A few steps more along the street, away from the front foor of the Kumarcilar Han, is the entry to the Buyuk Han (the Great Inn), a khan that has been fully repaired and seems magnificent because of it. This, the biggest of the caravanserais on the island, was constructed by the Ottomans in 1572, after a year they detained Cyprus from the Venetians. It was constructed on the instructions of Mustafa Pasha, the earliest Ottoman governor general of the island. From the exterior, the high windows of the downstairs rooms, although they were only stables, provided a protective sense to the building, and certainly their function was partially one of safety for the merchants and their goods from brigands and thieves. The British were not deliberate to notice its potential, and used it as Lefkosa's Central Prison in colonial times till 1893.
In the middle of the open yard is an octagonal miniature mosque with a fountain for pre-prayer ablutions. The other distinguishing characteristic of the khan is the high chimneys, topped with metal barbed cones, as each of the 68 upstairs rooms had an open fire for the merchants to stay warm at night. Lefkosa, unsympathetically hot in summer, exposed as it is to the limits of the basic, is also fiendishly cold in winter with icy winds. In the present day the khan has been revived as a prosperous arts centre, a superb gathering of galleries, workshops and ornaments. Where else could you expect to see a conventional show of Turkish Cypriot shadow theatre? With a couple of lovely courtyard cafés it's the ideal spot to pick up a few souvenirs or just have a break from sightseeing.