Saturday, December 19, 2009

Caravansary of Sa'd al-Saltaneh

The Caravansary of Sa'd al-Saltaneh (کاروانسرای سعد السلطنه) is a large caravansary located in the city of Qazvin. Covering an area of 6.2 hectares, it is the largest caravansary in Iran. The caravansary was purchased by the Cultural Heritage Organization in 1999 and subsequently renovated by the Cultural Heritage Department of the province.  

Located in the historical bazaar complex of Qazvin and built during the Qajar era, the caravansary is one of Persia's best preserved urban caravansaries. The caravansary was constructed during the dynasty of Nasereddin Shah under the supervision of Governor Bagher Khan Sa’d al-Saltaneh for whom the caravansary is named after. The caravansary is reminiscent of Iranian private sector commercial development that featured trade with Europe via Russia during the Qajar era. It was considered a main commercial center during this period.  

The caravansary is built on a square plan, has 4 balconies facing a courtyard. The main entrance of the caravansary is on Imam Street in Qazvin. A beautiful vestibule connects the entrance to the main yard of the structure that is surrounded with chambers decorated with little verandas. Behind the eastern chambers, there lies the large warehouse as well as Sadieh Bathhouse.  

The hujrehs, or the rooms for the travelers, are situated one meter above the courtyard ground level. The hallway behind the southern balcony has the largest dome, with 4 semi-domes adjacent to it.  

The eastern-western axis of the hallway is called Dalan’e Qeisariyeh or "Caesar's Hall", and the north-south axis of the Caravansary's hallway is named Dalan’e Ghahremani or "Ghahremani Hall". The former is connected to the "Bazaar of Vizir" of the city. There are also two smaller courtyards in the east and west of the caravansary.  

At the southern end of the yard, the caravansary intersects with its traditional commercial chambers presenting the unique traditional architecture of Qazvin. A large dome is placed on top of the intersection with 4 half-domes on its four sides decorated with beautiful tile work. Sadieh Bazaar is located in the western part of the structure, beginning from the main bazaar of Qazvin “Vazir,” stretching to Masjed al-Nabi, and other sections including the Razavi Bathhouse, the Beheshtian Caravansary and the Haj Molla Agha Mosque.  The historical structure lost its brisk market due to several political and economic changes over time with businessmen gradually abandoning their stores. 


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