Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bedestan - Nicosia

In its 3000 years existence, Nicosia or Lefkosia, as it is called by the locals, has been built, rebuilt, and expanded many times over the centuries, and there are hundreds of monuments, churches, and palaces built in and around the city, reflecting the many rulers and historical periods that the city has endured. One such architectural wonder is The Bedestan, which means covered market.

The Bedestan was originally a 12th century Byzantine church referred to as The St Nicholas Church. It was enlarged, modified, and expanded, first by the Lusignans and later on by the Venetians. It was later handed over to the Greek Orthodox Church to be used as a church. During the reign of the Ottoman Empire, the Bedestan was used as a grain store and cloth market and that’s how the original Byzantine church acquired its name of a covered market.

The Bedestan is an amalgam of different styles of architecture like the Byzantine, Venetian, and Gothic. Although the monument was damaged in severe earthquakes over the centuries and was allowed to deteriorate over the years, it is being restored now to recover some of its lost glory. You can visit the Bedestan and still see the medieval tombs with the coat of arms of the crusading knights – The Knights Templar, who ruled over Nicosia for a few years.

You can also see some of the masonry of the northern entrance to the Bedestan, which resembles the masonry at the entrance of the Cathedral of St. Sophia. Inside the Bedestan you can see some fallen columns and pillars of different architectural styles, and an exquisitely carved Gothic door. With the on going restoration, the Bedestan will acquire its lost glory and will soon be open to the public.

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