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Παρασκευή, 18 Μαΐου 2007

THE CARAVANSARAIS OF CYPRUS

The "Hanin", in other words the inn, or caravansarai was a type of hotel of earlier times in Cyprus. They were buildings of great importance, especially in public use. Used for shelter by overnight travellers, they acted as resting places, with a roof above your head, a meal, and stables for horses being the main provision. The Hanin owner offered his service against which a small remuneration was provided. In ancient Greece they were known as guest houses, whilist in Roman times they were called 'hospitum'. During the Christian era, guest houses operated from monasteries, were it was usual to enjoy their free hospitality. Overnight travellers, moving from one town to the next, were the majority of clientele using these resting places. The roots of operation of hostels in Cyprus can be traced back to the ancient days, where they were used by many pilgrims arriving to visit theTemples of Aphrodite and of Apollo, in Paphos and Curium respectively. The word Hanin appears in Cyprus during the period of Turkish rule (1570), and it was during this period that they had began to be built, many of which still remain standing in different parts of the island until today. Many of these constructions today are monuments of a past era in themeselves. Few of them, being highly luxurious, accepted caravans of travellers of which a famous one being the "Caravan of Serai". Other types of Hanin, during the period of Frankish rule, where the ones that served to the caravans consisting of camels, which due to the height of the animals, had taller construction than other types of building, resulting in differences in the basic architecture. Around the 19th century it was known that a least 5 Hans were in operation in Nicosia, and older sources reveal that a large Hanin existed in Limassol which was of as great an importance as the one in Nicosia. This building today, does not stand, so its exact location is not known. The most splendid Hanin in Nicosia was "Buyuk Han", and its location is within the walls of the Turkish Cypriot section of Nicosia, near the church of St. Sophia. Buyuk Han was built on the site where a large medieval construction existed. This building had propably received much damage during the plight in Nicosia against the Turks in 1570. The Hanin had acted, for a period of time, as the central police prisons of Cyprus, before being converted to a Hanin again. Buyuk Han was a large square construction, two floors high and set arround a large, square, open-air courtyard. There were 68 rooms on each floor, each of which opened out towards the courtyard, and which were accessed via two outside staircases. On the ground floor there were also 10 rooms which acted as stores, because the Hanin also operated as a market and a place to exchange goods. The use of the Hanin as a commercial centre, meant that merchants would gather from surrounding areas, searching for the opportunity to sell their products. The clients' animal's would stay in the courtyard were there were feedings and watering troughs. Most of the rooms provided fireplaces, but not beds, as these would be carried around by the travellers. In Old Nicosia, Symeou Hani still stands, however, it is deserted. It is located within the walls of the city, near what is known today as the 'green line'. Sections of the east and north wings still exist, consisting of the ground and first floor, with verandas, and is housed within a wooden ceiling held up by wooden beams. Another well known Han in Nicosia, is the so called "Pantgarou Hani", from which a very well known, metaphorical phrase evolved -"it is the Hanin of Pantgarou", implying a home where people may come and go as they please, something very appropriately used in terms of Cypriot homes and families. Hania existed in the countryside and in between cities. Such a Hanin is that of Paramytha. It was built at the end of the 18th century and was near Paramytha village in the district of Limassol. It was proclaimed to be conserved and is expected to be maintained. This Hanin was small and built of mudbricks, consisting of a ground and first floor. The few rooms which were for customers were found on the first floor, and the ground floor was used as a storeroom. Hania continued to operate in Cyprus until the beginning of the 20th century, but by the end of the 19th century other small, types of hotels began operating in towns, soon replacing the Hania. The creation of the transport network, and the introduction of the automobile eliminated the caravans, trips with horse-draw - carriage, as well the Hania of the countryside.

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