The sun had long since sunk below the horizon and though it was early evening, winter had turned the sky an inky black. It was an enticing word in a small font on a tourist map that set us upon the Aksaray-Nevşehir road: caravanserai. Caravanserais were situated along trade routes (the most famous being the Silk Road), where the large complexes could offer travelling merchants and their animals a place to rest, safe from bandits.
It was something we couldn't possibly miss— a ghostly, imposing portal rising high from a crumbling village on the side of a lonely stretch of road. The Ağzıkarahan Caravanserai was built between 1231–1239 CE, its entrance ornate with Seljuk patterns expertly carved in stone. Were it not for the headlights of our car, its beauty would be lost in the darkness. I pushed my camera with a desperate hope that it could capture some sense of what was before me— inevitably, its flashes coaxed a short, bent figure out from the shadows, who asked if we wanted to have the massive door unlocked.
For five lira he handed us a pair of weak plastic torches and welcomed us inside a pitch-black open space, walled in by structures I couldn't quite make out. The light from my torch barely reached my feet, and I moved with a slight tremble, aware of my propensity to walk into walls, fall off things, and generally injure myself. Curious about the construction of the caravanserai, I began to take photos blindly, the flash briefly illuminating arches and a small mescit. It felt like the beginning of a horror film, when the unsuspecting tourist suddenly catches a ghoulish figure in the background of a photo...
Imagine this nearly forgotten space alive with the shuffling of camels, donkeys, and horses, the conversations and tales of travellers floating up into the night; fires lighting, heating, cooking— the smell of animal and of supper.