The Seljuk Han of Anatolia

Visiting Hans:

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 Seljuk-era hans are built on the same ancient trade routes over which the caravans traveled. You can thus cross 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 perhaps some 200 hans, both large and small, built during the Seljuk era. This site provides a listing of 40 of the most important ones still standing, with details on their location and architectural elements. The remaining hans 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 Karatay 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 traveled on its own, or can be combined into 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* The Turkish government has recently embarked on a major renovation program for many of these hans, so note that the photos on this site may not always be up-to-date as to their current appearance in 2013.

CAPPADOCIA/AVANOS/AKSARAY REGION

AĞZIKARA*

ALAY

RESIN (TEPSIDELIK )

SARI *

SULTAN HAN AKSARAY*

if time, a detour north to: KESIKKPR

 

Cappadocia remains the favorite region of Turkey for many travelers, due to its 5th century cliffside cave churches and its spectacular landscape of tufa rock formations. A rich concentration of hans is tucked in this region, and stretch like a string prayer beads on the roads from Aksaray east to Nevşehir and Avanos. The Greme 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 resun Han (6km farther), and the Alay Han (another 6km; one of the first royal hans).

KONYA REGION

DOKUZUN

ELI-KESIK

HOROZLU*

KURUEŞME

KANDEMIR

OBRUK

ZAZADIN*

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 tomb of Mevlana.

Visitors may use Konya as a base for 3 han discovery drives:

  • eastern drive: Horozlu, Zazadin, Obruk
  • western drive: Eli-Kesik, Kizilren, Kandemir
  • northern drive: Dokuzun
AFYON/CENTRAL REGION

CAY

EĞRET

KADIN

SAHIPATA*

 
KAYSERI REGION

KARATAY*

SULTAN HAN KAYSERI*

 
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 monuments.

 

MEDITERRANEAN COAST REGION

ALARA*

EVDIR*

KARGI

ŞARAFSA*

The Mediterranean Sea and the important Seljuk cities of Antalya and Alanya are the highlights of this region.
BEYŞEHIR/BUDUR REGION

EĞIRDIR

ERTOKUŞ

INCIR*

KIRKGZ*

SUSUZ*

The spectacular drive up from the coast to the Central Lakes region is unforgettable. This region is often overlooked by tourists despite its natural beauty and relaxing environment.

 

 

SIVAS/TOKAT/AMASYA REGION
CAKALLI

DURAGAN

EZINEPAZAAR

PAZAR *

This region was an important trade area in the Seljuk times, although few hans remain standing. This is a beautiful natural region to discover.

 

WESTERN/DENIZLI REGION
AK*

CARDAK

The Ak Han of Denizli is the westernmost of the hans.

 

EASTERN REGION

ESAB-I KEYF*

HEKIM

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: This 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 Kle 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
Day 3

 

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 Keyhsrev 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 the morning, visit the Seljuk monuments of Eğirdir and then drive to the Ertokuş Han

Afternoon drive to Afyon; and visit of the Seljuk monuments there, notably the wooden-pillared Ulu Cami and the Altigz Bridge

overnight in Afyon
Day 6 Drive from Afyon to Akşehir; then to Konya Visit of the ay and Sultandağı Sahipata hans and Seljuk monuments of Akşehir (the Taş and U Kizlar Medreses, the Gdk Minare, Ulu Cami and the Kk 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
Day 8 Konya visit to hans on three side trips:
  • eastern drive: Horozlu, Zazadin, Obruk
  • western drive: Eli-Kesik, Kizilren, Kurueşme
  • northern drive: Dokuzun
overnight in Konya
Day 9 Drive from Konya via Aksaray to Nevşehir in Capadoccia Visit of the Obruk, Sultan Han Aksaray, Ağizkara, Alay and resun hans Overnight in Nevşehir or Urgp or Avanos
Day 10 Cappadocia Visit the Greme Natıonal Park and the cave churches of the 5th century, and the Sari Han Overnight in Nevşehir or Urgp 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 Dner 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 ifte Minare, Gk and Buruciye Medreses, the Izzeddin Keykavus Hospital and Tomb, the Ulu Cami, Gdk Minare and the Kesik and Eğirli bridges. Overnight in Sivas
Day 13 Drive from Sivas to Tokat and Amasya Visit of the Yıldız Kprs 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, one of the most charming towns in all of Turkey: the Burmali Minare Mosque, the Torumtay Tomb, the Gkmedrese Mosque, and the Ilkhanid 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):

ALANYA

The Kaptan Hotel on the Harbor or the Grand Kaptan on the beach are both excellent options. There are hundreds of hotels of all types in Alanya.
ANTALYA Visitors may stay in a restored Ottoman house hotel the inner harbor area (I 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 resort 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 (Oruoğlu 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 Seluk 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 The Kşk or Byk 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.

 

2001-2013, Katharine Branning; All Rights Reserved. No part of this site may be reproduced in any form without written consent from the author.