• Nicosia

    Nicosia (Lefkosa or Lefkosia)

    According to Assyrian sources from the 7th Century BC, today’s Nicosia then utilized to be a city called Ledra. In about 300 BC, the kid of the Egyptian king Ptolemy, Lefkos, restored the city, and his name is eternalized in the contemporary local name of Lefkosa (Turkish) or Lefkosia (Greek). Nicosia is the Frankish name of the city, and is thought to have actually appeared in the late 1100s.

    The name is mainly utilized by foreigners. The capital of the island, it is divided into Turkish and Greek sectors by a boundary known as the green Line, which runs in an East-west instructions.

    In 1191, Richard the Lionheart, on his way to the Holy Land throughout the Third Crusade, recorded the island as a response to actions versus his fleet by the King of Cyprus. It was in Cyprus that Richard wed Berengaria of Navarre, who was chosen as his spouse by his mother, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. Cyprus stayed under Richard’s guideline for only a year.

    In 1192, he offered it to the Knights Templars who ruled the island from Nicosia. Life under the Templars was extreme, and they quickly incurred the hatred of the islanders. Unable to hold the island by force, the Templars begged Richard to take the island off their hands, and he rapidly offered it to Guy de Lusignan who had lost his Kingdom of Jerusalem.

    Nicosia has been the capital city of Cyprus because this time, and it thrived during the Lusignan period. Churches and palaces were built, and Nicosia grew in size and population. This wonderful duration in the history of the city ended in 1489 when the Venetians recorded Cyprus.

    The Venetians destroyed the majority of the Lusignan monuments, including churches and palaces, and utilized the masonry to strengthen the city against the awaited Ottoman invasion. In 1567, right before the conquest of Cyprus by the Ottomans, the Venetians began to develop brand-new protective walls in place of the old Lusignan walls ringing the city, so as to be able to protect Nicosia.

    A popular Venetian engineer, Guillio Savorignano drew the plans for the walls. They were to have an area of three miles, 11 bastions, each like a castle, and 3 gates. The remnants of the walls still surround the old city today. The 3 gates were the Kyrenia Gate in the north, the Famagusta Gate in the east, and the Paphos Gate in the west. The Kyrenia Gate is still intact today, and stays as an attractive historical monument of northern Nicosia.

    In order to develop the walls, the Venetians destroyed homes, palaces, abbeys and churches outside the three mile area of the city, and utilized their stone in the construction of the walls. As a result, there is no trace of the middle ages settlement that when existed. However, their efforts did not prevent the island from being up to the forces of the Ottoman admiral Lala Mustafa Pasha in 1570, and therefore the Venetians were defeated by the Ottomans prior to they had time to complete the building and construction of the walls.

    After the conquest, the city got new vigour, and mosques, baths and other organizations to fulfill the requirements of its new masters were developed, and a new structure activity began. Yet, to our day, the city has kept its asian appeal of a serene sanctuary where softly and beautifully shaped palm trees overhang the roofing systems.

    In the old city, beautiful examples of Gothic and Ottoman architecture abound; the Selimiye Mosque, the Bedesten, and the Great Inn, to name simply a couple of. Recent years have actually seen a restored interest in urban regrowth which has seen lots of buildings affectionately restored as part of the Nicosia Master Plan.

    If your time in Nicosia is restricted, possibly the best way to get a flavour of the city is to take among the complimentary walking tours. These last for two hours, and look at the Mevlevi Museum, Samanbahce houses, The Venetian Column, the Great Inn, Selimiye Mosque, the Eaved House, Arasta and lots of other historic landmarks.

    These start at the Kyrenia Gate for North Nicosia, while a comparable trip begins at the TIC in the Laiki Geitonia location (off the southern end of Ledra Street) for South Nicosia. (Keep in mind, if you are going to cross from north to south, you will need your passport).

    Nicosia, the capital of both North and South Cyprus, is presently the most significant and most largely populated city on the Island. The developing, metropolitan, yet historic and charming city of Nicosia is the significant centre for arts, culture, diplomacy and company.

    For a thorough list of locations to check out, take a look at our Places of Interest areas for North Nicosia or South Nicosia.

    15 Best Things to Do in Nicosia (Cyprus)

    15 Best Things to Do in Nicosia

    Nicosia is the last capital on the planet to still be divided militarily, and the Green Line at Ledra will captivate visitors who would like to know what it resembles to cross a city checkpoint in the 21st century. On both sides of the divide there’s a lot to see, like the Selimiye Mosque, a hybrid of Christian and Islamic architecture, or the Cyprus Museum, the premier collection of ancient artefacts on the island.

