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Looking for Traces of the Ottoman Past in Pafos
01/03/2019
The Ottoman Turks ruled Cyprus for over three hundred years, from 1571 to 1878. During this period, Cypriots gradually moved away from a rural, agricultural life as trading in the coastal cities fostered urbanisation. If you look carefully, you can find architectural remnants of the Ottoman presence in Pafos. At the main archaeological site of Kato Pafos, for example, rest the remains of the Hamam at Agia Kyriaki. The bath complex includes two domed chambers for warm and hot bathing and two cool chambers under a barrel-vaulted roof; it was first built in the medieval period and later modified by the Ottomans. The Ottomans transformed another structure, likely of Frankish origin, into a hamam near the current Municipal Market; the building has been restored and includes an historical exhibit along with a coffee shop. The bathhouse served Christian and Muslim residents alike up to the 1950s. Near the northern entrance to the market sits the Camii-Kebir—the grand mosque. It, too, represents an Ottoman conversion of an older structure, in this case the Byzantine era church of Agia Sofia. Its minaret is currently under conservation by the UN and the EU. The most visible evidence of the Ottoman intervention into the town’s architecture is hiding in plain sight: the medieval castle of Pafos Harbour. Built by the Franks in the 13th century, it was later modified and then destroyed by the Venetians before the Ottomans restored it in 1592. Now it stands as a prime example of the layers of history revealed in Pafos.

 
 
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