Visit Nicosia, the capital of both North and South Cyprus, is currently the biggest and most densely populated city on the Island. The developing, urban, yet historic and charming city of Nicosia is the major centre for arts, culture, diplomacy and business. During your Nicosia tour you will visit Selimiye Mosaque (Aya Sophia Cathedral), the Great Inn (Büyük Hann) and The Bandabulya (Covered Bazaar).
Aya Sophia Cathedral
The Selimiye mosque, originally the Roman Catholic cathedral of Ayia Sofia, is the oldest, and one of the finest examples of Gothic art in Cyprus, the work of the French masons who accompanied the Crusades. The monumental main door and the carved stone window above it are of particular interest.
The Lusignan king Henry I started the construction in 1209, and lasted 150 years. There is evidence that it was-
• In 1326, It was consecrated while still incomplete, and the blunt-roofed bell towers were never finished.
The Great Inn
One of the most important architectural works of the Ottoman period, the Buyuk Han (The Great Inn) is located in the traditional market centre within the City Walls. The han was built to provide accommodation for travelers from Anatolia and other parts of Cyprus and originally named “Alanyalilar’s Han”.Buyuk Han consists of 68 rooms which open to the vaulted galleries surrounding a square planned inner courtyard and 10 shops which open to the outside of the Han. An Ottoman Mesjid stands on marble piers, with a fountain beneath it in the centre of the courtyard.
The Bandabulya (Covered Bazaar)
During the Lusignan and Venetian period, the area of St Sophia (Selimiye) was the main religious and trade centre of Nicosia. This continued under the Ottomans, who started using the Cathedral as a mosque. Selimiye was the meeting point for the citizens of Nicosia, especially on Fridays, to coincide with Friday prayers.
St Nicholas Church (Bedestan) served as a market where mostly textiles were sold. Because of population growth, and because people from all over Cyprus came to the city to sell their goods, new buildings were built around the Bedestan, including the Hans where tradesmen could stay.