The City of Nicosia (Lefkoşa), Cyprus -


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Nicosia, Cyprus

Nicosia (Lefkoşa)

The name of the capital city of Cyprus dates back approximately 2,250 years to the original settlement of Ledra, which was later renamed Lefkotheon, but was also sometimes referred to as Ledron. 

Sarayonu Square, NicosiaDuring the Byzantine period the name changed again to Lefkon, meaning poplar grove. There were a great many poplar trees lining the banks of the Pedeios river, so the name was quite apt.

Since the seventh century A.D., Nicosia has been the capital of Cyprus (except for a brief period during the Venetian period) because the Arab raids made so many coastal settlements unsafe. Nicosia was just far enough inland to escape the worst.

         Sarayönü Square

                    Kyrenia Gate                      Haydarpaşa mosque gallery

Huge, thick ramparts, built by the Venetians in 1570, encircle the city; the walls are three and a half miles long and have eleven towers and three gates. 

Within these walls are numerous remains from the middle ages and later periods. 

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Outside, there is no trace of the mediaeval settlement that once existed as as materials from those buildings were used at various points in time to restore and maintain the walls.

Charming character houses old NicosiaDuring the Ottoman period, the 19th century traveller Archduke Louis Salvator of Austria noticed that

"Nicosia is not divided into districts in the usual sense of the word; the only divisions that could be drawn would be by the different populations of the town. The Turks for instance, occupy the parts about the Gate of Famagusta, near the mosque of Tahta Kale, and especially those between the Gates of Kyrenia and Paphos. The Greeks have chosen principally the district between the Episcopal residence and Ayia Sophia for their dwelling-place, but are also sprinkled amongst the Turkish population between the Gates of Kyrenia and Famagusta. The Armenians are mixed up everywhere with the Turks"
 Charming houses of old Nicosia
Business/financial district, Nicosia - Iktisat Bank building

The present day capital of the island has a population of around 150,000 and it is divided into Turkish and Greek sectors by a boundary known as the `Green Line' which runs in an east-west direction.

In the old city of Nicosia, beautiful examples of Gothic and Ottoman architecture abound - the Selimiye Mosque, the Bedestan, the Arab Ahmet Mosque, and the Great Inn, to name but a few.

The recent years have seen a renewed interest and efforts for the urban regeneration of the old city of Nicosia. EC and UNDP's UNOPS have been instrumental in this drive which has seen many ancient, mediaeval buildings sympathetically restored and renovated. Some of these include: Bedestan, Samanbahçe quarter, Bandabuliya (green market), Selimiye quarter.

City Map of Nicosia, Cyprus City Map of Nicosia (north) to plan your visit to the city.  

Border Crossings between North and South Nicosia
Border Crossings between North and South NicosiaAt present there are two main border crossings between the two sectors of Nicosia.

Ledra Palace checkpoint (for pedestrians) which is in the city centre and Metehan (Ayios Dhometios) checkpoint which is for crossings by motor vehicles.

It is necessary to have your passport/ID card presented to the authorities at the border checkpoints. If you are an EU passport holder or have visa to enter the 'Republic of Cyprus' you should present your papers to the Turkish-Cypriot authorities at the border, fill in a white visa slip with your name, passport number and nationality and then you will be allowed to pass.

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