Gamblers Inn to be restored

The second stage of the restoration project for Gamblers Inn, located in Nicosia, began yesterday.

The restoration is planned to be complete in April 2014. This second stage will take 10 months and cost TL 1.5 million. This is being funded by the Ministry of Tourism and the work will be carried out by tender winner Ceman Construction.

There will be 36 tourist orientated outlets, including craft shops, exhibitions and restaurants.

The Kumarcilar Han, also called the Gambler’s Inn, is just 100 yards or so north of the Buyuk Han, in Asmaalti Square,

These Turkish inns used to be very common in Cyprus, but most have been destroyed or altered, so these two are the best preserved now on the island.

It was built around 1600 as a hotel for travellers. Like all caravanserais (inns for travellers), you entered via a gateway right into the heart of the inn, a large courtyard. Here, merchants would arrive with their camels, donkeys or horses after a long journey in the Cyprus sun.

Much smaller than the Buyuk Han, the Kumarcilar Han is nonetheless typical of an Ottoman inner city commercial inn. It is not known exactly when the inn was built, but it is thought to be around the end of the 17th century. In the middle ages, merchants used to group themselves together according to their trades. When travelling, merchants from the same town or trade would favour certain hans, which would tend to assume the name of that town or trade. The Gambler’s Inn was originally known as the Violinist’s or Fiddler’s Inn. It’s not known when, or indeed why, the name changed.

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