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Persian Caravanserais Inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List

On September 17, 2023, 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.

The extensive file of Iran’s caravanserais, which includes 54 historical inns located in 24 provinces, represents a curated selection from hundreds of such historical sites. As outlined in the documentation, these caravanserais serve as one of the most vital architectural manifestations in Iranian history.

They have played a pivotal role in the development of routes and travel-related needs over the years. The selection process for these 54 was thorough, comparing the layouts of up to 200 caravanserais, ensuring each chosen had a distinct design. This underlines the profound creativity and genius of Iranian architects throughout history.

Moreover, these Iranian caravanserais have been intricately woven into the fabric of societal and cultural evolutions. Their influence can be perceived across literature, poetry, paintings, miniatures, music, and of course, architecture. When compared internationally, the distinct design and structure of Iranian caravanserais stand out. It seems that many other types of caravanserais globally may have been inspired by the original Iranian models.

List Of All 54 Iranian Caravanserais On UNESCO’s World Heritage List

Here is the comprehensive list of all 54 Iranian caravanserais that have earned a coveted spot on UNESCO’s World Heritage List as of September 17, 2023. These listings were confirmed during the 45th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which convened in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

IDName of CaravanseraiCoordinatesCity
1Deyr-e Gachin CaravanseraiN35 3 30.07 E51 25 12.49Tehran – Qom
2Noushirvān CaravanseraiN35 46 14.63 E53 43 56.54Semnan
3Āhovān CaravanseraiN35 46 13.94 E53 43 48.52Semnan
4Parand CaravanseraiN35 27 29.62 E50 58 28.55Tehran
5Robāt-e Sharaf CaravanseraiN36 15 59.65 E60 39 18.58Mashhad
6Anjireh Ājori CaravanseraiN32 9 11.68 E54 28 37.59Isfahan
7Anjireh Sangi CaravanseraiN32 9 43.96 E54 29 2.54Isfahan
8Abbās Ābād Tāybād CaravanseraiN34 59 45.37 E60 43 6.12Taybad
9Jamāl Ābād CaravanseraiN37 16 18.89 E47 50 35.16Tabriz
10Qelli CaravanseraiN37 9 11.86 E56 55 14.67Gorgan
11Fakhr-e Dāvūd CaravanseraiN35 59 59.59 E59 18 48.55Mashhad
12Sheikhali Khān CaravanseraiN32 52 5.37 E51 22 13.45Isfahan
13Maranjāb CaravanseraiN34 17 56.89 E51 48 44.59Kashan
14Amin Ābād CaravanseraiN31 40 21.7 E52 4 6.41Yazd
15Gabr Ābād CaravanseraiN33 46 6.96 E51 29 22.29Qom
16Mahyār CaravanseraiN32 15 54.06 E51 48 35.04Isfahan
17Gaz CaravanseraiN32 48 33.69 E51 36 33.56Isfahan
18Kūhpāyeh CaravanseraiN32 42 48.35 E52 26 8.83Isfahan
19Mazinān CaravanseraiN36 18 28.36 E56 48 23.19Semnan
20Mehr CaravanseraiN36 17 4.53 E57 8 36.97Mashhad
21Zafarāniyeh CaravanseraiN36 9 56.59 E58 5 10.43Mashhad
22Fakhr Ābād CaravanseraiN34 44 40.69 E58 3 19.39Birjand
23Sarāyān CaravanseraiN33 51 19.03 E58 31 4.86Birjand
24Qasr-e Bahrām CaravanseraiN34 45 55.01 E52 10 37.69Isfahan
25Mayāmey CaravanseraiN36 24 33.07 E55 39 11.88Semnan
26Abbās Ābād CaravanseraiN36 21 40.39 E56 23 16.35Sari
27Miāndasht CaravanseraiN36 25 41.27 E56 3 38.08Gorgan
28Zeynoddīn CaravanseraiN31 24 42.69 E54 42 24.67Yazd
29Meybod CaravanseraiN32 13 40.53 E54 0 33.1Yazd
30Farasfaj CaravanseraiN34 29 16.68 E48 16 58.76Tuyserkan
31Īzadkhāst CaravanseraiN31 30 48.11 E52 7 59.54Shiraz
32Bisotūn CaravanseraiN34 23 04.32 E47 26 05.76Kermanshah
33Ganjali Khān CaravanseraiN30 17 27.44 E57 4 44.17Kerman
34Yengeh Emām CaravanseraiN35 56 10.63 E50 43 10.64Tehran
35Khājeh Nazar CaravanseraiN38 58 38.8 E45 34 37.1Tabriz
36Goujebel CaravanseraiN38 20 38.02 E46 51 48.06Tabriz
37Sāeen CaravanseraiN38 0 3.76 E47 52 53.71Ardabil
38Titi CaravanseraiN37 2 41.19 E49 54 8.05Rasht
39Dehdasht CaravanseraiN30 47 17.53 E50 33 41.49Yasuj
40Khoy CaravanseraiN38 27 57.6 E44 37 24.7Khoy
41Bāgh-e Sheikh CaravanseraiN34 59 26.99 E50 26 49.04Qom
42Neyestānak CaravanseraiN32 58 16.34 E52 47 57.71Isfahan
43Chehel Pāyeh CaravanseraiN31 56 24.04 E57 8 25.47Kerman
44Khān CaravanseraiN33 21 58.97 E56 4 13.49Yazd
45Deh Mohammad CaravanseraiN33 59 29.62 E56 58 45.04Yazd
46Tāj Ābād CaravanseraiN34 52 35.88 E48 13 14.62Hamedan
47Chāh kūrān CaravanseraiN31 34 9.6 E56 51 0.61Yazd
48Kharānaq CaravanseraiN32 20 41.81 E54 40 4.74Yazd
49Rashti CaravanseraiN32 26 26.6 E53 37 51.79Isfahan
50Borāzjān CaravanseraiN29 16 1.61 E51 12 29.73Bushehr
51Chameshk CaravanseraiN33 14 16.64 E48 12 40.81Khorramabad
52Afzal CaravanseraiN32 2 38.26 E48 51 7.66Ahvaz
53Bastak CaravanseraiN27 11 54.6 E54 22 33.5Bandar Abbas
54Saʿadossaltaneh CaravanseraiN36 16 9.46 E50 0 2.55Qazvin

Each of these caravanserais carries with it a piece of Iran’s rich history and architectural brilliance, now globally recognized and preserved for generations to come.

