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Sharaf Caravanserai

Travelers’ Resting Place

Farzad Hosseinpour
2 minutes read

Sharaf Caravanserai is an exquisite and historically-important building in the middle of desert in Razavi Khorasan Province. The structure used to serve as a Persian caravanserai or resting place and commercial outpost for travelers. It was one of the main caravanserais built on the Silk Road during the reign of Seljuq ruler Sultan Sanjar in the 12 century.

Sharaf Caravanserai near Mashhad
Sharaf Caravanserai near Mashhad

Caravanserais are among the most significant forms of Iranian architectures. These resting places emerged on main trade routes to accommodate traveler’s demands and requirements. Sharaf Caravanseria consists of two courtyards. The rectangular courtyard with rooms set around served as the main resting place for travelers. The inner courtyard, however, was a more private space for the Sultan and other officials.

Caravanserais are an important form of Persian architecture.
Caravanserais are an important form of Persian architecture.

The building also features a reception hall, a mosque, a kitchen, and a water reservoir. Unlike other architectural masterpieces, Sharaf Caravanserai doesn’t boast intricate tile- or mirror-work. The building, however, flaunts various astounding geometric patterns of brick-work and Kufic inscriptions in stucco.

What you will find interesting about the caravanserai’s architecture is that each side of the building is a mirror copy of the other except the mosque. In fact, many researchers have called Sharaf Caravanserai a museum of art and architecture. Therefore, the historical site is definitely worth a visit. It is a 2-and-a-half hour drive from holy city of Mashhad.

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