Historic caravanserai in Nicosia

Buyuk Han

Discover Buyuk Han in North Nicosia: a 1572 Ottoman caravanserai turned cultural center with shops, art, and local cuisine.

Buyuk Han, located in the heart of North Nicosia, Cyprus, stands as a significant historical landmark reflecting the island's Ottoman past. Built in 1572, this former caravanserai, which provided lodging for travelers and their animals, now serves as a vibrant cultural center. Visitors can explore its array of craft shops, studios, and cafes set around the central courtyard, and attend various art exhibitions and performances hosted in the upper galleries.

Architecture of Buyuk Han

The architecture of Buyuk Han is a testament to the functional design of historical caravanserais. Central to its layout is the open courtyard, which was traditionally used for animals and trade. Today, the courtyard is a gathering place for visitors and locals alike. The two floors of the structure include vaulted rooms that once served as lodging for traders. Pay attention to the stone arches and a small mosque that are prime examples of Ottoman architectural style and contribute to the unique atmosphere of Buyuk Han.

Art Galleries and Workshops

One of the outstanding features of Buyuk Han is its transformation into a hub for arts and crafts. Several galleries and workshops allow visitors to observe artists at work and purchase unique pieces. One such place is the Artizan Art Gallery, where you can find stunning local paintings and sculptures. These spaces are not merely shops but also interactive studios where you might catch an impromptu weaving, pottery, or glass-blowing demonstration.

Dining at Buyuk Han

For a taste of local cuisine, there are dining options within the Han itself. Asmaalti Cafe lets guests enjoy traditional Cypriot coffee and sweets with a view of the bustling courtyard. For a more substantial meal, restaurants like Dervish Pasha Restaurant offer a range of dishes, from kebabs to mezes, in a historical ambiance.

Shopping and Events

Shopping at Buyuk Han is a unique experience due to the range of handcrafted items on offer. Leather goods, jewelry, textiles, and ceramics are highlights and make for great souvenirs. Beyond shopping, Buyuk Han often hosts cultural events, such as music performances and art exhibitions, especially during summer evenings. These activities provide insight into the local customs and traditions, rounding out the experience for visitors.

Nearby Attractions

While in the area of Buyuk Han, consider visiting other attractions nearby. Just a short walk away is the Selimiye Mosque, formerly St. Sophia Cathedral, a piece of living history transitioning from a Lusignan Gothic church to an Ottoman mosque. Another nearby spot is the Ledra Street Crossing Point, where you can witness the division of Nicosia first-hand and learn about this significant geopolitical aspect of Cyprus.

Accessibility and Transportation

Buyuk Han is easily accessible by foot once you are in North Nicosia, with pedestrian signs leading the way from many parts of the city. For those arriving by car, there are parking options in the vicinity. Public transportation is also available with local buses stopping near the historic site. The compactness of Nicosia makes Buyuk Han a convenient and central spot to visit while exploring the city's rich tapestry of history and culture.

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