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The interior of the Caravanserai of Saʿd al-Saltaneh in Qazvin, Iran.
The view from the courtyard of the Shah Abbas Caravanserai, now a hotel, in Isfahan, Iran.
Plan of a Safavid caravanserai

Alternative forms[edit]


From Persian کاروانسرای ‎(kârvânserây), from کاروان ‎(kârvân, caravan) + سرای ‎(sarây, courtyard; dwelling; palace).



caravanserai ‎(plural caravanserais)

  1. A roadside inn having a central courtyard where caravans can rest.
    • 1990, Peter Hopkirk, The Great Game, Folio Society 2010, p. 48:
      Eight days later, after leaving the desert and riding through neatly tended villages and snow-capped mountain scenery, he arrived there, hiring himself a room in a caravanserai near the bazaar.
  2. A home or shelter for caravans.




  • Hillenbrand, Robert. 1994. Islamic Architecture: Form, function and meaning. NY: Columbia University Press. (see Chapter VI for an in depth overview of the caravanserai).
  • Sims, Eleanor. 1978. Trade and Travel: Markets and Caravanserais.' In: Michell, George. (ed.). 1978. Architecture of the Islamic World - Its History and Social Meaning. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd, 80-111.
  • Yavuz, Aysil Tükel. 1997. The Concepts that Shape Anatolian Seljuq Caravanserais. In: Gülru Necipoglu (ed). 1997. Muqarnas XIV: An Annual on the Visual Culture of the Islamic World. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 80-95. Available online as a PDF document, 1.98 MB