Under visitors’ eyes: Centuries-old Zeinodin Caravanserai

February 23, 2017

TEHRAN - For some visitors to Iran staying at or even a short visit to a caravanserai seems to be a must. The 16th-century Zeinodin Caravanserai, which is tastefully renovated, is amongst such time-honored roadside inns.

The caravanserai is situated on the Silk Road which used to be the main trade route between Europe and Asia. The building accommodates over 50 tourists daily.

In earlier centuries, it was reached after a two-day camel ride from south of Yazd, about 60 kilometers on the main road to Kerman. Nowadays, while traveling by cars the sole mudbrick structure can be missed it in the blink of an eye.

Exquisitely laid out with cozy bedrooms around a central courtyard, the place can easily evoke feelings of living in the past. One can imagine hustle and bustle of the merchants selling their goods, bargaining on prices and describing their long journey to one another while their quadrupeds chew on hay and stock up on needed water.

The earliest caravanserais in Persia were constructed in Achaemenid era (550–330 BC) largely for several economic and military purposes.

However, the golden age of caravanserais in the country dates back to Safavid period (1501–1736), paved the way for Iranian merchandise to be exported to European countries in the West and China and India in the East.

                                         An interior view of the 16th-century Zeinodin Caravanserai depicts bedrooms encircling a central courtyard.

The term Caravanserai is derived from the word ‘caravan’ meaning group of passengers traveling together and ‘serai’ meaning house and place.

Here is a select of comments that visitors to the caravanserai have posted to TripAdvisor, one of the most popular travel websites in the world:

'A truly exotic stay!’

This shouldn't be seen as a stopover but as a destination in itself. There are no private bathrooms and the facilities are pretty basic. But the place is right out of a movie set- except its real. The food is outstanding and make sure you get up early in the morning or in the evening to catch the sunrise and sunset. This place was one of the best experience I had in Iran. (Andy Pubah form Singapore; stayed May 2016)

‘Great experience in the middle of nowhere’

Simply amazing! Being a basic place, the place has all the things you need to a great experience. Even the food, probably the weak point in Iran, was tasty and good. The staff also is so friendly. Absolutely recommended! (Dosounds form Vietnam; stayed Dec. 2016)

‘Visit and dinner - did not stay overnight’

An interesting place, beautifully laid out with bedrooms around the central courtyard, also other simpler sleeping areas off the courtyard. An interesting insight into how early people travelled - but of course we were doing it in style! A large dining area is to the rear with an excellent buffet of hot and cold dishes.

This is not the place I would choose to simply call into for a one night stay and then move on - it deserves more. I would say that as a minimum one should arrive early afternoon, maybe have lunch, then relax and eventually enjoy a sun set over the desert from the easily accessed roof.

At night this area has so little light pollution that photographing the stars is no problem. (Signum32 from the UK; stayed Oct. 2016)

‘A great stay for the curious traveler’

Stayed here for one night, and loved it. Very authentic feeling, the desert all around, the open roof. It really helps set the mood for thinking about the Silk Road.

Nice hot showers, and the beds are pretty comfy, just if you are sensitive to hard beds, I would bring something to use as padding. (Michelle N. from Australia; stayed Nov.  2016)

AFM/MG

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