Monday, 7 January 2013

Stunning caravanserais of the Silk Road

During the heyday of overland travel, thousands of resting places popped up along what we now call the Silk Road. They were called caravanserais in Iran and Central Asia, sarays in India and han, khan or kervansarai in Turkey and the Middle East.
Many hundreds of them survived up until today. They serve as some of the finest examples of the architecture of the time, with sometimes spectacular brickwork. Some have been restored and are in use as hotels, teahouses or bazaars. Others are left to languish in the desert.
Here are, in our mind, some of the finest examples.
iran textile museum caravanserai
Credits: flickr user joao leitao
The textile museum in Meybod, Iran offers an interesting peek into the history of woven fabrics in a magnificent setting.
detail of roof in meybod
Credits: flickr user ninara
A detail from the roof of the museum.
tash rabat
Credits: flickr user eyetour
Tash Rabat in Kyrgyzstan, an imposing fortress in a desolate setting.
Credits: flickr user David Goodall
Tash Rabat seen from a distance.
Credits: flickr user indigoprime
In Shaki, Azerbaijan, lies this beautifully restored caravanserai.
selim dark caravanserai
Credits: flickr user selinab
A scary, underground caravanserai in Selim, Armenia, near lake Sevan.
inside caravanserai
Credits: flickr user Mike Gadd
The caravanserai of Zein-O-Din has become a hotel once more.
outside view of caravanserai
Credits: flickr user Mike Gadd
Outside it’s lovely too.
credits: flickr user harryreynolds
Rabati Malik in Uzbekistan has been abandoned for a long time, but has made it onto the Unesco heritage list, and thus will live on for some time. Other caravanserais we will never see again, or are in the process of being destroyed right now.
Credits: flickr user charlie phillips
The mud-walled city of Bam, Iran was flattened by a devastating earthquake in 2003. This sight no one will ever see again.
As'ad Pascha inside
Credits: flickr user Jim Gordon
The As’Ad Pascha khan in Damascus, Syria, was returned in 1990 to its full glory. We don’t know what will be left when the destruction of the civil war finally ends.
inside qazvin caravanserai
Credits: flickr user Mohammed Shasavari
The urban caravanserai of Sa’d al-Saltaneh in Qazvin is still standing, in the heart of Qazvin, near Tehran. To all policy makers: please don’t bomb it!
One more thing: don’t be like us when you’re trying to be smart. When commenting on architecture, note that while in most Turkish languages saray means palace, in Russian it means shed. So just watch out.


Don said...

See more photos of Rabat-i Malik.

Don said...

=Also see Tash Rabat. Unfortunately I took the photos before the days of digital cameras, using only a cheap little snapshot film camera, hence the rather poor photos.

Steven said...

Bedankt voor de aandacht, Hans! Just wanted to mention it's caravanistan, not carivanistan :-) I like your blog, btw, I don't think there is anyone else doing the same, so, very useful, keep up the good work!

Hans van Roon said...

Sorry Steven. Repaired and thanks for the compliments,