Ağzıkara Han (caravanserai)
Ağzıkara Han village, 15 km northeast of Aksaray on the Konya–Kayseri road, Turkey, Ağzıkarahan, Aksaray, Turkey
Covered section: hegira Sha‘ban 628 / June 1231; courtyard: hegira Sha‘ban 637 / February 1240
Hoca Mesud [Mas‘ud], son of Abdullah [‘Abd Allah].
Ağzıkara Han, which consists of an open courtyard and a covered section, is an important example of the caravanserais with a courtyard from the Anatolian Seljuq period. The building's core structure is of rubble bound with mortar, while the entirety of its walls, buttresses, vaults, arches and piers are faced with fine, dressed stone. The corner towers and high, thick walls are supported by buttresses. The upper levels of the façades have slit-like windows (embrasures). The courtyard is entered through a portal on the north side, in whose west wall two fountains have been installed back to back.
The courtyard has an almost square layout with iwans. Both the west part of the entrance-iwan and one section of the west side have double porticoes, while the south side and the south section of the west wall have covered rooms. In the middle of the east side of the courtyard is the portal leading into the covered section.
In the centre of the courtyard is a kiosk-masjid, which sits on top of a square baldachin formed of four piers connected by pointed arches. The masjid is accessed by a double staircase on its east side. The interior of the masjid, a square plan, measures 4 m x 4 m and is surmounted by a dome rising on squinches decorated with muqarnas. A fountain said to have once existed below is no longer extant.
The covered section of the caravanserai is rectangular, almost square. It has a main aisle running east to west flanked with six vaulted aisles perpendicularly, extending north and south. A lantern dome over the main aisle is, like the dome in the kiosk mosque, supported on squinches filled with muqarnas.
Ağzıkara Han's inner and outer portals show similarities of design and ornament and are decorated with geometric motifs. The mihrab of the kiosk-masjid also features assorted rosettes.
While Anatolian Seljuq caravanserais usually have the respective entrance portals to their courtyards and to their covered sections situated on the same axis, in this structure the courtyard portal has been placed off to the side. The building and the masjid in its courtyard are rare and unusual examples of Anatolian architecture.
The Ağzıkarahan caravanserai was commissioned by Hoca Mesud in the reign of Sultan Alaaddin Keykubad and is located on the main commercial Konya–Kayseri route in Anatolia that bridges Asia and Europe. An important example of Anatolian Seljuq caravanserais with courtyards, the structure comprises a courtyard and a covered section. It has the look of a stronghold with its thick, high walls reinforced by corner towers and buttresses. This caravanserai is one of the few in Anatolia to have a masjid rising on a baldachin in the middle of its open courtyard.
There are foundation inscriptions on the portals of the covered section and the courtyard. These indicate that the covered section was built in the reign of Sultan Alaaddin Keykubad, in Sha'ban 628 (June 1231), while the courtyard was built in the reign of Sultan Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev [Ghiyath al-Din Kay Khusraw] II, in Sha'ban 637 (February 1240), by Mesud, son of Abdullah.
Erdmann, K., Das Anatolischer Karavansaray des 13. Jahrhunderts, Katalog, Berlin, 1961.
Ersoy, B., “Witness of the Past: Caravanserais”, in Along Ancient Trade Routes: Seljuk Caravanserais and Landscapes in Central Anatolia, Belgium, 1996, pp.50–78.
Konyalı, İ. H., Abideleri ve Kitabeleriyle Niğde Aksaray Tarihi I [History of Niğde Aksaray, with Monuments and Inscriptions I], Istanbul, 1974.
Kuyulu, İ. “Anadolu Selçuklu Kervansarayları ile Orta Asya Kervansaraylarının Karşılaştırılmasına Yönelik Bir Deneme [An Attempt to Compare the Anatolian Seljuq Caravanserais and the Central Asian Caravanserais]”, Sanat Tarihi Dergisi, VIII (1996), pp.51–79.
özgüç, T., and Akok, M., “Ağzıkara Han”, Yıllık Araştırmalar Dergisi [Annual Journal of Research] I (1957), pp.93–104.
İnci Kuyulu Ersoy "Ağzıkara Han (caravanserai)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. 2019. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;tr;Mon01;6;en
Prepared by: İnci Kuyulu Ersoyİnci Kuyulu Ersoy
İnci Kuyulu Ersoy is Head of Western and Contemporary Art, Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir. She was born in Nazilli, Turkey, in 1957. She graduated from TED Ankara College in 1976 and from Hacettepe University, Social and Management Sciences Faculty, Department of History of Art in 1980. She received her MA in 1982 and her Ph.D. in 1989 from Ankara University, Faculty of Linguistics and History-Geography, Department of Art History.
She was appointed as research assistant to the Department of Art History, Ege University. She became assistant professor in 1989, associate professor in 1994 and full professor in 2000 at the same university. She is also Head of Turkish Art History at the Institute for Research on the Turkic World. She has researched and published widely on Turkish art.
Translation by: Barry WoodBarry Wood
Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions., İnci Türkoğluİnci Türkoğlu
İnci Türkoğlu has been working as a tourist guide and freelance consultant in tourism and publishing since 1993. She was born in Alaşehir, Turkey, in 1967. She graduated from the English Department of Bornova Anatolian High School in 1985 and lived in the USA for a year as an exchange student. She graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, and the professional tourist guide courses of the Ministry of Tourism in 1991. She worked as an engineer for a while. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, in 1997 with an undergraduate thesis entitled “Byzantine House Architecture in Western Anatolia”. She completed her Master's at the Byzantine Art branch of the same department in 2001 with a thesis entitled “Synagogue Architecture in Turkey from Antiquity to the Present”. She has published on art history and tourism.
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: TR 06
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Ottomans | Turkish-Islamic Art in Pre-Ottoman Anatolia
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