    Nicosia’s an un-touristy, professional place, but offers you a genuine sense of metropolitan life in Cyprus. There’s no lack of friendly cafes and museums in the hectic old town, and amazing day trips to the north or mountains in the west. Let’s have a look at the best things to do in Nicosia!

    1. Selimiye Mosque
      Here’s the a little confusing sight of a mosque adjusted from a previous Gothic church. St. Sophia’s Cathedral, the original Christian structure, was begun throughout the crusades by the Lusignans, however never ever in fact finished, even though it was the foremost church on the island.
      Western eyes will recognise all the functions of a gothic church, consisting of the traceried windows and flying buttresses, but bestriding the front of the building are two tall turrets.
      The conversion to mosque occurred after the Ottoman conquest in the 1500s when most of the Christian iconography was removed.
    2. Cyprus Museum

      The island is a treasure chest of ancient civilisation; nearly every town has an excavation website close by.
      Many of the very best pieces discovered at these digs are on screen at the Cyprus Museum, the island’s biggest and finest historical exhibit.
      This is a gateway to Cyprus’ abundant history and what’s fantastic about the tourist attraction is that just pieces recuperated on the island are on display screen.
      The displays start in the Stone Age and conclude with the Roman period, featuring coins, sculptures, jewellery and daily family items, in addition to valuable treasures from the Ancient Greek Burial Places of Salamis.

    3. Byzantine Museum

      Lefkosia’s Byzantine Museum, in the grounds of St. John’s Cathdedral, is a thorough exhibition of Byzantine art covering practically 1,500 years.
      The earliest pieces are 7 mosaic pieces robbed from the northern Church of Kanakaria and offered abroad, but since brought back to the south.
      Likewise stolen and repatriated are 36 fragments of a 15th-century wall painting from a church in Kalogrea.
      There are also 230 icons, numerous richly decorated and dating between the years 800 and 1900. These delicious paintings are matched by a collection of vestments, books and spiritual vessels.

    4. Cypriot Coffee

      To see Nicosia through the eyes of a Nicosian you’ll need to park yourself at a street-side coffee shop and order a cup of standard (and really powerful) Cypriot coffee.
      This is brewed in a tall copper pot with a long deal with to manoeuvre it on the range. Sugar is added to the water and coffee powder while the water is still cold, and when you can purchase you’ll have the ability to select in between sweet (glykis), medium (metrios) and unsweetened (sketos).
      When you finish your coffee you’ll observe there’s a residue at the bottom of the cup: Make sure not to consume this!

    5. Ledra Street

      Generally Nicosia’s main shopping artery, Ledra Street was sealed off by the militarised limit in between north and south Nicosia after Bloody Christmas in 1963.
      The street was only reopened in 2008, and has now become a center for commerce once again. The reopening was a big step for the enhancing relationship between when irreconcilable parties.
      The Shacolas Tower on this Ledra Street has a public observation tower on its 11th floor, with a comprehensive view of the city and the north-south UN buffer zone as it ripples along the landscape.

    6. Famagusta Gate

      In the years preceding the Ottoman invasion of Cyprus the Venetians reinforced Nicosia’s defences and you can still see the walls and gates that they built.
      Famagusta Gate is the most outstanding piece of these old defences and is an exact copy of the Lazaretto Gate that was constructed by the Venetians for Candia on Crete.
      After being used for storage by the British it was brought back in the 1980s, breathing brand-new life in to the Tahl-el-Kale neighbourhood around it.
      Eviction has a two-lane passage lit from above by a dome that is based on Rome’s Pantheon, and today is a cultural centre where exhibitions are held throughout the year.

    7. Büyük Han

      After the Ottomans took control of Cyprus in the 16th century this wonderful caravanserai was one of the first things they constructed.
      A caravanserai is a kind of inn for merchants and other travellers, set around a central courtyard in the middle of which is a mosque, or small mosque.
      Büyük Han is two floors in height and has been perfectly restored over the last twenty years, after a couple of decades when it was utilized as a jail by the British. It’s now a centre for the arts, with galleries, studios and workshops.

