We enter Sultanhani Caravanserai through this beautiful carved marble entrance which faces East. This caravanserai was built in 1229. After a fire, it was restored and extended in 1278 and became the biggest and best Caravanserai in Turkey.
Traveling the Silk Road, parts of it now preserved in Turkey, because of its historical importance, Usla knew I was excited about “…walking in the steps of Marco Polo.” He’d point to a caravanserai from a distance. “There’s one!” I could never spot them because I was trying to see a huge desert area surrounded by trees, a source of water and many bedouin tents set up to show what it must have been like to travel across huge stretches of hot sand, and take refuge with camels laden with goods in a safe spot for the night. Instead we entered a huge courtyard, with winter rooms on the left and summer rooms on the right.
To the right of the entrance, are summer kiosks where the merchant put forth his goods. The arches to the right of the kiosks is a Turkish bath. First, servants would come and unload the merchandise while the travelers bathed. The horses or camels were taken to a stable in the back of the building. To the immediate left of the entrance is a stairway leading to the top of the wall where guards patrolled. And huge rooms where the servants and travelers slept and had their meals and displayed their goods during winter months.
This painting shows what it was like, guards on the rim, travelers seeking refuge, not only merchants. The guards could signal with smoke signals from one caravanserai to another in the distance to know who was coming so they didn’t let in robbers who would lay in wait for a caravan and try to relieve them of their goods.
In the center is a small Mosque.
You entered the Mosque by this set of stairs, identical to the stairway leading up to the top of the walls.
The stables, a dark and foreboding place, lit by torch light and now electrified for tourists.
The rooms are now quite barren. Black smoked walls identify the kitchen area.
The cold marble does not exactly suggest comfort station to me. I think I’d prefer a tent. I didn’t see the W.C. But, according to others it is now a modern toilet unlike what it must have been with stone seats and a runnel. In my mind, I see Marco Polo, in awe of his surroundings as he traveled to China, and all over Asia, an epic 24 year journey, and back to Italy with Noodles, rugs, silks, porcelain, pearls, jade, jewels but most of all, a detailed history of the marvels of the world he visited.
We returned for dinner at our new hotel in Cappadocia, the Kapadokya Lykia Lodge. I swore I wasn’t going to picture another buffet, they are all so splendid, but this one outdid the others. This is one wing of the salad bar. Behind you can see a long dessert bar. Thirty three different desserts and Owen managed seven of them before his dinner.
We enjoyed multiple choices from huge chafing dishes, or a vegetarian bar, and a breakfast bar, omelets made to order, etc. available all hours. Overwhelming choices. But, enough.
Our evening optional tour brought us to another, smaller caravanserai to see the whirling dervishes. To the left is gift shop. The place had beautiful paintings of caravanas.
You can see how much smaller this courtyard is from the big one we saw. It has a fountain in the middle.
Inside a staging area surrounded on three sides by seating. The musicians enter first, you see them at the back of the room. The dervishes are dressed in black like the guide. They allow no pictures during their ritual. After the ritual, they perform for a few minutes for the camera. No words are spoken. No announcements made. This is how they start, heads bowed, arms crossed.
They begin circling with eyes open.
They begin circling with their eyes closed.
They whirl with arms in an upright position, never letting them down for about 13 minutes. They return to rest position for five minutes and then begin again in a trance like state for another 13 minutes. Then they return to rest state.
Then they silently file out of the staging area the same way they entered. No words are spoken, no eye contact made. They do not discuss their ritual and what it means to them. Norman saw a Dervish Ritual in Iran and said they came out with swords clashing and whirling. It was a “show”. This ritual is said to be the real thing, very pure form, nothing flashy. I was astounded that anyone can keep their arms in the air, and whirl dizzily with eyes closed for 13 minutes, without falling over or resting their arms. A truly amazing feat. Very subdued, but amazing. I can’t hold my arms up in the air for two minutes. I was totally impressed.