Iran Caravanserais

Iran Caravanserais (UNESCO)

In the forty-fifth session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Iran succeeded in inscribing 54 Iran Caravanserais in 26 provinces, from the Sassanids (224 CE-651) to the Qajar period (1789-1925), on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Most Iranian caravanserais were built along the Silk Road, as one of the main trade routes between the East and West. Caravanserai means house for caravans (group of travelers).

The Silk Road with about 8000 km long was the longest and oldest route in the world. As the most important route in the world, it connected the East of Asia into Europe and Africa through Iran.
The main Silk Road reached Mashhad from two routes. The North one passed from Marv to Sarakhs and Tous, and the South one came from Haraat. It went from Mashhad to Neyshabour, Azadvaar, Jovein Plain, Jajarm, and Bastaam, passing the north of the desert into Damqan, Semnan, and Rey. It was separated from Rey into two routes again. The South one went to Hamadan (Ekbatan), Passing the Zagros Mountain Ranges into Kangavar, Kermanshah, Qasreshirin, Bagdad, and the Mediterranean Sea. The North one, passing through the Alborz Mountain ranges, went to Tabriz, passing from the north of Lake Urmia, Arzrom, and Trabzon Port, and proceeded through the Black Sea to Europe.
In different eras after Islam, some other routes were added to the main Silk Road. One of them was the road used by the Muslim Pilgrims to Mecca. The other was the passenger route to India which has been known as the Spice Road. The glory of developing Iran caravanserais along the roads was in the Safavid Dynasty in the 16th century A.D. Shah Abbas I ordered the building of 999 caravansaries between and inside the cities to provide facilities for caravans, pilgrims, and other travelers. The development of caravansaries continued during the Qajar Dynasty too, but during the Pahlavis Dynasty, they became useless because of building the railroads and asphalt roads. Nowadays, some caravansaries, managed by the private sector, are used as accommodation, restaurants, and other services to tourists.

Persian caravanserais were roadside inns, usually built on a square or triangular plan around a big yard with one entrance, and two floors with corridors and rooms. There are also exceptions, like caravanserais with two entrances both in front and in one side wall, without interior yard, or the caravanserai with a round plan. The number of iwans could vary between two and four. Caravans could keep their animals like camels and horses in the caravanserais. The first floor was usually used as lodging and the second floor as rooms for travelers.


Some of the Most Famous Caravansaries in Iran

Shah-Abbasi Caravanserai in Isfahan (Hotel), Deyregachin Caravanserai in Qom (the Mother of Caravansaries), Miandasht Caravanserai in Meyamey (the greatest and the most complete caravanserai), Zeynoddin Caravanserai in the South of Yazd Province (the rectangular shaped caravanserai), Robaat-e Sharaf near Sarakhs (the masterpiece of break-works in the world), Bisotun Caravanserai in Kermanshah Province (Hotel), Kharanaq Caravanserai in Yazd Province (eco-camp), Khanat Caravanserai in Tehran (Restaurant), Sadolsaltaneh Caravanserai in Qazvin (bazaar and restaurant), Shah-Abbasi Caravanserai in Neyshabour (Precious stone bazaar), Babaqodrat Caravanserai in Mashhad (Restaurant), Maranjab Caravanserai near Aran-o-Bidgol (eco-camp in desert), Dehnamak Caravanserai near Garmsaar (eco-camp and restaurant), Lasjerd Caravanserai near Semnan (eco-camp and restaurant), Khajeh-Nazar Caravanserai near Jolfa (eco-camp), Madar-Shah Caravanserai near Isfahan, Veyrani Robaat near Mashhad, Ahovan Stone Robaat near Semnan, Qasre-Bahram and Eynorrashid Caravanserais in National park of Iran desert, Pasangan Caravanserai in Qom, Toroq Robaat in Mashhad, Kalmard Caravanserai in Tabas, Gougad Citadel in Golpayegan, Abbasi Caravanserai in Karaj, Shah-Abbasi Caravanserai in Sabzevar, Mirza-Abolhasan Caravanserai in the great bazaar of Tabriz, Bazaar Caravanserai in Hamadan, Izadkhast Caravanserai in Fars province, etc.

8 Best Caravanserais in Iran to Stay

Abbasi Hotel, Isfahan

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Abbasi Caravanserai was built in 1695 under the command of King Sultan Husayn in the Safavid Dynasty. He donated the mansion to his mother. Remarkably, about 150 prominent artists of Isfahan have been putting effort into making it a magnificent historical place. Abbasi Hotel is the oldest hotel in Iran. This 300-year-old mansion is one of the greatest architectural phenomena of Isfahan. It is not just a hotel, it is a treasury of the architectural art and unique subtlety of the Isfahani artists, a museum of the most original and most beautiful pieces of art.

