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Girne Bandabuliya,

Kyrenia, North Cyprus

The Kyrenia Bandabuliya
Girne Bandabuliya

The Kyrenia Bandabuliya is located in the centre of Kyrenia, close to the Round Tower. After renovation, it opened in September 2006.

The building was originally constructed in 1878 during the British colonial rule as the city hall, and had an outdoor market adjacent. During the winter months, the authorities converted part of the building into an indoor market, making it the first stone building to house an indoor market.

Craft shops at the Girne Bandabuliya
Craft Shops

As late as the 1970s, the marketplace was home to a large number of greengrocers, butchers and fishmongers. However, the arrival of supermarkets, and the opening of a another municipality market, robed the Bandabuliya of a considerable amount of trade. By 1990, it had ceased to function as a market, although the butcher held on till 1998 and the small coffee shop remained. It was then used by the municipality for storing redundant equipment, and more recently as a rubbish store. The building was allowed to fall into disrepair, even  though it was "listed".

The dilemma the council had was, simply, what to do with the building. As it was listed, they could not demolish it and start again. It would require sympathetic treatment to transform a 19th century building into the 21st century. Many ideas were floated and the building could have been used as a cinema or a car museum. However nothing got further than the drawing board.

Reproduction of the Kyrenia Ship
Reproduction Kyrenia Ship

In August 2005, the decision was finally taken to restore the Bandabuliya as a market and a tourism and craft centre, with a pedestrian area for dining and drinking. This proved easier said than done. Structurally, the building would not have survived another year. It contained so much wet and dry rot, that it was in danger of caving in. The roof turned out to have been covered with asbestos tiles, and need specialist treatment to remove and dispose of them. Apart from the structure, the interior had to be cleared of rubbish, a task that took 40 lorries.

During renovation, as much of the original material as possible was reused. As you look around, you will see the old staircase ironwork above doorways. The available sandstone was recycled. the butchers' blocks were split and used for steps, the old meat pulleys were cleaned an reused. Even the holes left by the original scaffolding were used to hold hanging baskets. Where items could not be reused, the new was matched to the original wherever possible.

The outdoor coffe shop at the Kyrenia bandabuliya
The Coffee Shop

The first thing you notice when you enter the Bandabuliya, is the reproduction of the ancient sailing vessel preserved in Kyrenia Castle. The section of this vessel was done in the style of the original builders, and placed in the centre of the building, breaking it up and making the atmosphere more intimate.

Inside the building there is an ice cream parlour and snack bar along one side. Along the other side and end of the building are lock-up retail units run by local business people selling such things postcards, jewellery, local Cypriot souvenirs, arts and crafts and so on. There is also a bar which along with the usual fare also offers fresh fruit and vegetable juices. Above, at the rear, there is a 70 seat restaurant open for lunch and dinner. Throughout the Bandabuliya there is a wireless hotspot.

There is live music at the Bandabuliya every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from about 8pm.

And the original shopkeepers? The Fishmonger and coffee shop are already back, and the Butcher should be there soon.


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