Tanzimat Street in Nicosia, North Cyprus.
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Tanzimat Street


Arabahmet Old House
photo by: Nick Leonard
[ enlarge photo ]

Tanzimat Street lies in the old Arabahmet district of North Nicosia, and contains some of the finest Victorian houses in Nicosia. It’s well worth a visit during your holiday in North Cyprus, if only for the strange feeling of déjà vu it might inspire!

Tanzimat Street: A Little Piece of England in old Nicosia

The whole area has been renovated and restored as part of the Nicosia Master Plan, devised to bring back to life the ancient parts of the city despite (and indeed in spite of) the Green Line division. The main feature of Tanzimat Street are the balcony houses, build for colonial officials between 1880 and 1920. These balconies, often with ornate ironwork, overhang the street and offered a cool place to sit of an evening, since the houses generally do not have gardens. Such a balcony also gave the occupants great views across the city; from these balconies you can see the Venetian walls and even the Ledra Palace. The whole effect gives this street a curiously European, even Dickensian feel to it, with a Mediterranean twist!

Water Fountains: The Ottomans and the Gossips

The Ottoman rulers of North Cyprus considered the finest monuments to their achievements to be their public works, such as the building of inns, mosques and water fountains. Ottoman water fountains used to be on every street corner in Nicosia, and one surviving example is on Tanzimat Street. Drinking water was drawn up from bore holes in the Morphou area (which you probably flew over on your flight to North Cyprus) and brought to these octagonal fountains all over the city.

To say "fountain" invokes a picture of jets of water thrown into the air, but this is a practical fountain, just plain panels with scripts from the Koran and taps to dispense the water, in this case, brass. The women of old Nicosia used to come to the water fountain not just to collect their daily supplies, but to have a good chat with their neighbours in the process! Unfortunately, the fountain now appears to be dry.

Learn more details on the Arabahmet district and Arabahmet Mosque.