Nicosia - The Capital

Nicosia is the capital of Cyprus, a status it has enjoyed for 1000 years since the 10th century, though its beginnings date back 5000 years to the Bronze Age. It lies roughly in the centre of the island in the Mesaoria Plain, flanked by the beautiful northern range of Kyrenia mountains with its distinctive Pentadaktylos - the five finger mountain.

There are various suggestions as to the origin of the name Nicosia - or Lefkosia In Greek - but the most likely one is linked to the popular tree, the tall Lefki which once adorned the city. Seat of Government, Diplomatic headquarters and cultural centre of Cyprus, the capital presents two distinct faces:

the old, original part of the city, surrounded by sturdy Venetian walls over 400 years old, and a busy modern metropolis which has a population of 171.000 together with the suburbs.

Places of Interest

Ancient City Kingdom Of Idalion And The Byzantine Church At Perachorio

19 km south of Nicosia - The site of this ancient city kingdom has not yet been fully excavated, but on the high ground, outside the present village of Dhali, part of the ancient walls of the city can be seen. In this area Adonis, mythical lover of the goddess Aphrodite, was killed by a wild boar sent by her jealous husband. At the nearby village of Perachorio the church of the Holy Apostles contains very beautiful 12th century frescoes.

Panayia Chrysospiliotissa

Near Deftera village, 11 km southwest of Nicosia dedicated to Our Lady of the Golden Cave, the catacomb structure, an enlarged natural cave indicates the church, dates back to the early Christian period. Unfortunately its painted interior is badly damaged. A religious fair is held near the church on 15th August.

Tamassos

Tamassos, with its rich copper works, was a city kingdom of ancient Cyprus and of great importance throughout early history. Excavations have produced the Royal Tombs and copper workshops associated with Aphrodite Astarte.

Ayios Herakleidios Monastery

Politiko village, 1/2 km from the Royal Tombs When Saints Paul and Barnabas came to Cyprus, they were guided to Tamassos by Herakleidios, whom they later ordained as Bishop of Tamassos. He was martyred at the age of 60 and buried in the cave where he had lived and preached. The Monastery was founded in 400 AD, destroyed and rebuilt several times until Archbishop Chrysanthos renovated the church and cells in 1773. The skull and a bone from the hand of the saint are kept in a silver gilt case, in the church which is decorated with fine frescoes and icons.

Machairas Monastery

41 km south of Nicosia, through Deftera and Pera villages. Founded by two monks in 1148, when an icon of the Virgin Mary was found in a nearby cave. Set in a picturesque dip in the Makhairas Mountains it is the scene of a large religious fair on 15th August.

Archbishopric

Centre of the Cyprus Orthodox Church, the new Archbishopric built in a neo byzantine style in 1960, contains the private suite of the late Archbishop Makarios. Open to the public only on special occasions.

An important ancient city kingdom, and one of the most interesting and spectacular archaeological sites on the island with excavations still bringing new treasures to light. The magnificent Greco-Roman Theatre was originally built in the 2nd century BC and enlarged in the 2nd century AD. It is now fully restored and used for musical and theatrical performances.

House Of Hadjigeorgakis Kornessios

Patriarch Gregoriou Street near the Archbishopric. Originally a Venetian Building, it is probably the most important 18th century building in Nicosia. It was once the house of the Dragoman Hadjigeorgakis Kornessios. The house is being restored and will house the Cyprus Ethnographic Museum. Hadjigeorgakis Kornessios house won the Europa Nostra award in 1988.

Famagusta Gate

1The Venetian walls which completely encircle the old city have a circumference of 4,5 km and possess eleven heart-shaped bastions. There were only three entries to the city through gates, in the north, south and east. One of these gates, the Porta Giuliana, called the Famagusta Gate has been restored and is now the Nicosia Municipal Cultural Centre. The large imposing gate itself leads into a long passage with a central cupola, which cuts through the walls and comes out in the moat. On both sides are high, stonewalled guard-rooms. The restored passages and rooms are used for exhibitions, conferences, lectures and various performances. The old quarter of the town, close to the Famagusta Gate, is also being restored.

