The Bedestan in Nicosia, North Cyprus.
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Othello Castle Walls
Othello Castle Walls
photo by: Dolan Halbrook
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The Bedestan

photo by: TRNC Ministry of Tourism
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The Bedestan was originally a small sixth-century Byzantine church, before the church of St Nicholas of the English was added to it in the twelfth century. The newly extended church was associated with the cult of Sir Thomas à Becket, the archbishop famously murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170.  During the occupation by the Venetians, the church became the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Nicosia, but the Ottoman invasion changed its usage, as so often happened at that time. The church became a grain store and cloth market, hence its name, and gradually fell into disrepair.

UN Restoration Programme for the Bedestan in North Nicosia

Thanks to a UN sponsored restoration programme, the Bedestan is being restored, and has passed its expected completion date of December 2005. The work includes the rebuilding of the collapsed roof, and restoration to the floor, vaults, original doors and windows. The project also involves cleaning and repairing of the walls, and reinforcement of the main structure of the monument, plus landscaping around the area and floodlighting at night.

The Nicosia Master Plan really is helping restore Nicosia as a premiere North Cyprus holiday destination once again.

Bedestan Restoration
photo by: UNDP
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As the restoration progresses, you’ll be able to really see the mix of Byzantine, Gothic and Venetian architecture that makes up this unusual building. Its style owes much to its big next-door neighbour, St Sophia’s, and the Bedestan’s north façade echoes St Sophia’s in its main arched doorway. The gargoyles on this façade still grimace as they have done for centuries, diverting rainwater away from the roof as it gargles (literally) down their stone throats. Look out particularly for the stone dragon, with his scaly neck and folded wings.

At the corner of the complex, lies the medieval imam’s house, which houses a stored collection of medieval tombstones and costs-of-arms from all over Northern Cyprus.

Try to come to the Bedestan around lunchtime on your North Cyprus holiday sightseeing in Nicosia, as you’ll never be able to resist the kebab restaurants nearby whatever the time of day!

Pictures of The Restoration of Bedestan can be seen from this address: