In the city of Erbil in Iraq's northern region, a 160-year-old caravanserai that was established during the Ottoman period, which served as a trade center between the surrounding cities at the time, is waiting to be restored and turned into a museum with its surviving structure despite the destruction of some parts.
When you proceed through the narrow streets of the marketplace in Koysancak district, an hour's drive from Erbil's city center, you will come across an inlaid wooden door, which serves as the entrance of the caravanserai.
The structure, also known as "Mahmut Agha Khan," served as a caravanserai in the past due to the location of the district where caravans stopped by and commercial products were stored.
Although the caravanserai, which has two floors and nearly 60 rooms, has undergone several restorations in the past, the stones of the destroyed walls can be seen gathered in the courtyard and rooms.
It is noteworthy that the engravings and decorations similar to the ones that adorn the entrance wall of the caravanserai can also be found at the entrance walls of the rooms.
The restoration of the caravanserai, which is in danger of collapsing, and its transformation into a museum may attract local and foreign tourists to the region with the district's location between Erbil, Sulaymaniyah and Kirkuk.
Archaeologist Hemin Numan Kaves, who has extensive studies on caravanserais, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the historical building was built in 1862 by Mahmut Agha Gafuri, who hailed from one of Koysancak's well-established and well-known families.
Highlighting that Koysancak served as one of the trade centers in the region from the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th century, Kaves explained that the structure, named after Mahmut Agha, was used as a caravanserai for this reason.
Kaves stated that the two-story building with approximately 60 rooms was built in a rectangular shape on an area of 1,122 square meters (12,077 square feet).
"The rooms are spread out on all four sides of the building. The rooms above were used as accommodation and offices for the caravans. Judging by the construction of the building, the rooms above all have fireplaces and windows. These rooms were cleanly built and used," Kaves said.
Stating that 75% to 80% of the rooms below were used for storage purposes and have few windows, Kaves said that in some of these rooms, there were places used for feeding and giving water to the animals, as well as places for tying them.
Kaves explained that Koysancak was a transportation point between Kirkuk, Sulaymaniyah and Erbil in the past and that the goods from around the district and other parts of Iraq mostly passed through there.
Kaves said that part of the historical building was repaired in the late 1940s and reminded that some parts of the building that were in danger of collapse were restored in 2005 and most recently last fall.
Stating that the Koysancak Archeology Office plans to restore the caravanserai with the support of various international institutions, Kaves noted that some rooms are planned to become a part of the museum, as well as for cultural cafes, handicrafts and blacksmith kiosks.