Khanat Caravansary is one of the rare historical cultural monuments of the capital still intact after at least a century. It was at that time outside the Safavid Wall and near the gate leading to Shah Abdolazim`s Shrine.
Khanat Caravansary is located near Amin-ol-Sultan Square on Saheb Jam Street. It is one of the first caravansaries built in Tehran, preserved mainly by the private owners of this unique historical site.
According to Dehkhoda’s Persian Dictionary, khanat and khan both refer to a house as well as caravansary.
Khanat Caravansary was first in the hands of Musa Khan Amin-ol-Molk who sold it to Haj Ali Ardehali in 1906. It has stayed in the latter’s family ever since.
The last major restoration of the caravansary took place in 2003 when it was registered as a national monument by Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) as a reminder of a past prosperous era.
The restoration, which began in June 2003, was funded by the Ardehali family in cooperation with Tehran Municipality’s District 12 and ICHHTO. It was completed in January 2008.
The main architectural features of the caravansary show that it must have been built toward the end of the Nasseri era (i.e. under the reign of Nassereddin Shah).
Covering an area of 10,000 square meters and inspired by the architecture of Persian gardens, it contains 52 chambers on each side. At present, they are leased to dried fruit and nuts wholesalers.
The great yard has two porches, one on the east side leading to a large entrance and the other on the west leading to a second entrance. There are also big chambers on both sides of the main entrance leading to the main city bazaar and Amin-ol-Sultan Square.
The major shortcoming of Khanat Caravansary is its entrance. Visitors enter a serene nostalgic atmosphere from a busy cacophonous crowded place. It would have been excellent to devise a way to reduce the hubbub of the square and cover the floor of the entrance with stones as in the past.
However, the entrance door is one of its unique features. It is made of wood from plane tree (Platunus) 5.3 meters in height. Despite its huge size, it turns on only four traditional hinges, representing the great art of Iranian architecture.
The surrounding edges of this huge door are decorated with beautiful tiles on which quotations by Imam Ali (AS) concerning trade attract the attention.
In the past, clergies sat in the small and large chaharsou (crossroads in bazaars) near the caravansary, answering merchant’s questions concerning trade based on verses of the Holy Qura`n.
The century-old Khanat Caravansary is currently managed by the Ardehali family, under the supervision of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.