The Great Inn (Buyuk Han)
Built to provide accommodation for travellers from Anatolia and other parts of Cyprus the Inn was originally named “Alanyalilar’s Han”. Later on, when the Gamblers’ Inn was built nearby in the 17th century, it began to be called as the Great Inn, due to the comparison between the two.
The Inn is resembles all the other Anatolian inns, although the Great Inn is different in having two entrances.
Externally, the Inn looks like a fortress. It actually used to be the Nicosia CentraI Prison during the old colonial days. The windows of inns were high up in general, partially to prevent marauders from watching the rich merchants staying in, and partially because glass was very expensive.
The square planned, two storey Great Inn 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 Inn. An Ottoman Mesjid stands on marble piers, with a fountain beneath it in the centre of the courtyard.
The Great Inn has two entrances, east and west. The rooms on the ground floor each have a low-arched door, an arched window and a hearth. These rooms were originally used as shops, store rooms and offices. At the east side of the inn, to the left of the entrance, there is a groin vaulted gallery, and to the right, a barrel vaulted one.
Two symmetrical stone stairways at the northwest and southeast corners of the courtyard lead to the upper floor. Here the rooms, which were originally the bedrooms of the inn, have low-arched doors with machicolations on top. There are also windows facing the outside of the inn with loopholes above, hearths with octagonal chimneys, and niches. The room which falls on top of the main entrance is larger than the rest, and its door when opened, extends all the way to the gallery.
The outer and inner walls of the inn are formed of layers of hewn stone. On the walls, there are stone rainspouts. The building is supported by two buttresses on each of the four corners. There are hexagonal chimneys on top of the barrel vaulted roof with wedge-shaped covers indicating the hearths.
From 1893 to 1961, the Inn was used as a hostel for poor families. In 1963, the south colonnade was completely demolished and the south west corner rebuilt without any regard to the original style. The inn was opened After the events of 1963, the inn was opened in its original style to visitors in 2002, and is now one of the Island’s finest buildings.
The Great Inn attracts many visitors, both locals and tourists, with several cafes and various shops selling shawls, traditional handicrafts, paintings, pottery and carvings. Also there are many social activities during the day and night such as live concerts, wedding ceremonies, folklore dance shows, piano recitals, drama shows and many others within the walls.