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Nicosia, Cyprus

Büyük Han (Great Inn) 

Great Khan (Inn), Nicosia, North Cyprus
Inner courtyard of Great Inn. (Photo courtesy of Ömer Yağız)

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 city.

References

  • Dreghorn, W., The Antiquities of Turkish Nicosia, Rustem Publishers, Nicosia.

 

 
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