The khan is located in the Al-Otaishi area of Al-Hussainiya district, to the north-east of the city of Karbala on the old road linking Baghdad and Karbala. It is one of 99 khans starting from the Iranian city of Tus and ending in the city of Najaf at Khan al-Nakhilah, which was demolished. The khans of convoys are one of the famous landmarks in Islamic architecture in the city of Karbala.
And because of the religious center of Karbala, as well as its location on the roads of trade convoys and pilgrims from some Iraqi cities as well as from Iran, Turkey and Central Asia, the khans for convoys has spread on the main external roads of the city.
In a later period, this khan was used as a police station for the Al-Otaishi police, and at the present time, most of its walls and facilities have collapsed, especially the iwans located in the courtyards.
The architectural scheme of Khan Al-Otaishi is similar to the construction of khans that were built outside the cities in that time, and It is rectangular, with 65 meters long and 51 meters wide, and its outer walls are about 5 meters high and one meter thick, and the upper part of them was provided with narrow holes used to defend and protect the khan from thieves, the outer corners of the khan are supported by four large towers, with a radius of 4.5 meters, and this khan has an entrance in the middle of the southwestern facade. Which is prominent from the wall, and it is about three meters high and two meters wide, and is surmounted by a large pointed arch.
In the middle of the khan there is an open inner courtyard of 50 meters in length and 35 meters in width, surrounded by rooms that are preceded by iwans of different sizes, topped by pointed arches. As for the method used in the process of roofing rooms and iwans is by using of pointed vaults, and this type of roofing began to be used in the construction of religious and civil buildings that were erected in Iraq during the period of the Ottoman rule of Iraq.
With regard to the towers technique, domes were used in a hemispherical shape based on a cylindrical base. And in the method of construction was used the paving of domes that were built in central and southern Iraq during Islamic eras. The construction method followed the paving of domes that were built in central and southern Iraq during Islamic times.
And the exterior facade of the main entrance to the khan is decorated with interlocking brick decorations that resembles a mat weaving.
Karbala has many tourist and archaeological attractions sites that tourists can visit and enjoy, and their roaming is limited to the city center, where there are religious shrines that are of interest to many people from Iraq and abroad, and the rehabilitation of these places and the establishment of recreational facilities close to them may make them another source of income in The city, particularly as the areas that contain these monuments such as Khan Al-Otaishi and Khan al-Rubu’ are characterized by stunning scenery and surrounded by green spaces that can attract tourists and are close to the city center. And it is noteworthy that this heritage edifice is in a tragic situation as a result of the apparent neglect of this important landmark that represents the history of the city of Karbala.
Prepared by: Archaeologist Karrar Al-Razeki – Head of the Muthanna Volunteer Antiquities and Heritage Rescue Team