The Seljuk Han of Anatolia

OBRUK HAN


DISTRICT
42 KONYA

the impressive facade with its distinctive "turret" portal

view from courtyard to rear section

steps leading to 2nd storey mosque over entryway

view from entry across courtyard to rear section

rear section central aisle lined with spolia columns


LOCATION
This han is located 74 km from Konya in the village of Obruk, off the main Konya-Aksaray road. Upon arriving at the town of Kizören, there is a turn off to the left towards the village of Obruk, which lies 4 km from the main road. The han sits on a cliff above a small, 30m deep crater lake, with vivid, turquoise blue water.

[map]

DATE
Erdmann estimates the han was built around 1245-50; Kuban dates it earlier, before 1230.


REIGN OF
Either Izzeddin Keykavus I (1211-20) (Kuban) or during the reign of Kılıçarslan IV (1249-1265) (Erdmann).


BUILDING TYPE

Covered open courtyard (COC)
Covered section is smaller than the courtyard
Covered section with a central aisle and with 2 aisles on each side
8 side vaults
 

DESCRIPTION
This han was an important stop on the Konya-Aksaray route, and is located between the Zazadin Han (1236) and the Aksaray Sultan Han (1229). The han lies parallel to the road, with the door facing southwest towards the route. Kuban believes that this was the only han on this road during the first half of the 13th century, and was one of the largest of the early period hans. The historian Aksaray mentions that the Pervane Muineddin Suleyman stayed in this han during the struggles between the Mongol Noyan and Rükneddin Kiliç Arslan IV. 

 

The han takes its name from the lake behind it.


The han shows a typical plan for the era: covered section to the rear of an open courtyard. This is a large han, with a vast courtyard leading to the rear section (19 x 29m).

 

The facade of the han is severe, with no decoration except for the three window openings of the mosque. There is no elaborate crown portal, or an inscription plaque over the door. This plain flat front and the "turrets" over the door are quite unusual, and impart a distinctive aesthetic personality to this han.


The entry has two storeys. The mosque lies to the right of the entry passageway to the courtyard on the upper storey, accessible by a set of stone steps. The mosque comprises a horizontal series of 4 cells and has a mihrab.

 

The courtyard has two different sets of 5 side aisles. The aisles to the southeast were covered cell-like rooms with windows, and were probably used for the storage of goods, while those to the northeast, with wider openings, were used for the stabling of animals (camels).

 

The covered section has a middle aisle some 5.5 m wide, with a central dome at the crossing of the sixth arcade. There are 8 covered cells on each side, 9 m deep and 3-4 meters wide, with the vaulting running perpendicular to the the side walls.

 

DECORATION

Many fine-quality spolia reuse stones from other buildings have been used in its construction. Most of these stone fragments, bearing Christian symbols and inscriptions in Greek, must have originated from a nearby Byzantine church or monastery. Their presence attests to the cosmopolitan population profile of Konya at that time. The historian and travel writer El-Herevi, writing around 1215, mentions a Byzantine settlement near Konya in the time of Izzeddin Kaykavus (1211-1220). An archaeological analysis of these stones would need to be researched to determine their origin and date.
The covered section main aisle is lined with an impressive procession of columns with flat entablatures.


Note: the patterned "tree of life" kilims of the region of Obruk are known world-wide.


DIMENSIONS
Total area (excluding the tower and protruding gatehouse) is 2,335m2.
Area of hall: 820m2
Area of courtyard: 1200 m2
 

STATE OF CONSERVATION, CURRENT USAGE
The roof of the covered section has collapsed, as well as that of the courtyard cells. The facade with its distinctive castle-like turrets is in excellent condition. This han has been undergoing a restoration since 2007 and can be visited.

 

Its remote location, solid craftsmanship, vast courtyard, extensive spolia stones, the high arches of the rear section evoking a medieval Norman abbey, as well as the milky turquoise waters of the crater lake to the rear make a visit of this han quite memorable.


BIBLIOGRAPHIC REFERENCES

Acun, pp. 345-357 (includes extensive bibliography in Turkish); 516.

Aqsarayi, p. 158.

Bektaş, pp. 94-97.
Erdmann, pp. 127-130, no. 34.

       Karpuz, Kuş, Dıvarcı and Şiek (2008), vol. 2, p. 83.

Kuban (2002), pp. 238-239.

Kuş Selçuklu, pp. 79-80.
Rice, p. 206

 

 

 

 

 

courtyard aisles, northwest

courtyard aisles, southeast

rear section aisles, southeast

rear section aisles, northwest

 

spolia

1999 Turkish stamp depicting the Obruk Han

 

Obruk Göl, the 30m deep tectonic lake to rear of han

 

 

Entry portal as seen from courtyard

 

 

overview of front

 

 

 

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