TEHRAN — On Friday, a Safavid-era (1501-1736) Shah Abbasi caravanserai in the northeast city of Neyshabur hosted an evening of poetry.
Pieces of Iranian Maqami music and local dances were also performed on the sidelines of the event, Neyshabur tourism chief Saeid Daghestani said on Saturday.
Caravanserai is a compound word combining “caravan” with “serai”; the first represents a group of travelers and the second designates the building. They often had massive portals supported by raised load-bearing walls. Guest rooms were built around the courtyard and stables behind them with doors in the corners of the courtyard.
The first caravanserais in Iran were built in the Achaemenid period (550 -330 BC). Centuries later, when Shah Abbas I took power from 1588 to 1629, he ordered the construction of a network of caravanserais across the country.
For many travelers to Iran, staying or even visiting a centuries-old caravanserai can be a great experience; they have the opportunity to feel the past, a time travel to a forgotten era.
These roadside inns were once built along ancient caravan routes in the Muslim world to house people, their belongings and their animals. The ancient Silk Roads are perhaps the most famous example dotted with caravanserais.
Cozy rooms meticulously arranged around a vast courtyard can easily evoke the spirits of the past. It is not hard to imagine the bustle of merchants negotiating over prices, recounting their arduous journeys to each other while their camels chew hay! You can also design the idea of the local architectural style and materials at its peak.
It is not hard to imagine the bustle of merchants negotiating over prices, recounting their arduous journeys to each other while their camels chew hay!
Passing through the main roads of the country, one can see ruined caravanserais, many of which have been abandoned for ages. In the information age, these guesthouses have largely lost their actual use.
However, a few years ago Iran’s Ministry of Tourism introduced a program to keep them alive and profitable; dozens of caravanserais are sold to private investors for better maintenance. Today, some are exclusively renovated and converted into boutique hotels and tourist accommodation.
They often had massive portals supported by raised load-bearing walls. Guest rooms were built around the courtyard and stables behind them with doors in the corners of the courtyard.