The Seljuk Han of Anatolia
A proposed itinerary
Caravans arriving in hans were welcomed to stay for three days at no cost, courtesy of the building's founder. You, too, can step back in time and relive history by enjoying a visit to a Seljuk han as a modern caravaneer. The excellent modern Turkish highways now passing in front of hans are built on the same ancient trade routes over which the caravans traveled, and you can crisscross the major trade routes of Seljuk Turkey and experience the same adventure as they did.
The Turkish Government has submitted an offıcial request to UNESCO that the "Seljuk Caravanserais on the route from Denizli to Doğubeyazit" be placed on the World Heritage List of Monuments, due to their participation in the interchange of human values and the arts, their exceptional testimony to the cultural traditions of a civilization which has disappeared, and their illustration of an outstanding type of building. By visiting one or more of these hans, you will be able to discover for yourself the universal historical, social and artistic value of the Seljuk caravansarai.
It is estimated that there were some 132 hans built during the Seljuk era. This site provides a listing of 40 of the most important ones still standing today, with details as to their location and architecture. The rest are in ruins, faint echoes of their former glory. Those that do remain standing, however, are well-preserved and are an exciting destination to visit and explore as you step back in time. Some are run as museums, some have been restored for tourists, and others have been readapted for more modern purposes. No one traveling in Turkey should leave without visiting a Seljuk han, for walking in its vast courtyard is an evocative historical experience. Although you will not find them full of camels and bustling merchants today, these courtyards will provide you with the the insight onto the daily life of a han.
In order to plan a visit to one or several hans, the brief guide is proposed below. If you do not have the time to organize an entire regional discovery trip, every effort should be made to visit at least one of the more important hans: the Kayseri Sultan Han, the Aksaray Sultan Han (the grandest of them all), the Kararay Han, the Ağzikara Han, or the Sari Han. Other notable hans on the list are marked with an asterisk.*
The following list proposes 9 regional areas which contain hans that can be visited. As part of a discovery tour of Turkey, these hans can be visited in conjunction with the many other cultural and historic riches in the area. Each region can be travelled individually, or can be combined in a larger, loop tour of Turkey (see proposed itinerary below). The easiest way to visit these hans is by private car, but it is completely feasible to arrange a trip by inner-city busses, then by smaller jitneys, hired drivers or taxis. The latter is a less expensive alternative, but will take more time and necessitates a very light suitcase or backpack. Directions to reach each han are listed at the beginning of its description on this website, and current guidebooks to Turkey will provide up-to-date information on hotels (some suggestions are provided below). A good road map to Turkey is essential. It is suggested to cover no more than 150-200 kilometers per day, which will allow enough time to visit the hans and other sightseeing spots in the surrounding area, as well as to enjoy the other delights of travel in Turkey: picnics, tea drinking, kebab eating, carpet shopping, swimming, hiking, and meeting people.
nota: The most outstanding hans are marked with an asterisk*
ÖRESIN (TEPSIDELIK )
if time, a detour north to: KESIKKÖPRÜ
|Cappadocia remains the favorite region of Turkey for
many travelers, due to its cliffside 5th century cave churches and
its spectacular landscape of tufa rock formations. Tucked in this region
is a rich concentration of hans, stretching like prayer beads on the
roads from Aksaray east to Nevsehir and Avanos. The Goreme National
Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia are one of the 9 sites in Turkey on
the UNESCO World Heritage List.
On the Konya-Aksarary Road, the Aksaray Sultan han is 52 km before Aksaray.
On the Aksaray-Nevşehir Road, you may see one after the other the Ağizkara Han (15 km out of Aksaray; one of the most spectacular), the Öresun Han (6km farther; has suffered damage but merits a visit due to the originality of its plan), and the Alay Han (another 6km; one of the first royal hans).
|The Konya region offers the second largest concentration of
hans, and showcases some spectacular examples, notably the newly-restored Zazadin Han.
Konya, the capital of the Seljuks, is one of the most beautiful cities in Turkey, rich with heritage, culture, spirituality and spectacular monuments, notably the Karatay, Ince, Sahipata and Sircali Medreses, the Alaeddin Mosque, and the Mevlana turbe.
Visitors may use Konya as a base for 3 han discovery drives:
|These are two of the most spectacular
examples in all of Turkey. The city of Kayseri, under the shadow of the majestic Mt. Erciyes, is a goldmine of Seljuk civilization.
|MEDITERRANEAN COAST REGION|
|The Mediterranean Sea and the important Seljuk cities of Antalya and Alanya are the highlights of this region.|
drive up from the coast to the Central Lakes region is unforgettable.
This region is often overlooked by tourists despite its natural beauty and
|This region was an important trade area in
the Seljuk times, although few hans remain standing. This is a
beautiful natural region to discover.
|The Ak Han of Denizli is the most western
of the hans.
|More off the beaten path than the other regions, this area is rich in natural and historic sites.|
A proposed tour of the highlights of Seljuk Turkey
The following two-week loop tour itinerary is
proposed for those traveling by private car, and demands a fair amount of
driving. It presents a compact itinerary of the major Seljuk sites and
monuments. It can be done on more than one trip if time does not allow the
complete loop or if a more leisurely pace is desired. nota:
itinerary does not include the western or eastern region hans
listed on the table above, which can be done when taking a tour starting
in Izmir or Malatya.
