In the east, when the dangers of travel were many and the comforts were few, travelers often joined together in caravans for protection. Stopping places for the caravans were called caravanserais…and they were a place to sit around a fire at night and exchange stories…In the day, travelers…might see each other only as silhouettes wavering in the heat haze. At night, under the starry sky, they could come together again…to the travelers, the caravanserais were a cheerful source of news, companionship and entertainment. Nawab Pasnak
The first caravanserais appeared in Central Asia (namely, the Seljuk principalities) in the second half of the 10th century. Beeing a place og religious and economic importance, caravanserais have become a defense inn. Seljuk Sultans built in the Anatolia (Asia Minor) a network of caravanserais. Caravanserais were located at a distance of 30 to 40 kilometers apart, which was a day journey distance of caravans. The system of caravanserais has been perfected in the Ottoman and Safavid empires. The network of caravanserais spread from the Caucasus in the north to the Mediterranean Sea to the south, from Lake Skadar, up to the limits of today’s Croatia in the west to Afghanistan in the east.
Caravanserais were massive fortifications with stone walls and metal gates. Typically, this structure was a square or rectangular shape. It had a courtyard that was surrounded by arcaded buildings. The first floor housed shops and stalls for cattle. On the upper floors housed rooms for travelers. In addition, one could use the services of a doctor, dine and enjoy tea or coffee. Services on the caravan routes provided free of charge except in cities, where travelers had to pay for the night.
The peculiarity of caravanserais of Bukhara was that they were not fortified buildings, as there were located in the city. Thus, the need for construction of defense structures for protection against robbers disappeared by itself. In contrast to the Seljuk caravanserais, beast of burden was not allowed to keep in caravanserais of Bukhara, as there was a special caravanserai for animals outside the city.