- Atatürk Square
Atatürk Square (or Sarayönü) was the political centre of Cyprus for
centuries, for the northern face of the square (now filled with ex-colonial
police barracks) was once filled by the Saray, the Gothic Palace of the governor
throughout the Frankish, Venetian and Ottoman periods.
In 1904 an unimaginative
British administration demolished this 700 year-old complex with its fine
apartments, arcaded courtyard and throne hall. Only a hexagonal Ottoman fountain
survived, to which a British colonial review stand was added in 1920s.
the centre of the square stands the Venetian Column, which was crowned by the
lion of St. Mark until toppled by the victorious Turks in 1570.
column, traditionally believed to be have been quarried from the temple of
Jupiter at Salamis, lay in the grounds of the Sarayönü mosque for several
centuries. The British re-erected it
during the First World War, when they were at war with the Ottoman Empire. They
decorated the new plinth with the two dates of the columns erection, 1550 and
1915, by a pair of maritime Empires that were each fated to rule Cyprus for
exactly the same period, 84 years.
The original Sarayönü mosque was demolished at the turn of the century and but
for its minaret, replaced by something Moorish. Horseshoe arches were used
freely both within and without, by an English architect who ignored Cyprus'
visible Ottoman, Byzantine, Gothic and vernacular traditions in favour of his
inadequate recollection of Andalucia. It is no longer used for prayer, and its
shaded outdoor benches make an inviting place for a quiet read.
Rogerson, B., (1994),
(1992), Northern Cyprus.