Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

extends one hundred yards on each side of the square which it encloses. It is strongly built of fine brickwork, commonly based on stone, and is ornamented at the top. In the centre of the front walls is the entrance, a tall and spacious archway, over which are sometimes chambers crowned with superb domes. These form the places of honour. On each side, under the arched roof of the portico, are the keepers' rooms, and shops, where the commodities most required by travellers are sold. Passing through this archway, the spectator perceives a sort of piazza extending on every side of the interior of the quadrangle, leaving a spacious area in the middle. The arched recesses in the wall now appear to be apartments, divided from each other by walls, open in front, neatly paved, and sometimes possessing a fireplace, while compartments cut out in the thick wall serve as cupboards. A small door conducts to an inner room, seldom resorted to, of an oblong shape, receiving its only light from a chimney opposite the door, and having also a range of cupboards, about three feet from the floor. In the middle of each of the three sides of the building is an apartment much more spacious and lofty than any other, and not divided into two rooms. These are used as places where the different inmates resort, to smoke, converse, or tell tales. The stables of the caravanserai extend along a covered lane, between the back wall of the apartments and the outermost wall of the building; and along this wall there extends, within the stable, another series of cell-like apartments, for servants and poor people. But the spacious central courtyard is always used as a stable when the weather is fair. In the centre of the court is an elevated platform of masonry, the roof of a subterraneous chamber, a most refreshing retreat during the great midday heats. Sometimes the place of this platform is occupied by the parapet of the deep well or reservoir from which the caravanserai is supplied with water. At the

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

angles of the square, flights of steps conduct to the flat roof of the building, resorted to in the cool of the evening. The traveller brings his bedding, culinary utensils, and some articles of provision, with him. Few caravanserais, however, are thus complete, and many are suffered to fall into decay.

The largest number of them in Persia have been built by wealthy individuals wishing to perpetuate their names, or as acts of charity designed to purchase future rewards. Many are of royal origin, and very ancient.--See Penny Magazine, No. 166.

The following extracts will be of interest, as bearing upon this subject :-“ Just as the sun went down, we passed a small khan—a busy scene. Some were unloading their asses, some spreading their mats for the night. One man was opening his

sack to give his ass provender, and forcibly reminded us of Jacob's sons arrived at their inn.”

Travelling from Sidon to Tyre, we resolved to encamp for the night” at an “old dilapidated khan. Here as the brief twilight came on, there arrived first one company and then another of mules, with tinkling bells, till the square of the building presented quite a lively appearance. We pitched our tent on the roof of the old ruin, where the grass had been allowed to grow; and committing ourselves to Him that keeps Israel, lay down to sleep in peace.”—Narrative of a Mission of Inquiry to the Jews, pp. 253, 258, 259.

“ Some of the finest buildings in Damascus are the khans, or caravanserais, appropriated to the reception of goods brought in caravans from various quarters by wholesale merchants, who supply them to the retail dealers. In the course of our ramble to-day we visited several of these, and were much pleased with them all, but were particularly struck with the beauty of one that was superior to every other. It consisted of a spacious court, the entrance to which from the street was by a superb gateway of the pointed arch, vaulted

[blocks in formation]

and highly ornamented with sculpture. The court was paved throughout with broad flat stones, smoothly polished, and admirably joined together; and in the centre of this stood a large fountain, sending forth cooling and agreeable streams; the whole being crowned with a cluster of lofty domes.

The masonry of this pile was formed of alternate layers of black and white stone . . . (and) the ornaments were profusely rich."--BUCKINGHAM's Arab Tribes, pp. 335, 336.

“ (A Jew) seeing our dilemma, offered to conduct us to a khan ...

where we found an empty room, in which we spread our mats. . . . A strange scene presented itself to us when we looked out in the morning. The khan was of large dimensions, covering apparently an acre of ground, with high buildings all around. The ground floor was occupied with horses and carriages of all kinds. The second floor was devoted to passing travellers, and the third to those who were to stay above six months. The second floor had a wide promenade all round, and on it were gathered groups from many

different countries. . . " This is the style of all eastern caravanserais, and may illustrate the stable of Bethlehem. There was no room for Joseph and Mary in the apartments set apart for travellers, so they had to betake themselves to the lowest floor; and there the shepherds found the Babe.”—Narrative of a Mission of Inquiry to the Jews, pp. 384, 385.

“ These caravanserais exist in all the principal towns of Syria. They are beautiful square buildings, chiefly the property of noblemen, built on speculation, and they often yield a very handsome income. Each caravanserai contains about a hundred rooms : in many of them there are suites of apartments consisting of two or three rooms each. They are let by the year to the. highest bidder, generally a porter of respectability; and he relets the rooms to merchants and travellers at a rent of from ten to a hundred piasters per month each room. (From two to twenty shillings per month.)

[blocks in formation]

Such a

These places are very safe, and generally the customhouse is one of them. There the merchants lodge all their goods, and transact all their business.”— Voice from Lebanon, pp. 63, 64.

“ In every village there is a public room, or more than one, according to the size and ability of the place, devoted to the entertainment of strangers. room is called a menzil, or medafâh—a guest-room.

The guest lodges in the menzil, and his food is supplied by the families to whose circle it belongs. Sometimes they take turns in his entertainment; at other times it is left to those who offer themselves, or rather who claim the privilege. If the guest be a person of consequence, it is a matter of course that a sheep or goat, à lamb or kid, is killed for him. . . . When the guest is a common man, as a muleteer or the like, he is fed with rice, or whatever may be the ordinary food of the people themselves. The guest gives nothing as a remuneration when he leaves. To offer money would be taken as an insult, and to receive it would be a great disgrace. Such is universally the manner of entertainment in the villages throughout the provinces of Jerusalem and Hebron, as well as in other parts of Syria.”—ROBINSON's Researches, ii. 19.

“ The great caravanserais or khans on the high-roads between Baghdad and the sacred places, are handsome and substantial edifices. They have been built by Persian kings, or by wealthy and pious men of the same nation, for the accommodation of pilgrims. A large open square, in which are generally two raised platforms of brickwork for travellers to sleep on during summer, is surrounded by'small apartments or cells, two deep, for winter use. Behind them, spacious stables for horses run round the whole building, and within these stables, on both sides, are other cells for travellers.”_LAYARD's Nineveh and Babylon, p. 478, note.

The palaces, of which we have notice in the Bible,

72

UPLE OF SOLOMON

and higii

sme general arrangepaved 1

Ce magnificent edifice polished,

scribed in 1 Kings vii. centre 01

i series of halls concooling

as the courts of an crowned

-> of these courts (No. 1 of this pi: white sti rich.”_ I.

(A Je to a khan

2 which we sented itsel The khan in an acre of The ground riages of all

use of the forest of Lebapassing traveli.

cing constructed in great stay above sia

wably designed to serve as promenade all.

and an arsenal (compare from many differe.

{ this building was a large of all eastern leta

jur rows of cedar pillars, stable of Bethleh

curies, each containing a and Mary in the apa si dy chambers, fifteen on each they had to betake this all. Attached to the “house there the shepherds to ch of pillars” (No. 3 in plan) Mission of Inquiry to fuming the breadth of the build

“ These caravanseras the porch of judgment," which of Syria. They are bebe court (No. 4 in plan) between the property of noblesse dwelling-house. The inmost they often yield a very house where he dwelt" (No. vanserai contains about appears to have been divided them there are suites of wourt or vestibule, and the or three roch. The actually resided. The highest

nerally

bilince was probably and he 1 Soms to

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »