The Seljuk Han of Anatolia


(all photos on this sidebar are from 1994)

Side exterior wall

Portal leading to covered section, now collapsed

View from courtyard looking toward main entry

exterior fountain

marble lintel decoration

covered section portal



This han is located on the Tokat-Turhal-Zile Road which crosses the picturesque Kaza Valley, about 1 km east (towards Tokat) from the village of Pazar. There is a Seljuk bridge over the Yeşilırmak River about .5 km to the northeast on the same road.

Mahperi Hatun Han or the Hatun Han.
Hatun Han means "The Lady’s han", in honor of its patron.


Two inscriptions, one over the main portal and one over the entry to the covered hall, provide the patron's name, her affiliation to her son and his lineage, and provide a commissioning date of 636 (1238-39). It is not known when the construction was completed, but probably no later than 1242.


The partly-broken inscription over the main portal reads as follows: "Mahperi Hatun, sovereign of the wives to kings, commissioned the construction of this han in 636 with the undertaking of Keyhüsrev bin-i Keykubat Mükerrem, the Great Sultan, the Eminent Sovereign, the shadow of Allah on earth, and the Savior of religion in this world."

The inscription of 4 lines over the hall door is complete and reads: “Has ordered the construction of this han, may Allah bless it, under the reign of the great Sultan and glorious Khan, Shadow of Allah in this world, Giyat Khosrow, son of the fortunate Kaykubad, the prince of the believers, the good queen Safat al-dunya wal-din, mother of the Sultan of Sultans, Mahperi Hatun, in the year 636."


The inscription over the main door is missing the top 2 lines, but as the bottom 2 lines read identically to the other inscription over the courtyard door, we can assume that they contained the same information.



Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev II


Huand Hatun was one of the wives of Alaeddin Keykubad I and the mother of Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev II. She built a program of some 7 hans linking Sivas to Tokat, Amasya and Kayseri, in addition to her Huand Hatun Medrese Complex in Kayseri. This han was built one year after her mosque in Kayseri.


Covered section with an open courtyard (COC)
Covered section smaller than courtyard
Covered section with middle aisle and 1 aisle on each side
6 bays of vaults

This is one of the finest examples ever built, distinguished by the quality of its construction and decorative elements.


The han faces southwest.
It was built in the same year as the Incir Han. It appears to be a simplified version of the sultan han plan.

It is a robust and careful construction, comprised by layers of finely-cut limestone of excellent craftsmanship. The stones are 40-60 cm high. Some of the stones bear stonemason marks.

Exterior and portal:
The monumental main portal, the only entrance to the han, is surmounted by an ogival arch. There are two tower-like structures at each side corner of the facade.
A noteworthy architectural feature of this han is the presence of an external fountain set into a niche on the front wall to the left of the portal. One of the original spouts from this fountain is now preserved in the Tokat Museum.
On either side of the entryway passage are two rooms and a small iwan, under which remains the traces of a staircase, which probably was used by sentries to reach the roof for their guard duties.


The rectangular courtyard has two symmetrical porticos on each side, with 6 bays each covered by broken barrel vaults supported by square pillars, and joined to each other and to the wall by broken arches. Each of these pillars bears carved holes through the corner edges at approx 5" high, used to tether animals. In view of the height, the animals tethered were probably camels.
The room to the northeast (to the left upon entering) was obviously the most important room in the han, due to the amount of decoration found there. The entry threshold is comprised of 3 blocks of marble, raised above the ground level of the han, obviously meant to keep out animals (functioning as a sort of haha wall). Inside the room, there is a delicate lintel strip of white marble spolia, with a carved chain of lotus blossoms. Although no trace of a mihrab exists here, one would be tempted to consider this room to be either the mosque of the treasury.

At the end of the courtyard in the axis of the main door is a door leading to the vast covered hall. All the vaults of this hall have collapsed (rebuilt during 2006-7 renovation). Traces of the springing of the vaults remain however, which allow a reconstitution of the plan, which consisted of a long main barrel vault, with 6 perpendicular barrel vaults on the sides.
There does not appear to have been a lantern dome as in the other larger hans of this type (Sultan Hans of Aksaray and Kayseri, Karatay). There are small slit windows in the external walls in the axis of each of the lateral vaults.


The most important decoration of this han is centered on the main entry door. It contains lateral niches and a frame of arabesques. The decoration on the portal is elegant and subdued, and has an almost delicate, feminine feel to it, different than the majority of han portals. Instead of the traditional, heavier honeycomb entry vault, a simple broken arch frames the door. The arch itself is surrounded by two different bands of decoration. Each arc rests on a pillar with a heavy rope-like carving, surmounted by a carved capital. The right capital contains vines and elements resembling pinecones or perhaps grape clusters (perhaps a reference to the rich vineyards of the region). The capital to the left depicts vines only.

Over the portal, the traditional stalactite-filled niche is replaced by a simple rounded vault, containing a trilobe-shaped area set in low relief, and which contains the inscription of 4 lines, of which only the last 2 can be deciphered (see above).


Additional noteworthy decoration is found on the portal leading to the covered section, the magnificent white marble spolia block in the "treasury" room, and the external fountain niche.

Total external area: 1500m2
Area of hall: 400m2
Area of courtyard: 1025m2

This is a large han of solid construction, but with a completely different look and feel to it than the Konya-Kayseri group of hans. The facade has less the appearance of an austere fortress as do the others, but displays rather a more restrained aspect.


Prior to 2006, the han had been abandoned for many years and had suffered as a result, but the essential elements remained intact. The walls were in excellent condition but the roof of the indoor area had collapsed.


Alarmed by the reports of use of the han by squatters and miscreants, the Foundations Directorate of the Turkish Ministry of Tourism ordered a renovation of the han, which was started in August, 2005. Also in August 2005, serious damage occurred to the nearby Seljuk bridge when a truck passing over it careened and crashed through the side of the bridge. The photographs taken in 1994 (side bar), 2005 at the start of the project, in 2006 at its near completion and in 2008 after restoration (below) provide interesting comparisons for architectural preservationists.

The restoration of the han was completed in 2007. In June, 2008, the han opened for business as a restaurant serving a perfect rendition of the famous Tokat kebab. The gracious young director Abdullah Efeli welcomes all to enjoy a moment of relaxation in this historic site. To view brochure, click the thumbnails below: 


The nearby Seljuk bridge and the stunning natural beauty of the Kaza Valley provide a setting of great charm.




Acun, pp. 254-271 (includes extensive bibliography in Turkish); 500.

Bektaş, Cengiz. Selçuklu kervansarayları, korunmaları ve kullanılmaları uzerine bir öneri = A proposal regarding the Seljuk caravanserais, their protection and use, 1999, pp. 132-137.
Branning, K. Moon Queen, 2014. (historical novel on the life of Mahperi Hatun).

Eravşar, Osman. Yollarin Taniklari (Witnesses of the Way), 2017, pp. 338-345.

Erdmann, Kurt. Das Anatolische Karavansaray des 13. Jahrhunderts, 1961, pp. 135-139, no. 36.
Ertuğ, Ahmet. The Seljuks: A Journey through Anatolian Architecture, 1991. p. 80.
Gabriel, A. Monuments turcs d'Anatolie, I, II. 1931, 1934, p. 112.

pp. 113-116; fig. 73-76, pl. XXXI.
Karpuz, Kuş, Dıvarcı and Şiek (2008), vol. 2, pp. 451-54.

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





































































The Kaza Valley in front of the han


The photos below show the han after completion of the major renovation project of 2006-2007


main facade

main portal

main portal, detail of stone carving

fountain on exterior wall of facade

Peephole in ceiling of entryway

courtyard overview, looking to main entrance

courtyard arcades, southwest

View of arcades, northwest

courtyard view, looking to covered section

View from courtyard to main entry

View from entry to covered section

aisles on northeast side of courtyard

facade of covered section

central aisle of covered section

View of covered section, arcades to southeast

lintel over door in former treasury

oven in kitchen

kitchen pantry

kitchen pantry



The photos below were taken at the beginning of the renovation project in August 2005 and show the last photos of the han before its restoration. Please click to enlarge.



restoration panel for the 2005 work

fountain on main facade

fountain kitabesi

side wall seen from east

overview of facade seen from the east

main portal overview

main portal

western side tower on facade

main portal side niche, left (east)

column capital, left niche of portal

Column capital left, detail of pinecone decoration

main portal side niche, right (west)

column capital right, detail

detail, niche right

right niche of portal

right niche, detail

right portal niche, detail of rope design

portal left, polygon carved panel

portal left, detail of polygon panel

detail of arch keystones

inscription plaque (kitabesi) over main portal

main entry as seen from courtyard

famous marble spolia lintel

Stairs to roof

western portico on courtyard

western portico

western portico

eastern portico

eastern portico

eastern portico

tethering hole in courtyard pillar

mason mark

eastern portico arches

eastern portico arches

eastern portico arches

eastern portico

portal of covered section and western portico

covered section portal

covered section portal

covered section portal

covered section inscription plaque

view of covered section with collapsed roof

Tokat painted wagon of workcrews

overview of bridge

damage to bridge from accident in August 2005

view of bridge with damaged side wall

The following photographs were taken in August 2006 nearing the end of the renovation project for the han

Repaired bridge after 2005 truck crash






©2001-2017, Katharine Branning; All Rights Reserved. No part of this site may be reproduced in any form without written consent from the author.