    8. Folk Art Museum

      This exhibit of Cypriot art has a magnificent house, inside the city’s old Episcopal palace, which was integrated in the 1400s but has portions that return an even more 200 years.
      The museum was founded in the 1930s as part of an effort to preserve handcrafted embroideries, metalwork, lace, pottery, textiles and more after the advent of machine-powered mass production.
      There are 5,000 items in the museum’s collection and along with intricate ornamental pieces you can see historic farming carries out such as olive presses, water mills and threshing boards.

    9. Machairas

      Monastery Set 40 kilometres south of Nicosia is this delightful 12th-century abbey built in the middle-byzantine style.
      The abbey takes its name from a renowned painting of the Virgin Mary by Luke the Apostle, which legend has it was smuggled here from Asia Minor to Cyprus by a hermit.
      The monastery is a central church confined by a rectangle-shaped yard with cloisters all around.
      These sensational buildings in front of a landscape of dark pinewood hills is one of the most gorgeous scenes in Cyprus.
      The picture alone is worth the journey, but the church’s interior is delightful with opulent frescoes, icons and gilded chandeliers.

    10. Fikardou

      Around 45 minutes southwest of Nicosia is this little upland village that today just has three locals.
      Fikardou has been left untouched and is currently being considered for UNESCO status as the settlement is a perfect example of conventional Cypriot rural architecture.
      The village was occupied from the 400s, however by the 1800s Fikardou’s population was decreasing.
      What is left is a Cypriot community before electrical energy and automobiles got here on the island.
      On a go to you might invest your time negotiating the village’s high paths are flanked by charming stone houses topped with fading red terracotta tiles.

    11. Pivo Microbrewery

      Nicosia’s only brewpub, Pivo was set up by three bros and their cousin who discovered their craft in the Czech Republic, the home of lager.
      At Pivo, you can sample 4 beer varieties (pilsner, Bavarian weiss, dark lager and American IPA) directly from the tank unfiltered and unpasteurised.
      These four pillars are joined by a series of seasonal and restricted edition beers, so whenever you visit you’ll have something various to try!
      There’s an excellent menu of Cypriot favourites to couple with you beer and the old-town setting is likewise part of the charm: Pivo is a 100 year-old manor house with marble archways, stone walls and wooden furnishings.

    12. Whirling Dervish Performance

      On the northern side of Nicosia take a look at a spiritual routine practiced for centuries.
      At Tekkes, spiritually considerable meeting places, men who practice the Sufi form of Islam gather for a type of dance that is distinct in the Islamic world.
      A performance will last for around half an hour, in which Dervishes in long white bathrobes and conical hats will spin on the spot.
      For the spectator it’s an emotionally-charged spectacle, particularly when integrated with live musicians and vocals. For the Dervishes it’s a type of moving meditation, and as soon as they start they’ll barely even see you’re there.

    13. Kyrenia

      On the North Cyprus coast, Kyrenia is a gorgeous little port town framed by the powerful peaks of the Pentadaktylos Mountains.
      The harbour was fortified by the Venetians who boosted its enforcing fortress with thick roundels that have made it through for almost half a millennium.
      You might take a trip of the old town’s narrow streets and take dinner by the water to round off a perfect excursion.
      If you check out Kyrenia in June you can be familiar with the town’s Turkish culture when a range of Turkish and worldwide bands put on performances.

    14. St. Hilarion Castle

      St. Hilarion Castle
      High above the road that snakes down to Kyrenia is this astounding building that is worthy of an hour of your time.
      From a distance this castle, that secured the historical mountain pass in between Nicosia and Kyrenia, can be hard to select from the white stone bluffs that protect it.
      Once you’re on the website it’s a real pleasure to explore the fragmented staircases, walls and towers, while the view encapsulates a massive sweep of the northern coast.
      St. Hilarion started out as an upland hermitage, however the Byzantines and after that the Lusignan’s fortified the complex to prevent Arab seaside raids.

    15. Panagia Asinou

      The Troodos Mountains are southwest of Nicosia, and together with their remarkable scenery the pine-covered slopes of this range hide some remarkable pieces of Byzantine heritage.
      The must-see is an ensemble of ten middle ages churches with murals that have made UNESCO World Heritage status.
      The most accessible from the capital is Panagia Asinou outside Nikitari, 50 kilometres west of Nicosia.
      You will not regret the journey, as the whole interior walls are covered with Constantinople-inspired 12th century frescoes, as vibrant as the day they were painted.