Caravan + sara
“Join our caravan in this article to obtain interesting information about the caravanserais”
Caravanserai is a Persian word consisting of two words Caravan + Sara. “Caravans” are people and merchants traveling together with camels and their merchandise from cities to cities and the word “Sara” means house and refers to where the caravan spent the night like modern motels and inns.
Travel in the past
Iran is a large country, the distances between places and cities are too long and Iran has been a crossroad for caravans trading since ancient time. They did not have modern transportation in the past, therefore people and caravans needed some safe places to rest, sleep and eat because traveling during the night was not safe, and sometimes it could take up to 6 months to travel to the destination. Caravans had valuable merchandise such as silk, gems and etc. so safety was always an important issue.
Bridge between East and West
Iran has always been the bridge between East and West in trade and culture with access to open water from the south, Persian Gulf. This has caused special attention from the countries around and on the northern borders of Iran. The strategical location of Iran had advantages and disadvantages. Caravans passing through brought goods from the world and also different cultures and Iranian culture also expanded. This vital position was also a reason for numerous invasions especially when the central government was weak or a new government was forming.
During Safavid dynasty, with the reopening of the Silk Road by Shah Abbas, Safavid dynasty restored the old caravansaries and built new caravansaries. The government supported the caravans. The trade using the caravans required more roads and accommodations and the government provided security.
Caravanserais had many functions in Iran in the past. Sometimes merchants in the caravansaries bought and sold their goods. Caravanserai plan is usually rectangular or square with a huge portal entrance and rooms around the central courtyard. wind catchers, water storages, and fireplaces were used in some of the caravanserais.
The rules and Manzel
At night after sunset, the gate was closed due to security and if the caravans arrived at the inn after this time, they should stay behind a closed gate and should remain outside the rest of the night. Therefore, the caravans set off early in the morning in order to arrive at next caravanserai before sunset.
The distance between one caravanserai to the next is a specified distance. Distance is about 25 km. With this standard distance, caravans could plan to arrive at the next caravan at an appropriate time and used the caravanserai to measure the distance between cities. For example, they said that the distance between Isfahan and Yazd is twelve caravanserais. The word used for this measurement was MANZEL (Persian word means house) instead of the caravanserai.
Today, many of these caravansaries have been left in ruins. While traveling on the main roads in Iran, the ancient roads, which are still being used as main roads, you can see the remnants of caravanserais beside the roads. Sometimes a wall or a pillar is the only remaining of the old caravanserai. Some of these old caravanserais have also been renovated and used as hotels and restaurants they have a warm and attractive atmosphere and are professionally renovated. When you go into these caravansaries, you will feel that you have traveled in history. I suggest you try at least one of them go inside and enjoy the atmosphere!