Chrysaliniotissa Church

Within walking distance from the Archbishopric, it is considered the oldest Byzantine church in Nicosia it is dedicated to Our Lady of the Golden Flax and is believed to have been built in 1450 by Queen Helena Palaeologos.

Omeriyah Mosque

Near the Old Municipal Market within the walled city. Converted into a mosque in 1571 by Mustapha Pasha, who believed that the original 14th century Augustinian church of St. Mary?s was built on the spot where prophet Omer rested when visiting Nicosia. Most of the original building was destroyed by Ottoman artillery. Engraved tombstones of the Lusignan period were used to re-floor the mosque. Remains of late Venetian building can be seen near the east end of the mosque.

Phaneromeni Church

Onassagoras street, within the old city. Built in I872 this used to be the largest church in Nicosia. The marble mausoleum to the east of the church contains the relics of he bishops and priests executed by the Turks in 1821.

Tripiotis Church

Solon Street, near Laiki Yitonia. Built by Archbishop Germanos II in 1695 this is an interesting example of the Franco-Byzantine style. The rich interior, the unusually wide iconostasis and silver covered icon indicates this was once a society church.

Laiki Yitonia

Restored pedestrian area within the walled city, east of Eleftheria Square, charming winding alleys with traditional houses and shops, restaurants, galleries, all lovingly restored as typical examples of Cypriot urban architecture of a bygone, more graceful age.

State Collection Of Contemporary Art

Corner Stassinos Ave and Crete street Representative collection of paintings and sculpture by Cypriot artists from 1930 to 1980.

St Pauls Anglican Cathedral Church

Though officially called a Cathedral, this is the parish church for Anglican residents, and was built in I893 in a style reminiscent of many English village churches.

Municipal Theatre

Museum Street, opposite the Cyprus Museum. This spacious theatre in neo classical style was completed in 1967. It has a seating capacity of 1200 and is used for performances by the Cyprus Theatrical Organisation, musical concerts and recitals, dance performances and for various ceremonies.

Kykko Metochi

Monastery dependency of the famous Kykko Monastery, dating from 1890.

Cyprus Handicraft Service

Athalassa Avenue The aim of the government run centre is to promote and improve traditional folk art and craft skills by helping artisans to improve their techniques and maintain the quality of their products. The Centre includes a showroom-shop with a wide selection of Cyprus handicrafts, and also shops in Laiki Yitonia and in all other towns.

The International Conference Center

In Nicosia you will find the most sophisticated Conference Centre on the island which accommodates more than 1000 delegates.

Phikardou

1 1/2km east of Gourri village. The whole village has been declared an ancient monument in order to preserve the remarkable woodwork and folk architecture of the 18th century houses. The house of Katsinioros and Achilleas Demetri some parts of which go back to the 16th century, have been restored as vivid examples of rural architecture and they received the EUROPA NOSTRA award in 1987.

Archangelos Michael Monastery

Off the Nicosia to Anthoupolis Road, 10 minutes drive from Nicosia. The church dates back to the Byzantine period, with rebuilding carried out in 1636 and in 1713 when it was purchased by Kykko Monastery. Founded by Archbishop Nikiforos whose tomb can be seen in the narthex of the church. The iconostasis dates to 1650 and there is a 1785 fresco of the Archangel Michael to whom the monastery is dedicated.

Ayios Panteleimon

1 1/2km north west of Agrokipia village. An 18th century monastery with a gabled roof, restored in the early 1960s and now serving as a retreat for three nuns

Peristerona

27 km from Nicosia on the Nicosia to Troodos road. The church, dedicated to Saints Barnabas and Hilarion, was probably erected in the early 10th century, and is an outstanding example of Byzantine architecture. Next to the church stands the Turkish mosque of Peristerona, witness to the long and peaceful co existence between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots of the village, and the whole of Cyprus in a time when Turkey had not yet adopted its partition and expansionist policy.

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