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Armenia: Selim caravanserai

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Selim caravanserai | Armenia | Asia

[Visited: May 2012]

Driving south from Martuni, we thoroughly enjoyed the views opening up ahead and around us. We stopped several times, to soak in the wide views, to see the traces of snow close by, signs of winter, while just at our feet, an abundance of yellow flowers in green grass marked spring. The condition of the road was mostly good; in some parts there were lots of potholes, making me steer from left to right, and back, but it was still better than what I had expected based on reports I had read. We stayed on roughly the same altitude for quite some time, before finally reaching Selim Pass itself at 2410m. It was not only cold, but also raining lightly outside, so we did not spend much time at the summit, and drove down, knowing that Selim caravanserai was just around the corner.

Picture of Selim caravanserai (Armenia): The caravanserai just under Selim pass is still largely intact

Indeed, we saw two Ladas parked at the roadside, and beyond, a smaller than expected, rectangular building made of basalt. The grayish weather did not really help the caravanserai look at its best. We stopped right at the entrance; above it, we saw a griffin and a bull, still higher is a slab of stone with an inscription in Persian, using Arabic letters. Inside, darkness fell over us; we saw another inscription, in Armenian, in the entrance hall, and then entered the main hall of the caravanserai which only has one entrance - an effective protection against thieves. There are several oculi, or openings, in the ceiling, allowing light to get in. After a while, I realized that under each opening, there was a heap of snow slowly melting away.

Picture of Selim caravanserai (Armenia): The dark interior of the caravanserai of Selim

So this is where travelers slept once upon a time, and guarded their animals on the sides of the long hall. Stone troughs provided a way to feed the animals. Several pairs of columns support the roof of the caravanserai, which seems quite small inside. I wondered how many people would stay here at any one time, and how many animals. A full caravanserai would surely have had a lively atmosphere, of which nothing is left now: it is a stark, damp, and darkish place where you have to tread carefully on the uneven floor. When the weather is nice, this supposedly is a favourite picnic spot, but as it was, we only saw a few people around. We stood at the edge of the abyss, which offered sweeping views into the valley below, the valley that we would be driving on our way east.

Picture of Selim caravanserai (Armenia): Animals carved out in the wall above the Selim caravanserai
Picture of Selim caravanserai (Armenia): Looking into the large hall of Selim caravanserai from the entrance hall
Picture of Selim caravanserai (Armenia): View from the caravanserai

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