News ID: 319404
Published: 1118 GMT January 15, 2022

Zeinoddin Caravanserai: A massive round construction in Yazd Province

Zeinoddin Caravanserai: A massive round construction in Yazd Province

If you love travel, one of your main concerns might be overnight accommodations. In the past, caravanserais (ancient Persian roadside inns) functioned as hotels for travelers.

Generally, they were rectangular in plan. Zeinoddin Caravanserai, however, located in Mehriz, some 65km north of Yazd, in the central province of Yazd, has a round structure, wrote.

The caravanserai is one of only two circular caravanserais in Iran. For the most part, the caravanserai was built to serve as a venue for the meeting between Shah Abbas Safavid king (1571-1629 CE) and Zeinoddin Ganjali Khan, the governor of Kerman. So, it must have been quite something.


Ancient Persian caravanserais


These days, travelling has become popular among people. Similarly, in the past, people would travel and explore. Back then, caravanserais served as hotels for passengers by supplying them with meals and lodging. They would even meet their guests’ trading and transportation needs. Traditionally, a caravanserai was a massive construction with several main or auxiliary structures. Particularly, each structure fulfilled certain functions. Perhaps these ancient hotels also received stars based on the quality of their services. So they attempted to include any structural element that would satisfy the guests better.


History of Safavid caravanserais


Several Persian dynasties established caravanserais as welfare service establishments throughout history. However, caravanserais reached their pinnacle during the Safavid Era (1501-1736 CE). Rumor has it that Shah Abbas I had a nightmare about the world ending in 1591 CE. So, he was afraid that the world would end and he could not resume his reign. Consequently, he made a vow to construct several inns for travelers. Some years later he constructed 1,000 caravanserais as his nightmare did not come true.

Later, he decided number 999 better represents the significance of his accomplishment. Actually, he believed number 999 is more mouth-filling and impressive than 1,000. As a result, he ordered the destruction of one caravanserai. Over time, many of these Shah Abbasi caravanserais were destroyed. Only 54 out of 999 were left, 25 of which were restored.


Exterior of the caravanserai


The first thing that will stand out in your visit to Zeinoddin Caravanserai is the circular plan of the caravanserai. First, you will behold a gate and five semi-circular towers, which are attached to eight-meter-high walls. The main entrance gate is in the south of the castle. One tower stands opposite the gate, two towers appear in the east, while two others appear in the west. The main highlight of the caravanserai is the symmetrical architecture of the structure.


Interior of the caravanserai


Let’s enter the caravanserai to gain an impression of the structures inside. Once you walk in the caravanserai, you will find yourself in a hashti (a space behind the gate). Two wooden doors in the east and west sides of the hashti open up to two corridors, which used to be stables. Astounding termeh (Persian handwoven cloth) curtains adorn these arch corridors. Pass through the hashti into the central yard. The yard features twelve sides, each of which is named after an Imam (an Islamic leader). Riwaqs (arcades) with platforms surround the yard and lead to shahneshin (VIP accommodations) and, subsequently, octagonal chambers. In the middle of the yard lies a pond, which is the main source of the water supply in the caravanserai.

Luxurious shahneshin chambers were designed for accommodating the king, merchants and officials. Of course, the caravanserai ensured full security of these VIP chambers. Moreover, these luxurious rooms enjoyed the most subtle and eye-catching interior design in Zeinoddin Caravanserai. Two large octagonal chambers with domes and four smaller rooms stand behind the shahneshin. Furthermore, a wind tower stands to the north of shahneshin, which directs the cool wind into the construction. On the other hand, common people or companions of the king stayed in ordinary chambers.


Desert sky gazing


Two staircases on the sides of the yard lead to the roof of the caravanserai, where sky gazing enthusiasts can appreciate the breathtaking desert sky, coupled with the silence of the night and the charm of the desert covered with sand.


Attractions near Caravanserai


Sar Yazd Castle, located in Mehriz, is one of the oldest and most valuable castles in Iran. It is also the only well-preserved three-story historical attraction in Yazd Province. Moreover, Pahlavanpour Garden in Mehriz is an extraordinary example of an Iranian garden in the middle of the desert. Also, the 2,000-year-old Mangabad cypress is a natural attraction nearby.


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