

Rice, p. 206.
Unsal, p. 48.

Uysal, A.O., 1993, p. 77.

Yurdsever, 2011, p. 34.





Arcade of 6 open cells on eastern side of courtyard

western arcades

western arcades


closed rooms on each side of entryway; view from courtyard looking south

small door for entry to southern side closed rooms

entry portal with view onto entry of northern hall across the courtyard







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