Bureaucratic obstacles keep historical inn in southern Turkey closed to visitors since 2021

The Ertokuş Kervansaray, an 800-year-old inn located in southern Turkey’s Isparta province, has been closed to visitors after its extensive restoration in 2021 due to bureaucratic processes moving at a glacial speed. Locals believe the inn would bring in tourists and demand it open to visitors.

Ceren Deniz / Gazete Duvar

The 800-year-old Ertokuş Caravanserai (a Seljuk-era inn) on the shores of Lake Eğirdir in the southern province of Isparta was closed after its restoration and reopening due to transfer procedures to the Antalya Regional Directorate of Foundations.

The caravanserai was restored in 2010 and opened to tourism. Despite the significant budget allocated for its restoration, the Ertokuş Caravanserai was locked after a few official ceremonies and several years of hosting visitors.

Applications from hiking groups and locals, who wanted to include the caravanserai in cultural routes and benefit from tourism income, have not yet yielded results. 

Locals want the caravanserai back in operation.  Mehmet Kibar noted that the Ertokuş Caravanserai had furnished interiors with seating areas for visitors. “We used to sit and chat in the front courtyard. They took those away some time ago. Visitors who see the sign along the road and come to visit are surprised to find the door locked,” he said.

Sinan Andaç, one of those who wanted to visit the inn after seeing the sign while driving said, “The 800-year-old caravanserai has been beautifully restored but remains locked. We visited about two years ago, and it was closed then too. Can’t this monument serve its original purpose as a roadside rest stop, a cool spot by the lake to catch one’s breath? Instead, it’s left to decay.”

The inn underwent extensive restoration in 2013, but remains closed to tourists since 2021.

Officials from the Gelendost District Governor’s Office confirmed that after the restoration of the Ertokuş Caravanserai, it was transferred to the Antalya Regional Directorate of Foundations. Officials from the directorate stated that correspondence and procedures with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism are ongoing for the caravanserai to be reopened. The caravanserai has not been reopened due to the lengthy transfer procedures initiated by the Gelendost District Governor’s Office.

There are over 250 caravanserais in Turkey from the Seljuk era, many of which need maintenance. The Ertokuş Caravanserai was built in 1223 on the shores of Lake Eğirdir, its open courtyard surrounded by porticos and a three-naved covered section is a typical example of classical Seljuk caravanserai architecture from the first quarter of the 13th century.

Despite being locked since the pandemic, the historic caravanserai is listed among “places to visit” on the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s “Cultural Portal” website. The door placed under the dome at the entrance during excavation and restoration has remained locked since then.

 (English version by Ayşenaz Toptaş)