Great for: Architecture, Caravanserai, Seljuk, Silk Road
Kayseri’s Sultanhanı has had the good fortune to be one of the more beautiful Seljuk caravanserais, to have not seen a great deal of damage by the passage of time, and to have been tastefully restored. All together this makes Sultanhanı one of the best caravanserais to visit to get a look at this unique aspect of the historic Silk Road.
Built in 1236 by Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat I (thus the name Sultanhanı, literally House of the Sultan). Sultanhanı was built with a typical Seljuk design consisting of two major sections. The first is a large courtyard with two wings on either side (one enclosed and the other open) and is reached through the one and only gateway. It is off of this courtyard that the baths are found built into the main construction rather than separate as was often the case in Ottoman caravanserais. The most notable feature of the courtyard is the kiosk style masjid (or small prayer room/mosque) set on four highly decorated arches. Look for the heads of a pair of twisting dragons at the peak of the arches.
The second part of the caravanserai is the massive closed hall that is entered through a grand doorway off of the courtyard. The dimly lit hall is made up by a central vault with wings on either side and capped by a typical Seljuk style dome; rounded on the inside and pointed on the outside.
What sets Sultanhanı above most other caravanserais is the high quality of the engravings that decorate the complex. Also, unlike most other caravanserais, visitors are allowed to climb the steep stairs up to the roof and get another angle of the beautiful structure.
How To Get There
While buses do pass by here on the road from Kayseri to Sivas, using coach buses to see Sultanhanı could be a bit challenging. Getting here by bus would be simple but catching one out again when you want to leave would be a bit harder.
If you’re taking a tour through here you could ask the guide or driver if they stop at the caravanserai. Many tour companies use these small towns as quick stop-over points.
As a car allows you to come and go again when you’re ready this is really the most convenient way to visit Sultanhanı. Along the D260 (AKA Kayseri – Sivas road) between Kayseri and Sivas, Sultanhanı is 46 km from the city of Kayseri.
When looking on your maps make sure to not get mixed up with Sultanhanı in Aksaray. Both have caravanserrais with the same design, name, and in towns called Sultanhanı making it very easy to get mixed up.
Where To Stay
Sultanhanı is best seen as a stopover between destinations rather than a place to spend the night. The village offers little if anything by way of accommodation. Like some of the other caravanserais in the country this too has apparently been used as a hotel though I didn’t see any sign that this was still the case when I was there.
If you’re going to put pictures of Sultanhanı on Google Maps, please don’t mix up the location with Sultanhanı of Aksaray which looks almost the same even though it’s in a completely different province, there’s enough wrong information on there as it is!
Have any tips or info to add? Spot any mistakes? We’d love to hear about it.