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Presidency Building and Its History

As a matter of fact, different names were given to the bastion, where the office of the President is located now. In 1567, when the walls of Nicosia were built by the Venetians, the bastion was named after “Quirini”, one of the royal families’ name. After 1570 when the Ottomans conquered Nicosia, the name was changed to "Cephane"(ammunition) since an ammunition-store was found there.

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The figure of two lions, which are the emblem of the British Colony in Cyprus, was assembled at the top of entry door  of the Office of the President. In fact, the figure of two lions are emblem of Duke of Normandy and lionhearted British King Richard. The reason for using this emblem in Cyprus is to emphasize the continuation of Britain’s colonial administration period governed by Lionhearted Richard, which had begun in 1878 in Cyprus.
 
Different Names of Silihdar Bastion
It is known that names of certain places have changed depending on  new usages in the course of time or depending on pronunciation styles among producers and people. As a matter of fact, different names were given to the bastion, where the office of the President is located now.

In 1567, when the walls of Nicosia were built by the Venetians,  the bastion was named after “Quirini”, one of the royal families’ name.  After 1570 when the Ottomans conquered Nicosia, the name was changed to "Cephane"(ammunition) since an ammunition-store was found there.

At the end of a.d XVIII century and in the beginning of a.d.XIX. century, Cypriot Governor of provincial district , Armourer Mustafa Ağa led to bring water source to Silâhtar for charitable contribution.  Since the water line went through “Girne Kapısı” and “Cephane” bastion, the bastion was known first as “Silâhtar” but in the following years the name was pronounced  as “Silihdar” and this name has become commonly used.  During the British colony, since the artillery shooting was made there, the bastion is also known with the name of “Top Hisarı” (Artillery Wall).
 
Naming of the bastion as Silahdar
The bastion which is known as “Silihdar” and also “Silâhtar” took its name from the title of Cypriot Governor of provincial district, Armourer Mustafa Ağa who brought water of Silahdar- the second largest water source of Nicosia- to people living in Nicosia at the end of a.d XVIII century and in the beginning of a.d.XIX. century.  The Silihdar water source which has completely dried out now, was located between Cikko Monastery Medoş which is about 1 mile (1.6 km) south of Nicosia and Agii Omoloyitadhes region. The water first reached to Kanlı Dere bridge next to the southern Nicosia General Hospital by pits, arches and aqueducts then continuing from the outer walls and entering into Nicosia through Kyrenia Gate.

A distribution system was established in Quarini bastion- whose remains still exist- for the water sources in Silihtar bastion in order to support urban fountains on the street until reaching the Archbishop's cistern next to the Famagusta Gate. In 1796/97 (1211 H) a street fountain with an inscription with marble was made there by Silahtar Mustafa Ağa,  for this reason, this bastion has been known with the name of “Silihdar” from the Ottoman period to present. There are ten sewers which make Silahdar water distribution from the bastion to the houses on the route of Inönü Square in east, Istanbul and Reşadiye Streets and Aykasyano district. Only 1928 date was recorded on the Aykasyona sewer.
 
Building a residence for Commissar to Nicosia at the Silihdar Bastion
As it is told, the land of Silihdar bastion belonged to Muttalib Efendi who was a wealthy person. Since Commissar to Nicosia did not have residence, it was decided to purchase the land and build a residence together with Governor’s residence which was burnt in 1931. Thus the construction of the residence plotted by the Public Works Department architect Robert Macartney was completed in 1939. 

Thetwo-storey and cruciform architecture was formed  in consideration of the bastion’s   heart shape . The residence was built rather in the back in order not to be conspicious from the city wall.

At the top of entry door of the residence, figure of two lions, which are the emblem of the British Colony in Cyprus, was assembled. In fact, the figure of two lions are emblem of Duke of Normandy and lionhearted British king Richard. The reason for using this emblem in Cyprus is to emphasize the continuation of the British colonial administration period governed by Lionhearted Richard, which had begun in 1878 in Cyprus. This emblem is also found in Court House in Lefke and in the Cyprus stamp of 1928 for celebrating the 50th anniversary of British Administration in Cyprus as well as in Silver 1928 Cyprus George V 45 Piastres.
The building had been used as the residence of Commissar to Nicosia until 1960 when Cyprus gained independency.  In 1960, when the Republic of Cyprus was founded, Vice President of the Republic of Cyprus Fazıl Küçük applied to the President of the Republic of Cyprus Makarios and asked for allocation of the building which is next to the Ledra Palace Hotel and was used as the Greek Embassy at that time, for himself to use as a flat,. In fact, this building belonged to Chief Prosecutor Tirantaphyillides. However, this building was sold to Greece for £ 42,000 by President Makarios to be used as the Embassy of Greece. Therefore, since, Dr. Fazıl Küçük could not use this building as a flat, he started to use the residence of Commissar to Nicosia. Since 15 November 1983,this building has been used as the Office of the President.

(It is compiled by research writer Tuncer Bağışkan.)