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Caravan-serai

Caravan-serai Selim

In medieval Armenia many buildings were built along commercial routes for the accommodation of travelers. One of those, the caravan-serai of Selim, was built in 1332 by Prince Chesar Orbelian, according to an inscription in Armenian and Arabic and was a part of the Silk Road. This Сaravan-serai offered hospitality to travelers along the highway crossing the Selim (Sulema) mountains. The best preserved of all medieval caravanserais in Armenia, it comprises a vaulted antechamber and a large hall partitioned into three sections lighted through openings in the ceiling. This building is an excellent example of Armenian secular architecture in the middle Ages.
Selim Caravan-saray lies below the road just before the summit on the south side of Selim Pass (2410 m), a splendid relic of the days when an international trade route connected Vayots Dzor to the Sevan basin and points North. According to the Armenian inscription on the right inside the door, Prince Chesar Orbelian and his brothers built this rest-house in 1332 in the reign of Abu Said Il Khan, "the ruler of the world," whose death in 1335 deprived the world of an enlightened Mongol despot and ushered in a new wave of invasions. The Persian inscription on the outside lintel (almost effaced by recent vandals) gives the date 1326-1327. The Armenian inscription reads:
"In the name of the Almighty and powerful God, in the year 1332, in the world-rule of Busaid Khan, I Chesar son of Prince of Princes Liparit and my mother Ana, grandson of Ivane, and my brothers, handsome as lions, the princes Burtel, Smbat and Elikom of the Orbelian nation, and my wife Khorishah daughter of Vardan of the Senikarimans, built this spiritual house with our own funds for the salvation of our souls and those of our parents and brothers reposing in Christ, and of my living brothers and sons Sargis, Hovhannes the priest, Kurd and Vardan. We beseech you, passers-by, remember us in Christ. The beginning of the house {took place} in the high-priesthood of Esai, and the end, thanks to his prayers, in the year 1332.
The best preserved caravansaray in Armenia, Selim is built of basalt blocks, with a cavernous central hall for animals separated from the two vaulted side aisles by rows of stone mangers.