This half-fallen caravanserai – or waystation along a trade route – is located on the old path between Harran and Suayip Sehri. Built in the twelfth century, the inn saw a relatively short lifetime: during the Mongol invasion a century later, it was badly damaged and relegated to use as a simple stable.
Caravanserais were a mixture of roadside rest stop and inn and once served as a great help to travelers and trade convoys, providing a sheltered and protected area to stop during a long journey. The name “han” comes from the Persian “khan” (also commonly used in Arabic); “caravanserai” comes from a Persian word meaning “caravan palace”, modified with a Turkish ending.
Though caravanserais could range a great deal in size and level of luxury, their typical structure is easily recognizable in Han al-Barur: the grounds consist of a square outer wall enclosing an open courtyard with rooms and stables lining its sides to house the travelers and their animals. Though Han al-Barur is not an especially grand or ornate building, the scale of its mostly still-standing walls suggests that the caravanserai’s large structure could have housed quite a number of people.
Similar to today’s travel rest stops, Han al-Barur offered enterprising residents of the area an opportunity to make a living selling accommodations and services to travelers passing through or bartering these services for the exotic trade goods carried in from afar. The presence of established inns like these promoted safety and facilitated the flow of people, goods, and knowledge along major trade routes around the world.
Han al-Barur’s name comes from an Arabic phrase meaning “goat manure inn.” This may derive from the structure’s later downgrade in prestige to an animal pen, but a local legend traces the name to a cryptic remark made by the caravanserai’s builder, Hussam al-Din Ali Bey ibn Issa: “After me, they will fill this inn with goat manure.”