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The Impressive Sultanhani Caravansarai-Aksaray (Legacy of  the Ancient Silk Road)




Sultanhani Caravansarai (kervansaray) is one of the largest of its genre (4500 sq.m.). Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad I built Aksaray Sultanhani in 1229. With its buttresses and sturdy walls, it has the appearance of a fort on the outside. Sultanhani falls into the group of double-sectioned caravanserais: there is a huge enclosed hall on the south and an open courtyard in front of it. Entrance to this latter section is through an imposing portal and a rectangular vestibule covered with a star-shaped vault behind it. On the two sides of the arch crowning the portal niche one may read the name of the maser-architect inscribed inside two hexagonal medallions: "Amele Muhammed bin Hav (la) n (el-Dimiski)". The word Dimiski indicates the origin of the architect who came from Damascus. The Syrian origin of the architect is also evident from the decoration of the portal, which reminds Zengid stone works. The vaulted rooms on the two sides of the entrance vestibule were used as office rooms for administrative operations.

The masjid of the caravanserai is at the centre of the courtyard. It leans on four big arches and contains a mihrab on the inside. It is because a caravanserai is a profane and a very functional building; so-called kiosk-masjid is heightened from the ground to create a space devoted to the house of God. Stables and rooms, which were covering daily services like medication, game, nourishment and assembly, are placed around the courtyard. Barrel vaults cover all these rectangular units. The portal of the enclosed section fronts the masjid in the courtyard. Behind it, is the huge hall of the sleeping and living grounds. The interior is divided into 9 aisles through arcades running east to west and covered with barrel vaults. There are two rows of confronting arches that flank the central aisle perpendicular to the portal. This central aisle which is wider than the others, has the character of a nave. The central one of the east-west aisles intersects it creating a cross at the centre for orientation. A dome with a conical cap on the outside covers the square unit at the centre of the cross.

Prof. Dr. Ali Uzay Peker-METU


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Last modified: 2023-10-28


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