Inner courtyard of Great Inn. (Photo
This is a sixteenth century inn,
the name meaning, great inn. It is situated in Asmaaltı Street and is classified by
the Department of Antiquities as an ancient building.
The view of the
inn from the
rear, and so much of its appearance is like a grim fortress, that in the old
colonial days, the British used this khan as Nicosia Central Prison. Windows
were always high up, and small because of marauders (rich merchants at the inn
were inevitably a source of great temptation) and in the Middle Ages, glass was
very expensive. In the interior courtyard is a picturesque octagonal tower used
for prayers and is therefore a miniature mosque or masjid, with a picturesque
fountain below. Around the court and downstairs are the stables, while the
merchants had their bedrooms upstairs.
The building has curious
octagonal chimneys; perhaps guests were allowed to have small charcoal braziers
in their rooms. In all, about 67 people were accommodated, but without hot
water, TV or electric blankets.
The main entrance to the Great
Inn is in Asmaaltı Street, but you would hardly notice it, as it is so cluttered up with
shops and stalls. This inn was built about 1570 A.D. by Muzaffer Pasha, so it
is not a mediaeval building. If you really want to see mediaeval inns, you must
go to Tripoli in Lebanon, while in the old Persian towns of Isfahan and Shiraz
you can actually see the old customs lingering on. "Caravans" come
into the khan yard at night, cook their meals in the open, wash, pray and
"bed" down the donkeys for the night. That's the place for a TV
documentary film. For some time the Great Khan was used as a builders' yard, but
now all this paraphernalia has been removed and the khan awaits restoration.
Since this article
was written by the William Dreghorn, the Great Inn has been
restored to its former glory. It now houses ats and crafts
workshops, galleries, caffe and a lovely inner courtyard
restaurant, frequented by artists, locals and tourists alike. It
sometimes feel like a oasis in the hustle and bustle of the
Antiquities of Turkish Nicosia, Rustem Publishers, Nicosia.