In north Nicosia is a big imposing building, the Buyuk Khan, or Great Inn. One of the first constructions erected by the Ottomans in 1572, this inn was one of the most luxurious inns in the Near East. If you look up towards the roof you can see the chimneys, one for each room. Now this was luxury!
The entrance leads you into a beautiful courtyard surrounded by arches on two stories. In the centre of the courtyard is a medrese, a quiet retreat where Moslems could sit and read the Q’uran. Next to it a tomb belonging to the man who built the medrese and the fountain under it. Buyuk Khan is today an artisan centre and full of life. You can have a meal or a coffee here. And you can decide what to call it! Greek coffee, byzantine coffee, Turkish coffee, Cyprus coffee, will still taste the same on either side of the divide and it still brings people together.
Look again at the capitals of the arches, they also vary in design. At the opposite look at the old wooden door with a smaller one within it. The khan would open at sunrise and close its doors at sunset. Whoever was late entering would come in from the “eye of the needle” the smaller door. And there was no way for their camels to come in!! Animals would have to stay outside.
Even today, every Saturday, around 11.00 in the morning a group of Greek and Turkish Cypriots get together at Buyuk Khan and have an open discussion about the Cyprus problem and whatever else is worth discussing under the sun. Anybody can join in! They are known by their opponents as the Traitors’ Club because they work against all odds to get rid of nationalism and bring the communities closer together.
The ‘Did You Know’ series is made possible with the support of OPAP (Cyprus) and Active Citizens Fund.