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Bedesten Church and Mosque

Located in the Selimiye quarter of North Nicosia, right beside the Selimiye Mosque, Bedesten or Bedestan is a historical building with a long and complicated history going back more than one thousand years. Originally built as a church in about the 6th century, it was turned into a bedesten, a type of covered market, during the Ottoman period. It is today used as a culture centre.

Typically quite different from other bedestens in the Ottoman Empire, Bedesten of Nicosia consists mainly of a mix of Byzantine and Gothic architecture, the latter being added by the Lusignans, but also incorporates elements of Renaissance French, Venetian and probably Spanish architectural styles. It uses a cross-shaped structural style and layout that belongs to the Byzantine style, yet incorporates a nave with a high ceiling that belongs to the Gothic style. The southern double nave is a remnant of the Byzantine church and its middle section is the oldest part of the building. The exterior of the nave in the north has the most ornate decorations and stonework in the building. This façade is across the front arches of the Selimiye Mosque and is the side where the entrance is located. The entrance is through a very ornate Gothic-style gate, with elements of the Italian Renaissance architecture added later and a statuette of St Nicholas. Coats of arms are located on both sides of the entrance. This façade also has numerous animal statuettes and gargoyles.

Bedesten of Nicosia was renovated between June 2004 and 2009 by the UNDP PFF, funded by the EU and the Evkaf Administration. The walls were cleaned and the vaults strengthened using traditional building materials and techniques. In 2009, it was reopened as a cultural center. Weekly sufi dance shows are held in this culture cantre as well as the Nicosia Walled City Jazz Festival.

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