CARAVANSERAIS AND SARUHAN (SARIHAN)
Whirling Dervishes ceremonies are performed in Sarihan Caravanserai everynight, but what is a caravanserai?
Trade across Turkey in medieval Seljuk times was dependent on camel trains (kervan, anglicised as caravan), which stopped by night in inns known as kervansaray (caravanserai), literally ‘caravan palaces’. These buildings provided accommodation and other amenities for the merchants and stabling for their animals.
During the reign of the Anatolian Seljuk sultans Kilicarslan II (1155-1192) and Alaaddin Keykubat I (1220-1237), a large number of kervansarays were built and security measures along the Silkroad and other trade roads increased. The state not only built kervansarays but compensated merchants who were attacked or robbed, so providing a kind of insurance system. As a result, both domestic and international trade expanded. Foreign merchants who came to Anatolia enjoyed extensive rights and reductions on customs duties.
All merchants of whatever nationality were provided with food and beverages free of charge for three days. Their shoes were repaired and new shoes were given to the poor. Treatment was available for the sick, animals were cared for and shoed if necessary. Each kervansaray employed a physician, imam (priest), inn keeper, superintendent of provisions, veterinary surgeon, blacksmith and cook to provide these services.
The caravanserais of Cappadocia were built of hewn volcanic stone, and their walls were thick and high so that they would be safe from raids by robbers. Decoration was concentrated on the great portals which display the finest examples of Seljuk stone carving. The portal doors were made of iron to repel intruders.
Sarihan, situated 15 km from Goreme, on the east of Avanos, is on the banks of the Damsa . It faces west, and consists of an indoor area with five naves and a courtyard. Sari Han is considered to have been built in 1249. It had a Turkish bath and a mesjid over the gatehouse and its external area (excluding the towers and portal) is 2,000 square meters. After the restoration process, it represents the best example of Anatolian caravanserais.
Whirling Dervishes ceremonies start at 9:00 pm in winter and 9:30 pm in summer everynight. The whole ceremony takes around one hour and we offer ‘Serbet’, a religious drink, after the ceremony.
Yuki Tour Turkey picks you up from your hotel in Goreme or other towns of Cappadocia half an hour earlier, which will give you enough time to see the parts of the caravanserai prior to ceremony.