Cyprus // North Cyprus //

South of Ataturk Square

South of Ataturk Square, and north of the pedestrianized shopping streets that greet you on passing through the Lokmaci Gate (that is the Ledra Street crossing from the south), is an area of busy traffic and impressive buildings.

You can’t miss the Büyük Hamam (Great Baths) – it’s a fine stone building that looks as if it has sunk into the ground (whereas, of course, it’s the ground that has risen up from its original medieval level as successive layers of building have taken place). The baths were converted by the Ottomans from a Lusignan church, St George of the Latins, whose front portal is still the main entrance, and is approached down one of two flights of stone steps. Though it would be a particularly atmospheric place in which to bathe, it rarely seems to be open.

A minutes’ walk east of the Büyük Hamam is the Kumarkilar Han, or “Gamblers’ Inn”. Also called “The inn for merchants using donkeys” and “the inn for travelling musicians” the Kumarkilar Han is now in a sad state of neglect. Built around 1700, with 44 of its original 56 rooms surviving, it is crying out for renovation; only the front Gothic archway and door – probably dating from an earlier building – are in a good state of repair. Take a look from the street (you can’t get into the building), imagine what it would look like after renovation, then pass swiftly on to the Büyük Han down the street.