Moshir Caravanserai, Yazd

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Moshir Caravanserai Hotel in the city of Yazd was built by Fathullah Mushir al-Mamalek during the time of Muzaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar in the ancient city of Yazd. Dating back to 150 years ago, its reconstruction finished in 1996 and was inscribed on Iran’s National List and inaugurated in 1997. This caravanserai which was once a safe place for tired travelers and caravans, has been converted into a beautiful traditional hotel with modern facilities. Its good location, near Dolatabad Garden (one of the nine Persian Gardens on the UNESCO list), Amir Chakhmaq Square, and Khan Bazaar of Yazd, has made it popular among tourists who travel to Iran.

Zein O Din Caravanserai, Yazd

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Want to experience a stay like an old traveler in the heart of the desert? Then, you can choose Zein-o-Din Caravanserai. This historical caravansarai dates back to the Safavid era and is located in the 60th kilometer of Yazd, near Mehriz Town. One of the best advantages of staying at this caravanserai is that you can enjoy the mysterious and dreamy night sky of the desert.
Zein-o-Din Caravanserai is the only circle caravanserai in Iran. From the outside, you are only able to see a rounded shape, but from the inside, it is actually a dodecagon. To renovate this valuable monument, they used natural materials from the surrounding area to preserve its authenticity. As one of the best-renovated buildings, it was awarded the prize from UNESCO in 2006.

Yam Caravanserai, Tabriz

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The Yam caravanserai, dating back to the Mongol and Safavid periods, was built along the Silk Road on the transit route between Iran and Europe. It has always been considered one of the most important transit structures in different historical periods. The Yam caravanserai, built in an area with a mild climate and a beautiful landscape where the nomad tribe’s summer camps are located, has been known as caravanserai Shah Abbāsi among the people and is cited as caravanserai Yām Ilkhanide in the history books.
This structure has a large central courtyard with 4 iwans has the appearance of a vestibule, a high portal, one gonbadkhāne, some rooms, and an iwan adjacent to the courtyard for caravaners’ accommodation. Today, this historic place, after being rebuilt and restored, has turned into a hotel.


Bistoon Laleh Caravanserai

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As an ancient city, Bistoon is located 2 km east of Kermanshah province. The exceptional condition of Mount Bistoon (that is the famous relief of Darius, the Achaemenid king) has led many to call it the Zagros Gate. The city is host to Bistoon Caravasary, also known as Shah Abbas Caravanserai, as it was built on the orders of King Abbas I during the Safavid era. Like other caravansaries in Iran, Bistoon is built in the foursquare style having four towers at the corners. The west side towers are circular and the east side ones are hexagonal. For the time being, Laleh International Hotel serves travelers in Bistoon Caravanserai.

Kuhpa Caravanserai

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Being around 400 years old, Shah Abbasi Caravanserai in Varzaneh is one of the 999 ones that were built under the command of Shah Abbas I during the Safavid Empire. Kouhpa Caravanserai is now actively providing guests with a traditional Persian ambiance. This place gives you an impressionable and indescribable sense of ancient times as if you are traveling in history. You can find the place on the eastern exit road of Varzaneh and to be exact 74 km on Naeen road. As the main feature of Iran caravanserais, the inn has a central yard surrounded by rooms and four porches. Barns for the housing of travelers’ animals are behind the rooms around the building. In the exterior view of the caravanserai, four tall towers can be observed in the corners and three towers in the middle of the walls.

Vakil Caravanserai (Karavanica Hotel)

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This double-story traditional caravansary is located in the Vakil Bazaar of Kerman. Its construction began under the orders of Mohammad Esmail Khan Vakil-ol-Molk and was completed in the times of Morteza Qoli Khan in the year 1287 AH. Eighty-one chambers were constructed on the ground floor, and thirty-nine on the upper floor. The structure is adorned with plaster and tile works. This hotel includes 57 rooms, a restaurant complex, a tea house, commercial spaces, and a lobby.

Maranjab Caravanserai

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Maranjab Caravanserai is situated 50 kilometers northeast of Aran and Bidgol and on the southwestern edge of the Maranjab National Desert Park. The route from Aran and Bidgol to Maranjab follows an ancient path connecting Isfahan to Kashan, Yazd, Mashhad, and Tehran – a route frequented by numerous desert travelers. Maranjab Caravanserai is situated in the “Band Rig” region, one of Iran’s renowned and largest sand dunes. In the past, this area was a passage for permanent and seasonal rivers and waterways. Now, the floods are no more, and Band Rig adorns itself with a beautiful springtime vegetation cover. Furthermore, when sand dunes move due to wind, a unique spectacle is created. Maranjab Caravanserai offers various amenities for visitors, including a guesthouse, a restaurant, and desert tour services. Tourists can immerse themselves in the rich history and stunning desert landscapes while enjoying modern comforts.

‘’ The world is a caravanserai, with one entry and one exit ‘’

Omar Khayyam

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