Khan al-Khayyatin
Tripoli, Lebanon
The Khayyatin Khan is thought to have been built by Amir Badr al Din, but it has no inscription, and all one can say is that it was probably built in the fourteenth century; it forms an integral part of the central city, which would have been a difficult feat at a later date when the area had become crowded. As the name Khan al Khayyatin implies, the khan housed and still houses tailors and other related trades; needles, thread, sewing machines, and similar paraphernalia crowd the shops and the street.

The khan is a long rectangular building of about 40 by 80 meters with a covered central courtyard and shops on either side. Although regarded as a khan and having some of its characteristics, it looks much more like a closed street than it does a typical khan with its traditional courtyard and square rectangular structure. Its ground floor has two rows of twelve shops set in deep arches on either side of the central paved alley or court. The shops are of identical shape and size (4.5 by 3 meters) with no openings except for the door on the court.

The upper floor is reached by three sets of stairs, two at the southern and one at the northern end of the khan; the two areas are unconnected. Set above the shops and identical in dimension, both sections of the upper floor have the same arrangement: a corridor at the back opens by twelve doors into twelve square rooms set immediately over the twelve shops below. These rooms open with a window each onto the court or street of the khan. In a cross-section we would see a shop below topped by a small room and a corridor section. The upper floor is very much like the traditional khan upper floor with rooms around a gallery, except that here the corridor has replaced the gallery and instead of looking onto the courtyard, it runs along the outside of the building.

Although the two upper levels are not connected, they are united at the second-floor level by ten transverse arches set between the windows, which support a flat roof and give the effect of a covered hall. This repeat of arches gives a feeling of unity and intimacy to the khan and also provides plenty of air and sunshine, making it a building much admired and photographed by visitors.

On the side facing the Khan al Misriyyin, the Khan al Khayyatin has a complex entrance unit which opens onto the street. Its simple facade has a pointed arch which incorporates an antique column with a classical Corinthian capital" (Salam 1983).

According to Dr. Omar Tadmouri, the Khan was probably built on the remains of a Byzantine and Crusader structure in the center of the ancient commercial suburb which controlled passage over the Abu Ali River. This is why, this Khan has a different plan than the others in the city. The restored structure consists of a long passageway with tall arches on each side and ten transverse arches. Archeologists working near the Tailors' khan some years ago unearthed Byzantine remains, including a granite column surmounted by a marble Corinthian capital, nowadays, standing at the western entrance. Recently, the khan was renovated with the assistance of Germany (Tadmouri).

Sources:

Salam-Liebich, Hayat, 1983. The Architecture of the Mamluk City of Tripoli. Cambridge: The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture.

Tadmouri, Omar. "Caravanserais in Tripoli, Lebanon." Tripoli City Website. http://tripoli-city.org/khan.html. [Accessed April 18, 2006]
Location
Suq al-Bazirkhan, Tripoli, Lebanon
Images & Videos
Documents
Events
probably 14th century
Style Periods
1250-1517
Variant Names
خان الخياطين
Original
Khan al-Khayyatin
Transliterated
Khan al-Khayyateen
Alternate transliteration
Khayyatin Khan
Translated
Khayyateen Khan
Translated
Building Usages
khan
commercial