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CARAVANSERAI & HAN HOTELS

buyukkerWhile in Turkey one of the really special things that you can do is stay in one of the old Ottoman-era caravanserais (although, alas, not Selçuk ones) that litter the road everywhere from Edirne to Diyarbakır.

Appealing as the idea may be, these conversions have not always been entirely successful. Windowless rooms designed for hardened travellers don’t always lend themselves to the addition of private bathrooms, and the central courtyards tend to be a recipe for disturbance. In that sense some of the newer hans make better hotels.

Still, there aren’t that many places in the world where you can stay in buildings dating back to the 16th century, a real treat for romantics.

Otel Büyük Kervansaray, Diyarbakır

The very oldest caravanserai that is still accepting visitors today is the Great Caravanserai in Diyarbakır (Tel: 0412-228 9606). Also known as the Deliler Hanı (Han of the Madmen), this was built between 1521 and 1527 to serve both travellers on the Silk Road and pilgrims en route to Mecca. Rooms are a bit poky but with two huge courtyards, a restaurant and a pool, this is a place where you can holiday in style, albeit in a part of town, just a stone’s throw from the great basalt walls, where wondering around after dark might not be wise. In its heyday the caravanserai had stabling for 800 camels. Today’s guests must make do with kitsch statues of lions by the entrance.cesmeker

Çeşme Kervansaray Hotel

Built in 1528 and so virtually contemporary with the Büyük Kervansaray, the Çeşme Kervansaray (Tel: 0232-712 7177) sits rather oddly in what is now a seaside resort-cum-port town. The building has a certain grandeur to it and the hotel has been completed renovated to bring it in line with modern expectations of comfort.

edirkerHotel Rüstempaşa Kervansaray, Edirne

If you’re visiting Edirne to wonder at the great Ottoman architect Sinan’s masterpiece, the Selimiye Cami (mosque), how could you resist the opportunity to spend the night in another of his buildings, the Rüstempaşa Kervansaray (Tel: 0284-212 6119) which he built between 1560 and 1561 for Süleyman the Magnificent’s grand vizier Rüstempaşa? Again, it would be a mistake to expect the latest in mod cons, and some might find the rooms a little claustrophobic, but being right in the heart of the historic action and within hearing range of the call to prayer from the Selimiye Cami will more than make up for that for some.

Cinci Han, Safranbolu

Many years in the restoration, the Cinci Han (Tel: 0370-712 0680, www.cincihan.com) comes as a surprise in the heart of Safranbolu where people generally expect to stay in converted Ottoman houses. Built in 1640 as part of a complex that includes a hamam (Turkish bath) that is also still in business, the Cinci Han has an elongated courtyard which makes a peaceful refuge. Most of the rooms are comfortable, if a little small. The same is certainly not true of the hotel’s most prized asset, the Han Odası, a spectacularly large and beautifully decorated suite on the upper floor.divanank

Divan Çukurhan, Ankara

Newly opened next door to the Çengelhan Rahmi M. Koç Museum in the historic Hisar (Castle) part of Ankara, the Divan Çukurhan (Tel: 0312-306 6400, www.divan.com.tr) dates back to the end of the 16th or the early 17th century when the old caravanserai-han model was starting to evolve into something less fortress-like and more like a hotel. Built in a half-timbered style that is quite a novelty, it’s the one caravanserai hotel where luxury and mod cons come absolutely guaranteed in keeping with the Divan brand name.

Dülgeroğlu Hotel, Uşak

The Dülgeroğlu Hotel (Tel: 0276-227 3773, www.oteldulgeroglu.com), in undervisited Uşak, was designed by a French architect so that it gives off a vague whiff of Paris. By 1898 the hans had almost forgotten their origins as glorified stables-cum-warehouses and from the outside the Dülgeroğlu looks like any other grand late 19th-century building. Step inside and the central courtyard is a real giveaway. The rooms are high-ceilinged, light and extremely comfortable.

Now read the back story: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-271142-revisiting-the-hans-and-caravanserais-turkeys-caravanserai-hotels.html

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