Restoration work begins on Shah Abbasi caravanserai

July 1, 2022 - 19:0

TEHRAN – The Safavid era (1501-1736) Shah Abbasi caravanserai in the ancient town of Meybod, the central province of Yazd, has undergone some rehabilitation works, Meybod’s tourism chief has said. 

The project involves repairing the damaged parts of the historic inn, including the rooftop, porches, and flooring, Mehrdad Zolfaqari explained on Friday. 

The caravanserai, which is on the shortlist of traditional inns that Iran pursues its possible inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage, serves as a handicrafts market, the official added. 

The historical inn has four porches (iwans), a central courtyard, traditional ice storage (yakhchal), a cistern, and some 100 rooms for travelers. 

It has been inscribed on the national heritage list. 

Shah Abbasi caravanserai of Meybod is one of nine caravanserais from Yazd province being considered for possible inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage list of Iranian historical caravanserais.

Saryazd, Zeineddin, Qaleh Khargushi, and Kermanshahan are among the selected caravanserais, scattered across the province, each characterizing a distinctive feature. 

According to UNESCO, Meybod is a remarkable example of the viability and transmission of human beings’ collective thoughts from different generations to the present one. “What is significant in the city of Meybod is the regularity in city planning. The anatomy and spatial structure of the city show original plans which conform with the old Iranian city planning.”

Caravanserai is a compound word combining “caravan” with “serai”; the former stands for a group of travelers and the latter means the building. They often had massive portals supported by elevated load-bearing walls. Guest rooms were constructed around the courtyard and stables behind them with doors in the corners of the yard.

Iran’s earliest caravanserais were built during the Achaemenid era (550 -330 BC). Centuries later, when Shah Abbas I assumed power from 1588 – to 1629, he ordered the construction of a network of caravanserais across the country.

For many travelers to Iran, staying in or even visiting a centuries-old caravanserai, can be a wide experience; they have an opportunity to feel the past, a time travel back into a forgotten age.

Such roadside inns were once constructed along ancient caravan routes in the Muslim world to shelter people, their goods, and animals. The former Silk Roads may be the most famous example dotted by caravanserais.

Cozy chambers that are meticulously laid out around a vast courtyard may easily evoke spirits of the past. It’s not hard to fancy the hustle and bustle of merchants bargaining on prices, recounting their arduous journeys to one another while their camels chewing hay! You can also conceive the idea of local architectural style and material in its heyday.

It’s not hard to fancy the hustle and bustle of merchants bargaining on prices, recounting their arduous journeys to one another while their camels chewing hay!

Passing major roads in the country, one may see crumbling caravanserais many of which were abandoned for ages. In the Information Age, such guest houses have largely lost their actual usage.

However, a couple of years ago, the Iran tourism ministry introduced a scheme to keep them alive and profitable; tens of caravanserais are ceded to private investors for better maintenance. Now, some are exclusively renovated and repurposed into boutique hotels and tourist lodgings.

They often had massive portals supported by elevated load-bearing walls. Guest rooms were constructed around the courtyard and stables behind them with doors in the corners of the yard.

ABU/AFM 

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