During the Seljuk Period, the most important trade factors were roads,caravans and inns. The caravans, during long journeys, sopped at inns to rest in the evenings. They set off again after having met to their needs and those of their animals. The first caravanserais in the Middle Asia during the time of Karahans, Ghaznavids and Great Seljuk State, were buildings called ”Ribat”. These small buildings first constructed for the military, later were expanded and redesigned for religious purposes and as inns. Especially during the times of Seljuk Sultans Kılıçarslan II and Alaaddin Keykubat I , the construction of these buildings accelerated and security along the trading roads was provided by the state. The state compensated for any loss of merchandise, a sort of insurance system.
During this period both domestic and foreign trade prospered , making the Seljuks strong politically as well as economically. Traders would lodge up to three days in the caravanserais shoes would be repaired or new ones given to the poor. Sick travelers would be treated , animals tended to and if necessary, horses shoed. For their religious practices, traders used the ” Köşk Mescid” a small mosque in the center of the courtyard. The mosques, typically built on an arched base, were the most important part of the caravanserais. the courtyards were normally bordered with a dining room, depots, a bathhouse and bathrooms. ” Mangals” (braziers) or ”tandırs” (ovens hollowed in the ground) were used to heat the rooms. Candled and lamps were used for light. Those working in caravanserais typically included a doctor, an imam (prayer leader) a depot officer, a veterinarian, a messenger, a blacksmith and a cook.
Stones cut from volcanic rock were used in the construction of the Cappadocia caravanserais. To serve defense purposes, the walls were built like those of castles. Some of the best examples of Seljuk stonemasonry can be seen at the entrance called ” Taç Kapı ”. Although dragon, lion and floral motifs were frequently used to decorate the entrances elsewhere, caravanserais in the Cappadocia are generally void of geometrical designs. The doors were made of iron.
Caravanserais were built along roads running from Antalya to Konya to Kayseri to the land of Turkomans which pass through Erzurum and Tabriz. They also stretch from the Black Sea region to Iraq via Amasya, Tokat, Sivas, Malatya and Diyarbakır, at intervals of 30-40 km, a one day camel trek. One of the most beautiful examples of a caravanserais is in Cappadocia between Aksaray and Kayseri.