The Significance of Persian Caravanserais

In the historical narrative of Iran, caravanserais hold a position of paramount importance. Located at the crossroads of ancient civilizations, Iran’s historical roads have played a pivotal role in shaping Persian civilization. From time immemorial to the present day, these routes have been cherished as key economic lifelines. Take, for example, the Silk Roads, an enduring corridor that played a vital role in the Persian Empire’s rich history.

One particularly renowned route, known as the Royal Road, dates back to the Achaemenid period. This road connected the empire’s main cities and contributed significantly to its prosperity. Throughout Iran’s history, an intricate network of routes crisscrossed the land, linking regions and facilitating trade. The Silk Roads, in particular, stand as a testament to the power of connectivity. These roads not only ushered in the exchange of goods but also facilitated the intermingling of ideas and cultures, ultimately shaping the world we know today.

Historical roads served multifaceted functions, featuring bridges, checkpoints, castles, bazaars, and most notably, caravanserais. Caravanserais, as integral elements of Iran’s historical roads, were more than just resting places for weary travelers and safeguarding their belongings. They were bustling hubs where travelers, merchants, scholars, and scientists converged to exchange knowledge, ideas, and embark on voyages of discovery into new civilizations.

List Of All Iranian Caravanserais Inscribed On Unesco’s World Heritage List
Iran’s Persian Caravanserai Recognized As UNESCO World Heritage

These historic routes formed a sprawling network of trade and cultural exchange, spanning the globe from ancient times to the modern era. Along these routes, people of diverse cultures, religions, and languages converged, fostering the exchange of ideas and influencing one another.

What makes Persian caravanserais truly remarkable is their resilience, uniqueness, and harmonious integration with the environment. Crafted using vernacular materials and techniques, these structures were strategically located to cater to travelers’ needs.

While many caravanserais are now found in cities and villages, historical studies suggest that they were the catalysts for the development of these settlements. In essence, the emergence of cities and villages along these routes owes much to the presence of caravanserais.

Top Iran Deserts You Must Explore
The Kuhpayeh caravanserai is a 300-year-old hotel located in the city of Kuhpayeh in Iran’s Isfahan Province.

In summary, Persian caravanserais are far more than mere rest stops; they are the beating heart of historical roads that connected civilizations, fostered cultural exchange, and paved the way for the growth of communities. Their enduring legacy continues to echo through history, reminding us of the profound impact of these remarkable structures on Persian civilization and the world.

Some Fascinating Facts about Iranian Caravanserais


The Ribat I Sharaf
The Ribat-i Sharaf is a caravanserai, or rest place for travellers, located in Razavi Khorasan Province, Iran, between Merv and Nishapur. Built in the 12th century, the building looks like a fortified rectangle from the exterior. The courtyard and four Iwan floorplan is that of the traditional standard Iranian mosque.

The word “caravanserai” comes from the Persian words “karvan” meaning caravan and “saray” meaning palace or dwelling. Thus, it’s a place where caravans rest.

Architectural Significance

Most caravanserais follow a quadrangular plan. The entrance is usually a large, ornate gate that leads into a central courtyard. Surrounding this courtyard are rooms and stalls for merchants, travelers, and their animals.

Safety and Rest

Caravanserais were built at intervals of 20-30 kilometers, which is roughly the distance a caravan could travel in one day. They served as safe havens against bandits and provided necessary shelter against harsh climatic conditions.

Qasr E Bahram Caravanserai
Qasr-e Bahram Caravanserai

Spread of Culture

Beyond being mere resting places, caravanserais played an essential role in the exchange of culture. Travelers from different parts of the world would meet and share stories, goods, and knowledge, making these places melting pots of culture.

Incorporation of Religious Spaces

Many caravanserais had mosques built within them for travelers to perform their religious duties. This is a testament to the integration of religious, cultural, and commercial aspects of life during that era.

Maranjab Caravanserai
Maranjab Caravanserai

Economic Hubs

Apart from serving travelers, many caravanserais became bustling economic centers, hosting markets and facilitating trade.


The rise of modern transportation methods and improved infrastructure led to the decline in the use of caravanserais as primary resting and trading hubs.

The Persian Caravanserai
Deyre Gachin Caravansary


Many caravanserais have been restored and converted into hotels, museums, or cultural centers to preserve their rich history. They serve as popular tourist attractions.

Sa'd Al Saltaneh Caravanserai
Sa’d al-Saltaneh Caravanserai

Diverse Designs

While there is a standard architectural format, many caravanserais differ in design based on the region, the era in which they were built, and the specific needs of the travelers they aimed to serve.

Safavid Era Flourish

The Safavid dynasty (1501-1722) in Iran saw a significant boost in the construction of caravanserais, primarily to promote trade and facilitate the movement of goods and people across the empire.

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SURFIRAN Editorial Team

SURFIRAN is an Iranian tour operator and travel agency offering tour packages to those interested in Iran. It provides the tourists with services needed to travel to Iran, offers tours across the country, and assists the tourists in obtaining Iranian visas.

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