Visiting Old Nicosia

The winds died down slowly over yesterday. Bob went to canasta club again. I stayed home and enjoyed reading in a sunny but sheltered spot. The weeather is so lovely really but glad the gales have ended.

Today we went into Nicosia (Lefkosa) for a look around the old town, the shops and the quaint streets near the bazaar. We drove straight in and managed to park very near the Great Inn (Buyuk Han). This is an old inn built for pilgrims in the Ottoman times. There are around 60 rooms arranged over two floors and each has a platform bed, a fireplace and a window. In the central courtyard is a small mosque chapel with a well beneath. In mordern times it has been restored as an arts and crafts centre with each little room set up as a shop for an artisan. There are also two traditional cafes in the courtyard. We generally go there first on any visit and have a coffee. The gates of the han are very large and tall as they were built to accommodate entry by camel.

It was such a lovely sunny day and it was good to sit there and rink in the atmosphere and watch the visitors and the walking tours moving through. After coffee we had a walk around the shops.

We also visited the nearby newly restored Gamblers Inn or Kumarcılar Han. It is considerably smaller than the Buyuk Han, and originally had 56 rooms, although it is thought the lower ones were used for animals. It has been in considerable disrepair so it was great to see it all restored and with a cafe open in the ground floor.

We walked through the bazaar and Bob bought a couple of very nice cotton shirts and a new pair of lightweight black trainers. They claim to be Adidas but obviously are not, or not obviously as they are a very good copy I would think. We did a bit more Christmas shopping and walked around the covered market which has some artisan stalls but is mainly fruit, veg, nuts and Turkish delight.

Finally we stopped for lunch at a kebab house very near the Selimye Mosque that was once a cathedral. It is shut at the moment undergoing a very large scale renovation, mainly to the main minaret. Anyway, we enjoyed our kebabs. I had chicken, Bob had doner. Very tasty and good value. We were joined by a huge crowd of neighbourhood cats and kittens who sat patiently watching us, just hoping for a dropped morsel. They looked very well fed so must be being fed!!!

Headed for home again after lunch and got back around 2pm. Nicosia is well worth a visit on any day other than the heat of high summer. We always go at least once and enjoy the old town so much, especially if we can see the Dervish performance. I do recommend it. You can walk across the land border on the edge of the bazaar into Ledra Street, the main shopping street of the Greek side of Nicosia. I don’t recommend this really unless you would enjoy an afternoon visiting Basingstoke. The same run down high street shops we see in the UK with no charm at all. Stay in the old Turkish side if you go and enjoy some exotic shopping.


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