Büyük Han

Top choice historic building

in North Nicosia (Lefkoşa)

The Büyük Han is Cyprus' best-preserved example of Ottoman caravanserai architecture. Built in 1572 by the first Ottoman governor of Cyprus, Lala Mustafa Pasha, it was renovated in the early 1990s, and has once again become the hub of North Nicosia's Old City bustle. The courtyard is home to a couple of cafes, including the ever-popular Sedirhan, and traditional craft workshops are housed in the small cells leading off the 1st-floor balcony that originally served as the inn’s sleeping areas.

During the Ottoman period, hans (inns) like this one were used as hotels for travellers and traders. The ground-floor rooms rimming the courtyard functioned as stables for horses, storage areas and shops where traders could carry out their business.

The central courtyard has a mescit (Islamic prayer room) in the centre, which is balanced on six pillars over a şadırvan (ablutions fountain). This design is rare; it's found only in this han and two others in Turkey.