Historical inn hosting local, foreign tourists
AKSARAY - Anatolia News Agency
Sultan Inn, which is located in the Central Anatolian province of Aksaray is known as the largest caravanserai in Anatolia. AA photo
Sultan Inn, which was built eight centuries ago to welcome weary travelers during their journeys across the continent, is continuing its tradition of hospitality by hosting travelers along the Konya-Aksaray highway plotting their path to Cappadocia.
The inn, which is located in the Central Anatolian province of Aksaray’s Sultanhanı district and known as the largest caravanserai remaining in Anatolia, was built in 1229 by Selçuk Sultan Alaaddin Keykubat. Aksaray was an important stopover along the Silk Road that crossed through Anatolia for centuries.
After suffering partial destruction in a fire, the inn was restored and extended in 1278 by the local governor, Seraceddin Ahmed Kerimeddin bin al-Hasan, 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 is for summer use while the other is for winter use. The summer part sprawls over an area of 4,868 square meters and is home to a small mosque.
The inn enjoyed its glory years during the Selçuk period but lost its importance during the Ottoman era because the trading road on which it is located also lost importance. Following its maintenance and restoration between 1950 and 1965, the caravanserai regained its touristic importance and is now hosting foreign and local tourist groups rather than caravans and small traders.
The largest caravanserai serves tourists
Speaking to Anatolia news agency, Sultanhanı Deputy Mayor Halil Söylemez said Sultanhanı was the world’s oldest caravanserai as well as being the largest.
He said that visitors entered Sultanhanı through a magnificent portal in its eastern façade.
“There is one more but plainer portal in the entrance of the closed part of the caravanserai. There is a small mosque in the center of the open yard,” the deputy mayor said. “This yard is surrounded by rooms that served as a kitchen, dining hall, Turkish bath, sitting and bed room. It was built according to Turkish structural style. The Sultanhanı Foundation used to pay for accommodation and other expenditures of caravans for three days. Now there is a restoration plan for Sultanhanı and the project is in tender process. When it is done, the General Directorate for Foundations will approve it.”
Söylemez said Sultanhanı was one of the most frequent places for tourists going to Cappadocia, which is famous for its fairy chimneys in the Central Anatolian province of Nevşehir.
“Because it is on the road to Cappadocia, the number of tourists [heading to the touristic region] reaches 300,000 in summer. Most of these tourists are foreigners. They are coming from all around the world, mostly from Europe. Tourists from Far Eastern countries follow them,” he said.