North Nicosia (Lefkoşa)

Renovated as part of the Nicosia Master Plan, the imposing Bedestan dates from the 6th century, when it was built as a small Byzantine chapel. It was grandly embellished in the 14th century and reborn as St Nicholas Church.

Today it's used primarily as the venue for whirling dervish performances. Unfortunately, this means the beauty of the building's swooping Gothic arches is somewhat curtailed by rows of garish orange plastic chairs and other additions. The Bedstan is only open to ticket-holders during performances.

There is some dispute over whether, after its 14th-century extension, the church served as an Orthodox or Latin place of worship. The north doorway has some splendid looking coats of arms originally belonging to noble Venetian families. These families may have been supporters of the Orthodox Church, which was allowed to continue with its business despite the Catholic dominance of religious life in Cyprus.

After the Ottomans’ arrival in 1571, the church was used as a grain store and general market – 'bedestan' is the Ottoman name for a covered market – but was basically left to disintegrate.

More recently, at a cost of two million EU-funded euros, this magnificent building was restored to its former glory and was recognised with the prestigious Europa Nostra Award for cultural heritage in 2009.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby North Nicosia (Lefkoşa) attractions

1. Kıbrıs Türk İslam Eserleri Müzesi

0.01 MILES

This museum has a small but beautiful collection of Turkish carpets that is worth popping in and having a look at if you're a textiles fan. It's tucked…

2. Bandabulya

0.02 MILES

Dating back to the early 20th century, this covered market has a mix of produce stalls piled high with fruit and vegetables for local shoppers, craft…

3. Selimiye Mosque

0.02 MILES

North Nicosia’s most prominent landmark (also clearly visible from the southern half of the city), the Selimiye Mosque is a beautiful mongrel of a…

4. Eaved House

0.07 MILES

Unique for its wide eaves, this house is a combination of Lusignan and Ottoman architecture and now functions as an art and culture centre hosting…

5. Lapidary Museum

0.09 MILES

Housed in a lovely 15th-century building, exhibits of the medieval-era stonework here include a varied collection of column capitals, stelae, and a Gothic…

6. Büyük Han

0.09 MILES

The Büyük Han is Cyprus' best-preserved example of Ottoman caravanserai architecture. Built in 1572 by the first Ottoman governor of Cyprus, Lala Mustafa…

7. Kumarcılar Han


This caravanserai is a smaller version of the neighbouring Büyük Han and was built in the early 18th century. Today its courtyard hosts cafes, and the…

8. Haydarpaşa Mosque

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The second-most important Gothic structure in North Nicosia after the Selimiye Mosque, this building began life as the 14th-century Church of St Catherine…