inside the caravanserai, near the Selim Pass

Just across the Selim Pass, which connects Lake Sevan with the country south, is the ancient, and well-preserved, caravanserai.

On our way from Lake Sevan south, we cross the Selim Pass, at 2410 m. On the north side, it is actually a fairly desolate landscape, dry hilly but not really mountainous – if you know what I mean, mostly high plateau. The occasional sheep herds, and a few pretty basic villages.

The main attraction, however, is the Selim Caravanserai, touted as one of the best preserved caravanserais in the world. It was built in 1332, from black basalt blocks, by one Chesar Orbelian (and is thus sometimes referred to as the Orbelian Caravanserai). We have seen caravanserais before, and coming upon this example we were initially put off. But once inside, it is indeed a remarkable building – admittedly quite different from many Silk Road caravanserais we have seen in the past. Here, a small entrance area turns into a remarkably large hall, with space for animals on both sides. Of course, the way windows are built is not different from what we have seen in many of the monasteries, including its decorations. A nice discovery, albeit entirely in the middle of nowhere. Reminder of the Armenian Silk Road branch, no doubt.

Next: the wine region of the Arpa Valley.

desolate landscape north of the pass, with the occasional village hidden in its folds

whilst south of the pass the road quickly descends, in more varied landscape

the entrance to the caravanserai

the long central hall, with sections for the animals on the left side

another view, with animal pens behind the arches

inside the caravanserai

sheep herds populate the high plateau

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