Khan al-basha

Khan al-Basha is a structure of historical importance. One of the most impressive khans in the country, it is currently undergoing rehabilitation and renovation.

Khan al-Basha, located in front of the Church of the Annunciation, is the most impressive and the largest of the five khans built in Nazareth. The Khan bears the name of Acre Governor Suleiman Basha, who supervised its restoration in 1814 (the original date of construction is unknown).

Today, the Khan serves as an office building (among other things, the offices of the Nazareth Association for Culture and Tourism are housed in the Khan) and is meant to undergo rehabilitation and preservation. ‘Ann is a Persian word meaning road inn.

The Khanates developed during the Mamluk period under the influence of the prosperous trade between the West and the East. Khans were built along the main roads, especially along the Damascus-Cairo route, and served as stations proving accommodation for convoys and passers-by, and as a place of safety following the drop in safety along the route during the disintegration of the Arab Empire.

They also served as stations for collecting road taxes and as part of the postal system in the empire. Urban khans also served as an addictive and commercial place as well as a place for storing goods and parking animals.

A typical Khan is a square structure with rooms arranged around an open courtyard. An exterior gate opens to the inner courtyard where the cistern is housed. The inner façades of some khans have been built in the shape of a vaulted stew, while in others the inner façade was built in the form of openings without a stew, i.e., rooms that open directly to the courtyard. The shape of Khan al-Basha is a large courtyard surrounded by vault-shaped rooms on three fronts, while the fourth façade is a vaulted stew.

Khan al-basha

Near the entrance gate, two staircases led to the roof that was used for accommodation during the summer months. There is no sign of a water well or furniture, but it is safe to assume that there was once a well in the centre of the courtyard. Khan al-Basha was originally a one-story building, but at the end of the 19th century ten guest rooms were added as a second floor. These rooms served as a modern hotel called Al-Hijaz.

Khan al-Basha was the first stop upon entering the city, as well as the last stop when leaving it and was therefore used to convey news. It also served as an important commercial centre for the residents of the area. The importance of the Khan can be observed in the painting by English orientalist artist David Roberts: in an 1839 painting depicting the city, Khan al-Basha is the most prominent and impressive structure. Over the years, with changes to transportation and lifestyles in general, the Khan decreased in size and parts of it were converted into workshops, warehouses and offices. As mentioned, this important Khan is undergoing renovation and conservation work.

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