Monumental entrance of the Sultan Han
|Architectural style||Seljuk architecture|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Muhammed Bin Havlan El Dimaski|
Sultan Han is a large Seljuk Caravanserai located in the town of Sultanhanı, Aksaray Province, Turkey. It is one of the three monumental caravanserais in the neighbourhood of Aksaray and is located about 40 km (25 mi) west of Aksaray on the road to Konya.
This fortified structure was built in 1229 (dated by inscription), during the reign of the Seljuk sultan Kayqubad I, by the Syrian architect Muhammed Bin Havlan El Dimaski (Dimaski meaning from Damascus) along the trade route from Konya to Aksaray, leading to Persia (the Uzun Yolu). After it was partially destroyed by a fire, it was restored and extended in 1278 by the governor Seraceddin Ahmed Kerimeddin bin El Hasan during the reign of the sultan Kaykhusraw III. This monumental caravanserai then became the largest in Turkey. It is one of the best examples of Anatolian Seljuk architecture.
The Sultanhanı is entered at the east, through a pishtaq, a 13-m-high gate made from marble, which projects from the front wall (itself 50 m wide). The pointed arch enclosing the gate is decorated with muqarnas corbels and a geometrically patterned plaiting. This main gate leads into a 44 x 58 m open courtyard that was used in the summer. A similarly decorated archway on the far side of the open courtyard, with a muqarnas niche, joggled voussoirs and interlocking geometric designs, leads to a covered courtyard (iwan), which was for winter use. The central aisle of the covered hall has a barrel-vaulted ceiling with transverse ribs, with a short dome-capped tower over the center of the vault. The dome has an oculus to provide air and light to the hall.
A square stone kiosk-mosque (köşk mescidi), the oldest example in Turkey, is located in the middle of the open courtyard. A construction of four carved barrel-vaulted arches supports the mosque on the second floor. Stables with accommodation above were located in the arcades on both sides of the inner courtyard.
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