Nicosia, the capital city in the heart of Cyprus
Without a doubt, the 1000 year old capital should be on every visitor’s agenda. It lies roughly in the centre of the island, within easy reach of the other towns. A day in Nicosia will be a day well spent.
To walk through the old city is to step backwards in time. Narrow streets and old houses with ornate balconies jut from weather beaten sandstone walls, and craftsmen in small workshops practice trades unchanged for centuries.
Apart from the unique places of interest left from the ancient times with memories of many generations, the present Nicosia is a dynamic metropolitan city with highly developed infrastructure and an attractive modern look. The uniqueness of such combination makes the capital of Cyprus a place worth knowing and certainly a place worth visiting!
This museum was established to collect, study and display archaeological artifacts from all over the island. Some of the exhibits are as old as 8,500 years. The museum is arranged in chronological order. The first hall contains pottery and implements from the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods whilst the other rooms trace the history of Cyprus through the ages from the Bronze Age, Hellenic Period, Mycenaean times, and Roman Period to the early
Byzantine. A unique feature of the museum lies in the basement, where several graves rest in a dark cellar complete with skeletal remains and grave adornments that have been reconstructed.
The largest collection of icons on the island of Cyprus is displayed in the Byzantine Museum in the Old City of Nicosia. The icons date from the ninth through to the 18th centuries. The museum also contains an art gallery exhibiting oil paintings, maps and lithographs.
Folk Art Museum
The colorful collections in this museum represent Cypriot folk art of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and include wood carvings, jewellery, woven goods, tapestries, embroidery, pottery and national costumes. The museum is housed in the Old Bishopric in a 15th-century Gothic building that used to serve as a Benedictine Monastery and then became the palace of the Archbishop.
Old City Walls
The walls that completely encompass the Old City date from the Venetian occupation in the 16th century, and have a circumference of three miles (five km). Eleven heart-shaped bastions are interspersed along the walls, which have only three gates, in the north, south and east. One of the gates, the Famagusta Gate, has been restored and serves as the Lefkosia Municipal Cultural Centre, used for exhibitions, conferences, lectures and occasional performances.
The gate’s vaulted passage leads on to the moat encircling the Old City, which has been planted to create a garden.
The oldest documentation we have concerning Nicosia within the walls, dates back to 1567, when the Venetians took over the island, and built the fortification with the eleven bastions, that one can still see today. The town planning was a result of a way of living: narrow streets with houses built next to each other.
The buildings we see today basically date from the end of the 18th and 19th centuries, and they have all the characteristics of houses built within fortifications. Their design is also proof that architecture has managed to combine both worlds, the East and the West. Greek, French, Venetian and Turkish details, all mix in a typical Cypriot expression. The basic materials used for the buildings were wood, sandstone, and mud brick. The combination of all these different materials gives us today an example of fine architecture.
Nicosia (Greek Levkosía) the capital of Cyprus, is now Europe’s only militarily divided city. One of the world’s oldest cities, Nicosia was the center of an independent kingdom as early as the 7th century BC. Known in ancient times as Ledra, it came under Byzantine rule in the early 4th century AD and passed to Guy of Lusignan, the Latin king of Jerusalem, in 1192. The Lusignan kings held Nicosia until it was captured in 1489 by the Venetians. The city passed to the Ottoman Turks in 1571 and to the British in 1878. It was made capital of British-ruled Cyprus in 1925. Nicosia became the capital of independent Cyprus in 1960. The city has been divided into Turkish and
Greek Cypriot zones since the Turkish invasion in 1974. Then there is the old town and Laiki Yitonia , where the paved areas with no cars and pavement cafe’s is charming and full of character and a must for the visitor who wishes too see what the town looked like in years gone by. Nicosia , as all the other towns of Cyprus have grown very much larger , very quickly, and since the invasion in 1974 the population has boomed to 165,000. The growth has been outwards over the Mesaoria plain.
The old town is a picturesque fusion of 16th-century walls, pedestrian precincts, pavement cafes and squares, brimming with charm, character and sightseeing opportunities.The walls that completely encompass the Old City date from the Venetian occupation in the 16th century, and have a circumference of three miles (five km). Eleven heart-shaped bastions are interspersed along the walls, which have only three gates, in the north, south and east. One of the gates, the Famagusta Gate, has been restored and serves as the Lefkosia Municipal Cultural Centre, used for exhibitions, conferences, lectures and occasional performances. The gate’s vaulted passage leads on to the moat encircling the Old City, which has been planted to create a garden.