[ Autumn 2005 ] The caravansary we visited in Armania is situated in a highland which is more than 2400 metres high. The place is called Selim Pass and the view from here was breathtaking….
The Orbelian’s caravanserai in Armenia which is also known as the Selim Caravanserai or the Sulema Caravanserai, is located in the province of Vayots Dzor and was built near the Selim Pass in 1332 by Prince Chesar Orbelian as a place of shelter for travellers and animals who ventured through the pass..
Situated at 2,410 metres above sea level, this construction is the best preserved of its kind in the whole country.
The caravanserai, or roadside inn, is made out of blocks of basalt.
It has a single hall which is divided into three naves with seven pairs of pillars.
The animals were housed in the narrow aisles to the left and to the right of the main hall.
Between the pillars, there are troughs for the animals and in one corner of the hall there is a water tank.
The travellers slept in a separate room which was built at the end of the aisle on the western side of the caravanserai.
The vaulted ceiling is supported by columns and has a hole in its centre which enables both light and air to enter the structure.
This also served as an escape route for smoke from the fires which were used both for cooking and to provide warmth.
Above the entrance, there are representations of two animals carved into the rock, a winged animal on the left and a bull on the right hand side.
Inside the building there are two inscriptions incised in the stone, one in Armenian, which was written in 1332 by Prince Chesar as a permanent memorial to his family and the other, which was written in Persian but which has been subjected to vandalism and is therefore no longer legible.
The caravanserai underwent a partial rebuild between 1956 and 1959.
The Selim Pass is about two and a half hours from Yerevan .