Based on their location, Caravanserais are divided to those built inside city walls, those built outside city walls, and those built near the roads. Sa’d Al-Saltaneh Caravanserai is a city caravanserai, meaning it was built at the heart of the city. Naturally, the caravanserais placed inside cities are more than just place of rest for the passing travel groups and become an important place of trade. Therefore, they include different complementary sections such as shops, bathhouse, and mosque. Sa’d Al-Saltaneh is one of the biggest roofed caravanserai of Iran with an area of about 2.7 Hectare and 400 Hojreh or rooms that functioned as both a place of rest and a place of trade for the travelers, that is why the architecture of this caravanserai is so similar to a Bazaar.
Muhammad Bagher Khan Sa’d Al-Saltaneh Isfahani, the governor of Isfahan in the time of Naser Al Din Shah, ordered the construction of this caravanserai. It took four great master architects of the time two years to finish it. The caravanserai’s been built in the time of business flourishment between Iran and Russia, when trade spots were essential. However, after the World Wars, and when Russia was not financially stable, this caravanserai became unpopular, and its period of demise began.
Sa’d Al-Saltaneh is one of the biggest roofed caravanserai of Iran with an area of about 2.7 Hectare and 400 Hojreh or rooms that functioned as both a place of rest and a place of trade for the travelers, that is why the architecture of this caravanserai is so similar to a Bazaar.
The entrance to the place is possible through a portal that opens to the Imam Khomeini Street with magnificent decoration of bricks and tiles. The Caravanserai has 5 yards dividing the vast area into different sections. The main yard is surrounded from all sides with one story Hojreh or rooms that were made one meter above the yard level and reached through shallow stairs and an Iwans. The doors to the rooms were made of wood and sashed with color glasses. They are simple with dome ceiling and niches in the walls used for keeping and displaying goods. There are holes in the ceiling filled with color glasses that used to provide the necessary light of the Hojreh. The Iwans, stairs, and the rooms have stone pieces for the floor cover, but the yard itself lacked any covering.
West of the central yard, is the Negar Al-Saltaneh yard. This yard has two big Hojreh and two warehouses, and is linked to the Vazir Rast-e (a section of Bazaar). East of the main yard is the Sa’die Yard; there are two Iwans on North and South of the yard with different brick and tile work. On the Northeast of the yard, there is an arched vault with a higher roof in the center and two smaller one on either sides. The vault was connected to the street by a series of stairs. This yard has around 10 Hojreh and there was a Bath House on the North-East side of it as well.
South of the main yard is where the most important section of the Caravanserai is located, the Charsough. Charsough literary means four bazaars, and refers to a place where the 4 main paths of a bazaar or a caravanserai meet each other.
Sa’d Al-Saltaneh Charsough has 4 half-dome with decoration common to these constructs. The West section leads to Qeysarieh and then to the Vazir Rast-e. After the World War and then the recession that followed, the rooms of this caravanserai were sold as independent shops, warehouses and factories. The rest were left unsupervised which led to their destruction. For a time, the place was turned to a Flour Factory and then to Wood Carving Factory. There was even a time that the shop owners set fire to their shops to get compensation money from insurance companies.
The place was registered as a National Heritage in 1937 as part of the Qazvin Grand Bazar but later, in 1998, it was registered separately. With government’s emphasis on natural and cultural heritages in the last two decades, the caravanserai came to attention, and the cultural heritage organization with the help of local organizations, assigned a budget for the restoration of the place. The caravanserai was restored in recent years, and now is used as a shop center.