Karaköy, Beyoğlu - İstanbul - Turkey
GPS : 41°01'21.3"N 28°58'19.5"E / 41.022583, 28.972083
The Rüstem Pasha Caravanserai, also known as Kurşunluhan, was built upon the foundations of ruined San Michelle Genoese Church in Galata, Balıkpazarı Kardeşim Street by Sinan the Architect between 1544 and 1550. During the Byzantine Period, measuring instruments were being adjusted in the church. The construction of the caravanserai commenced after Hacı Halil Ağa masjid, which was the first to be built after the conquest, was relocated in Yenibahçe.
The Rüstem Pasha Caravanserai, this building was built for the grand vizier to Süleyman the Magnificent in the 1540s. Remarkably, it survives to this day, unrestored, with its eight domes intact. The caravanserai was built over the ruins of a Genoese Cathedral.
This peculiar architecture is probably the most hidden work by Mimar Sinan in Istanbul. Disguised behind an anonymous door in the un-touristy side of Karaköy, in the vicinity of the Tünel funicular stop and the port, this building, formerly known as Rüstempasa Caravensarai, was a roadside inn were merchant travelers, their servants and animals could rest at the end of a day's journey.
This type of building has existed since the 10th century, when they were built outside the walls of the city and along caravan routes (therefore the Turkish name Caravensarai, caravan palace). They supported the flow of commerce, people and information across the network of trade routes covering Central Asia and Middle East, the Silk Road being the most famous one among them. The Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasha commissioned Sinan to build this large inn just outside the walls of the Galata district.
The two storey han, favoured by mostly Christian customers, measures 83 x 35 m with a courtyard measuring 8.1 x 43.2 m. The han contains 27 rooms and 2 courts on the first floor, and 30 rooms on the second floor and eight-domes. It is mentioned as Kurşunlu Han in the 1561 Foundation Charter of Rüstem Pasha. The two-storey building has a narrow and elongated open courtyard. It is open to the public, except on Sundays.
Rüstem Pasha Han (or Kurşunlu Han) is still a working han. Corinthian cap on the left at the entrance. It was probably taken from a church that was turned down when the han was built, and pressed into service as part of a water pump.
Behind an undignified sole entrance, embedded between narrow streets filled with shops selling electronics and hydraulic machinery, the rectangular two story space consists of a central court surrounded by a cloister-like arcade. The ground floor is connected by an open stone stairway to a second story that is ringed by masonry pointed arches that give access to many small rooms.
At its peak, the ground floor was used for storing the bales of merchandise or stabling the camels, and the upstairs chambers lodged the travelers. Nowadays the entrance level is a godforsaken storage space where merchandise is scattered across the floor and the upper floor rooms are used by tornacis (turners) and other craftsmen. The courtyard is open to the sky and has a pleasant grape vine that somehow evokes the Ottoman times when the place was full of life.
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