On Sunday, during the 45th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, convened in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a meticulous evaluation was conducted, resulting in the meticulous selection of 54 historical caravanserais situated in 24 provinces throughout Iran. These exceptional sites were officially inscribed onto the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List.
Since thousands of years ago and after civilizations were formed in varied parts of Iran, travel was one of the indivisible events in people’s lives. But due to difficulty of the road, most trips were limited to business trips, and one of the most important issues for travelers was accommodation on the route. This is how Iran’s caravanserais flourished one after another.
Iran can be deemed the cradle of old caravanserais. The primary reason was that a large part of Iran was on the silk road. Hence, the beginning of the prosperity of these buildings in Iran goes back to the time before the Achaemenid period.
Although most Iranian caravanserais have a square plan and various types of architecture, there are generally three plans for their construction:
These caravanserais are mostly built in the high and mountainous parts of northern Iran. In these areas, due to the severe cold and scorching mountains, the construction of a central courtyard was avoided. Also, to preserve heat, the height of the corridors’ ceilings was shorter and often made of stone. The guest rooms are located around the fireplace room and its entrance doors are made narrow. Of course, for air conditioning, there are holes in each corridor that could be covered in cold weather.
CARAVANSERAIS WITH YARDS
Most Iranian caravanserais are in this category. This type of caravanserais are mostly located in the plains and hot and dry areas and have architecture according to the hot Iranian climate. Most of these buildings have central courtyards and luxurious guest houses. The guest rooms were usually built a few steps higher than the yard level and the roofs of this area were generally dome-shaped. In some of them, wind deflectors were built to create airflow.
CARAVANSERAIS WITHOUT YARDS
The number of these caravanserais in Iran is very limited and most of them are located in the southern regions and the Persian Gulf. These buildings were mostly inside the city and due to their proximity to amenities, they did not have the usual appearance of a castle. In this type of caravanserais, there were no towers and ramparts and there were only corridors for passengers to rest.
5 CARAVANSERAIS THAT YOU MUST SEE ON YOUR TRIP TO IRAN
There are no exact statistics on the number of caravanserais built in Iran. Based on the evidence, it can be said that most of these buildings were built by the Safavids and especially by Shah Abbas. Throughout history and with the expansion of cities, caravanserais practically lost their use. But the credibility of some of them has not been lost even with the settling of the ash heap of history and they have still maintained their importance. In this article, I will introduce 5 caravanserais that you must visit during your trip to Iran.
DEIR-E GACHIN CARAVANSARAI
Deir-e Gachin Caravansarai is one of the greatest caravansarais of Iran and is located in the center of Kavir National Park. Its unique quality is the reason it is called the “Mother of Iranian Caravansarais”. It is located in the Central District of Qom County, 80 kilometers northeast of Qom (60 kilometers into Garmsar Freeway) and 35 kilometers southwest of Varamin.
This monument was registered on Iran’s National Heritage List on September 23, 2003. The structure of this caravanserai belongs to the Sasanian era, and restorations took place in the Seljuk, Safavid, and Qajar eras. Its current form belongs to the Safavid era. This caravanserai is situated on the ancient route from Ray to Isfahan.
The area of Deir-e Gechin Caravanserai reaches about 12,000 hectares. This caravanserai includes several towers, mosques, backyards, stone mills, bathrooms (including greenhouses and vaults), entrances, vestibules, porches, rooms, chambers, camel shelters, living spaces, and shops for buying and selling goods.
Outside and in the vicinity of the building, you can see a fire temple, a brick kiln, a reservoir, and a cemetery, which, taking into account the area of these parts, the size of the caravanserai will reach 19,000 hectares. Around this valuable complex, a square-shaped wall is drawn, each side of which has a height of more than five meters, a width of one meter, and a length of 80 meters.
- Address: Qom Province, Haram ta Haram Fwy
- Google Map
- Phone: +989121512213
SA’D AL-SALTANEH CARAVANSERAI
The Sa’d al-Saltaneh Caravanserai is an indoor large caravanserai located in the city of Qazvin in Qazvin Province of Iran. Constructed during the Qajar era, the caravanserai is one of Iran’s best-preserved urban caravanserais. The caravanserai is built on a square plan and has 4 iwans facing a courtyard.
The interiors are decorated with Muqarnas and Rasmi bandi. The Hujrehs, or the rooms for the travelers, are situated one meter above the courtyard ground level. The Hashti behind the southern iwan has the largest gonbad, with 4 semi-domes adjacent to it.
The eastern-western axis of the Hashti is called Dalan-i Qeisariyeh or “Caesar’s Hall”, and the north-south axis of the caravanserai’s Hashti is named Dalan-i Ghahremani or “Ghahremani Hall”. The former is connected to the “Bazaar of Vizir” of the city. There are also two smaller courtyards on the east and west of the Caravanserai.
- Address: Qazvin, Imam Khomeini St
- Google Map
The Titi Caravanserai is a caravanserai in Siahkal County, Iran. Dating back to the Safavid era, it was enlisted in the Iran national heritage sites list with the registration number 1784 on 2 December 1996.
This caravanserai with its area of 398 meters is located in the pleasant climate, balanced and humid area of Dilman. The caravanserai building is built on the north and south axis in such a way that it has a symmetrical architecture and plan.
There are two halls with dimensions of approximately 17 meters on both sides of the caravanserai yard. In the 4 corners of the caravanserai, you can see 4 porches, each of which leads to a room. In the past, the rooms of the caravanserai were used for entertaining and resting guests.
In the construction of the walls of the caravanserai, rubble was used, and in its arch, bricks, and mortar were used. The royal part of the caravanserai is located on the south side next to two rooms with a vestibule arch. A pond was built in the miansra or caravanserai yard, whose water was supplied from distant mountains and springs through clay pipes.
- Address: Gilan, Siahkal – Deylaman Rd
- Google Map
The Zein-o-Din Caravanserai is located in Zein-o-din, Yazd, Iran. The caravanserai dates to the 16th century and is situated on the ancient Silk Road. It is one of 999 such inns that were built during the reign of Shah Abbas I to provide facilities to travelers. Of these, Zein-o-din is one of two caravanserais built with circular towers. After its refurbishment, it has operated as an inn.
Zain-o-Din Caravanserai was registered as one of Iran’s national monuments on August 19, 1972, with registration number 926, and it has received the prize of one of the best hotels and best restorations from UNESCO.
- Address: Yazd, Kerman 60 Km
- Google Map
- Phone: +989123060441
MOSHIR AL-MOLK CARAVANSERAI
Moshir al-Molk Caravanserai, located in Dashtestan County in Bushehr Province, is one of the magnificent structures of the Qajar period and it was built in 1288 lunar year equal to 1250 solar by the order of a benefactor named Haj Mirza Abul Hasan Khan Moshir al-Molk Shirazi with a cost equal to forty thousand Tomans of that time.
The area of this caravanserai is 7000 square meters, the building area is equal to 4200 square meters, the height of each tower is 12.70 meters, and the number of rooms is 68.
This fort was used as a prison until late and is originally a caravanserai from the Qajar period. It was registered as a national work in 1983 under number 1638. This fort has watchtowers that were built in the center of the city to face the enemies.
- Address: Borazjan, Bushehr Province, Iran
- Google Map