Nicosia (Lefkosia in Greek) is the capital and the largest city of Cyprus and is situated in the centre of the island. After the 1963 intercommunal violence the city was divided by a green line into the Greek and Turkish sectors; the Turkish invasion in 1974 left the city divided since then. According to the 2009 estimates, the population of the city south of the Green Line is 313,400 and the population north of the Green Line is 84,893. Nicosia is the political, economic and culture center of Cyprus and the seat of the government, as well as home to five universities. The city was known in ancient times as Ledra. It was rebuilt around 300 B.C. by Lefkos, son of Ptolemy I, and was renamed Lefkothea, or Lefkosia after its founder. In the 11th century Lefkosia became the seat of the Lusignan Kings of Cyprus whose tombs are found in the Cathedral of Agia Sophia (Selimiye Mosque in the occupied Nicosia). The city was renamed Nicosia by the Lusignans who could not, or did not care to pronounce the name Lefkosia. The city became a Venetian possession in 1489, fell to the Ottomans in 1571 and served as the capital of the island during the British rule.
The best way to experience the history of the city is to visit the Venetian Wall. It was constructed between 1567 and 1570 and had three entrances to the city, those of Kyrenia, Paphos and Famagusta; Famagusta gate won the Europa Nostra award for its restoration and is now used as a cultural centre. Parts of the wall contain administrative offices such as the Town Hall, the Public Library and the Central Post Office which are found on the d’ Avila Bastion, near Eleftheria Square (Freedom Square). The moats below the bastions have been turned into gardens and serve as a venue for different events. Most of the historical landmarks are found in ‘Old Nicosia’, the part of the city that lies inside the walls.
Ledra Street: this is a paved pedestrian way with shops and restaurants and starts at Eleftheria Square; it is one of the busiest shopping centers of the city.
Laiki Yitonia: located close to Ledra Street, Laiki Yitonia is a 100 square meters area with narrow winding cobblestone streets lined with shops of Cypriot crafts, galleries, restaurants and coffee shops; the area was created in an effort to breathe life into the old city which has been abandoned after the Turkish invasion in 1974.
Here one shouldn’t miss to visit Levention Municipal Museum which hosts exhibits of the history of Nicosia and the Jewels Museum which displays traditional jewelry, ornaments and religious items. The Palace of the Archbishop: located at Archbishop Kyprianos Square, the Byzantine style Palace was built in 1960 and houses icons, manuscript and other religious treasures. Byzantine Museum: the museum is part of the Makarios III Culture Foundation (situated next to the Palace of Archbishop), and it houses about 150 portable icons representing different Byzantine icon painting techniques. Cathedral of Ayios Ioannis: the church with its beautiful frescoes is the seat of the Church of Cyprus and is located next to the Archbishop Palace. Folk Art Museum: the twelve rooms of the museum contain exhibits of traditional Cypriot embroidery, weaving, basketry, woodcarving, metalwork, pottery and agriculture tools. National Struggle Museum: it houses a collection of personal artefacts belonging to the EOKA fighters. Cyprus Museum: (located close to the Paphos Gate) the museum houses the island's most important collection of Cypriot antiquities and treasures from the Neolithic to the Roman Periods.
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Cyprus International Fair: the Cyprus International Fair is the largest trade show in Cyprus and takes place at the end of May. Cyprus Independence Day: is celebrated on October 1st to mark Cyprus’s independence. Pharos International Chamber Music Festival: a week long festival, held in May. It includes Chamber concerts and recitals given by some of the world’s best musicians. Aglandjia Festival: a 2 weeks long cultural festival which includes dance, theatrical and music performances; it is held from the middle of June to the beginning of July. Rainbow Festival: an anti-racism multicultural festival that brings together people of various communities; it takes place in November at Eleftheria Square Park in the center of Nicosia.
|Famagusta and Kyrenia|