ISTANBUL - ANKARA
Aksaray’s Sultanhanı caravanserai, which was built eight centuries ago, is one of the most significant tourist attractions in central Anatolia
The historic Sultanhanı caravanserai will be restored to its original within a new project. Officials hope to host more tourists after its restoraiton. AA Photos
The Sultanhanı caravanserai, located in the central Anatolian province of Aksaray’s Sultanhanı district and known as the largest caravanserai in Anatolia, draws great interest from visitors.
Being built eight centuries ago for travelers during their journeys across the continent, the caravanserai still hosts tourists along the Konya-Aksaray highway plotting their path to Cappadocia.
Sultanhanı Mayor Fahri Solak said the caravanserai was 110 kilometers away from Konya and 45 kilometers away from Aksaray, adding it was one of the strongest structures in the world. “The caravanserai is visited by 400 foreigners and 200 locals in a year,” he added.
The mayor said a project had recently been made for the restoration of the caravanserai and sent to the High Council of Monuments. He said, “The caravanserai will be restored to its original and continue to serve tourism. 1.5 million tourists annually use the Konya-Aksaray highway. Some 400,000 foreigners out of them are being hosted in the Sultanhanı district. We will host more tourists after the restoration process.”
Speaking of the architectural features of the caravanserai, Solak said, “It has sections for summer and winter months. It is the only inn that has both entrance gates made of marble. Stone is used for other caravanserais’ gates. The fine working on the marble gates is one of the reasons why the structure draws a great number of tourists. We did not receive too many local tourists in the past, but recently people from universities and other places come to visit the caravanserai. Mostly Italians visit the caravanserai in summer months and Japanese tourists in winter months.”
The Sultanhanı caravanserai was built in 1229 by Selçuk Sultan Alaaddin Keykubat. Aksaray was an important stopover along the Silk Road route that crossed through Anatolia.
After suffering partial destruction in a fire, the caravanserai was restored and extended in 1278 during the reign of Sultan Kaykhusraw III. The monumental caravanserai then became the largest in Turkey and is one of the best examples of Anatolian Selçuk architecture.
The caravanserai is made up of two sections; one for summer use and the other for winter use. The summer part sprawls over an area of 4,868 square meters and is home to a small mosque.
The caravanserai enjoyed its glory years during the Selçuk period, but lost its importance during the Ottoman era.