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Once-lively caravan stops crumble along abandoned Silk Road

Khan al-Noss, one of many caravanserais found along the Silk Road in Iraq and other neighboring countries, is yet another neglected and disappearing Iraqi heritage site.
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KARBALA, Iraq — In an interview with Al-Monitor, 85-year-old Hussein Khazraji described how he used to cross the distance between his hometown, Najaf, and Karbala on foot in the 1950s. He would visit the holy shrines, especially that of Hussein bin Ali in Karbala, as part of the hajj. He and other pilgrims would stop halfway on the nearly 47-kilometer (29-mile) journey between the two cities to spend the night at the enormous Khan al-Noss building dating back to 1774.

Khazraji still vividly remembers this ancient edifice that used to serve as a hostel, where “horses and other livestock would enter the khan’s vast courtyard during the night while people would sleep over in the dozens of rooms in the upper floor.”

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