Karvansarai-ye Ribat-i Malik
Ribat-i Malik, Uzbekistan
The Ribat-i Malik caravanserai is an inn house, built by Qaghan ruler Abu'l Hasan Shams al-Mulk Nasr (1068-80) towards the end of the eleventh century, between the trade centres of Samarkand and Bukhara. Like the typical Seljuk caravanserai built every 30 kilometres along the Silk Road, the Ribat-i Malik consists of lodging rooms, storerooms, stables, and guard quarters arranged around internal courtyards. However, this caravanserai's fortified walls, defensive towers, monumental interior halls and elaborate portals resemble early Abbasid palaces rather than the common highway stopover. This military-palatial architecture justifies the name ribat or rabat, (Arabic "castle" or "fortress"). The Ribat-i Malik's ruins today stand near the village of Kermine or Nawoiy in Uzbekistan's Navoi province.

The Ribat-i Malik is a square, walled enclosure consisting of four court quadrants. These are symmetrically aligned along a primary axis, defined by the single southern entranceway to the complex. A domed space precedes the imposing entrance portal, which then leads to an entrance forecourt. Enclosed courtyards that housed stables and guardrooms flank either side of this forecourt. Further along the axis, a relatively modest portal leads to a multiple domed space, forming the complex's northern end. Smaller, rectangular courts housing ancillary functions and an elaborate set of apartments flank this domed hall. This complex arrangement of private residential functions in a highway inn suggests functions beyond the essential needs of tradesmen.

Little beyond the entrance portal and portions of the front elevation survive today. Built largely with sun-baked bricks, the Ribat-i Malik's décor consisted of brick tile work, friezes marking cornices and an impressive façade treatment of ornamental embedded cylindrical columns. These semi-columns were connected at the top by arches are a rare façade décor found only on the minaret of Dzharkurgan in the neighbouring Surkhondaryo province. The corner turrets and screen walls of the front façade were higher and more elaborately adorned than the sidewalls. The Ribat-i Malik's remote location and utilitarian architecture has limited tourist interest and state preservation efforts alike.


Hillenbrand, Robert. Islamic Architecture, 30, 343, 344, 549. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999.

Knobloch, Edgar. Monuments of Central Asia, 116. London: I.B. Tauris Publishers, 2001.
On the old caravanserai road between Bukhara and Samarkand, Ribat-i Malik, Uzbekistan
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1068-1080/460-473 AH
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Ribat-i Malik Caravanserai
Ribat-e Malik Caravanserai
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