Afzal caravanserai one step closer to UNESCO status
The Qajar-era (1789-1925) Afzal caravanserai in the ancient town of Shushtar, southwestern Khuzestan province will soon be assessed for possibly becoming a UNESCO World Heritage, Shushtar’s tourism chief has said.
The documentation of the caravanserai has been completed and its dossier is ready to be submitted to the UNESCO experts, Ali Mohammad Chaharmahali announced on Wednesday. A unique and magnificent location inside the city’s historical texture, next to its bazaar, makes the caravanserai a landmark worth mentioning, the official added. The architect of the historic inn, Haj Jafar Memar was one of the leading architects of that era, and he also built the Mostofi Mansion in Shushtar as well as parts of the historical Selasal Castle, he noted. Caravansary (also Caravanserai or Caravansaray) is a building that served as the inn of the Orient, providing accommodation for commercial, pilgrim, postal, and especially official travelers. According to Encyclopedia Iranica, from the number of surviving caravansaries and their sizes, it is clear that in Safavid and Qajar times there was a state architectural department that was specifically concerned with the construction of caravansaries and stations on the overland routes. Furthermore, in the cities, several caravansaries were erected as lodging houses, depots, and commercial offices in the vicinity of the bazaars. A typical caravansary consists of a square or rectangular plan centered around a courtyard with only one entrance and arrangements for defense if necessary. Whether fortified or not, it at least provided security against beasts of prey and attacks by brigands.