(For suggested hotels, see below)
For a list of cities with significant examples of monuments with ceramic decoration, click here.
|Day 1||From Istanbul, fly to Antalya; rent car; drive west to Alanya||Visit of the glorious Seljuk monuments of Alanya: the Citadel, Tershane and Kizil Küle||Overnight in Alanya|
|Day 2||Drive from Alanya to Antalya||Visit of the Şarafsa, Alara and Kargi Hans; visit of the roman city of Side, visit of the Roman theatre of Aspendos and its Seljuk pavilion of Alaeddin Keykubad||Overnight in Antalya|
|Antalya||Visit of the Seljuk monuments of Antalya: the "Kalekapisi" neighborhood is where number of buildings of Seljuk origin are concentrated: the Fluted (Yivli) Minaret, the Yivli Mosque, the Giyaseddin Keyhusrev Medrese, the Seljuk Medrese, the Mevlevi Han, the Zincirkiran Mausoleum and the Nigar Hatun Mausoleum.||Overnight in Antalya|
|Day 4||Drive to Eğirdir||Visit of the Evdir, Kirgoz, Incir, Susuz and Eğirdir hans||overnight in Eğirdir|
|Day 5||Drive from Eğirdir to Afyon||in
morning, visit of the Seljuk monuments of Eğirdir
and drive to the Ertokuş Han
afternoon drive to Afyon; and visit of the Seljuk monuments there, notably the wooden-pillared Ulu Cami and the Altigöz Bridge
|overnight in Afyon|
|Day 6||Drive from Afyon to Akşehir; then to Konya||Visit of the Çay and Sultandağı Sahipata hans and Seljuk monuments of Akşehir (the Taş and Uç Kizlar Medreses, the Güdük Minare, Ulu Cami and the Küçük Aya Sofya Mosque with its stunning faience decoration); after lunch drive to Konya and stop along the way for a visit of the Kadin Han||overnight in Konya|
|Day 7||Konya||Visit of the monuments of the Seljuk capital of Konya: Alaeddin Mosque, Sahip Ata Complex, Karatay, Ince and Sircali Medreses and the Mevlana Tomb complex||overnight in Konya|
visit to hans
on three side trips:
||overnight in Konya|
|Day 9||Drive from Konya via Aksaray to Nevşehir in Capadoccia||Visit of the Obruk, Sultan Han Aksaray, Ağizkara, Alay and Öresun hans||Overnight in Nevşehir or Urgüp or Avanos|
|Day 10||Cappadocia||Visit the Göreme Natıonal Park and the cave churches of the 5th century and the Sari Han||Overnight in Nevşehir or Urgüp or Avanos|
|Day 11||Drive from Cappadocia to Kayseri||Visit of the Seljuk monuments of Kayseri, a famous trading city and the most important city of the Seljuks after Konya: The Hunat Hatun Complex the Döner Kumbet, the Gevher Nesibe Hospital, and the Giyasiye and Şifahiye Medreses.||Overnight in Kayseri|
|Day 12||Drive from Kayseri to Sivas||Visit of the Sultan Han Kayseri and the Karatay Han; visit of the spectacular Seljuk monuments of Sivas: the Çifte Minare, Gök and Burucciye Medreses, the Izzeddin Keykavus Hospital and Tomb, the Ulu Cami, Güdük Minare and the Kesik and Eğirli bridges.||Overnight in Sivas|
|Day 13||Drive from Sivas to Tokat and Amasya||Visit of the Yıldız Köprüsü on the Sivas-Tokat road; visit of the Seljuk monuments of Tokat and drive to Pazar and Ezinepazaar hans; visit of the Seljuk and Mongol monuments of Amasya, the most charming town in all of Turkey: the Burmali Minare Mosque, the Torumtay Tomb, the Gökmedrese Mosque, and the Ilhanid Hospital||Overnight in Amasya|
|Day 14||Drive from Amasya to Samsun; return car and return flight to Istanbul||visit of the Kavak han||return to Istanbul|
Suggested hotels (most have websites you may consult to make reservations):
|The Kaptan Hotel on the Harbor or the Grand Kaptan on the beach are both excellent options.|
|ANTALYA||Visitors may stay in a restored Ottoman house hotel the inner harbor area (Iç Kalesi) such as the charming Doğan, in a seaside hotel near town on the Lara Beach (Antalya, Dedeman) or the Konyaalti Beach (Sheraton) areas, or stay in a beach resorts further out to the east (Kemer or Belek) or west towards Side if time allows a few days to rest.|
|EGIRDIR||The Eğirdir Hotel in the center of town facing the Lake is a calm spot to enjoy the peace of this area. The dining room built around a giant plane tree is particularly charming.|
|AFYON||Afyon is a noted thermal springs area. There are several spa hotels outside of town (Oruçoğlu and Iklal) or the Grand Ozer in the center of town.|
|KONYA||Konya has many hotels near the Mevlana Complex (Rumi, Bera), as well as several luxury options (Dedeman, Ozkaymak, Rixos). The Selçuk Hotel near the Alaeddin Hill is also an excellent choice.|
|AKSARAY/NEVSEHIR/AVANOS||The Ağacli Motel in Aksaray is a surprisingly refreshing oasis; also the luxury options of the Grand Eras outside of town or the Dedeman in Nevşehir. Others may prefer staying in one of the numerous small charming guesthouses or cave hotels in Avanos.|
|KAYSERI||The ultramodern Hilton or Almer in the center of town are good choices, as they are near all the major Seljuk monuments of the city.|
|SIVAS||Köşk or Büyük Sivas are both in the center of town within walking distance of all monuments (except bridges).|
|AMASYA||The Apple Palace in town on the river bank or the one up on the hill (with pool) overlooking the city are excellent choices; as are the small restored Ottoman mansions on the north bank of the river, such as the Paşa Konak.|
©2001-2011, Katharine Branning; All Rights Reserved. No part of this site may be reproduced in any form without written consent from the author.