Walled City, Nicosia
The center of Nicosia lies within Venetian walls. Although there has been much modernization, most of the walled city has retained its traditional character.Within the walled city are many of Nicosia's most important sites, all of which can be toured on foot.One of Nicosia's most prominent shopping areas - Ledra Street - also lies within the walls.
St John's Cathedral
In the old center of Nicosia, a town of narrow lanes enclosed within a massive ring of Venetian walls, stands the Gothic St John's Cathedral, seat of the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus.This is one of the most-revered churches in Cyprus. Official services are held here, presided over by the Archbishop and in the presence of the political leaders of the country.This was once the Benedictine monastery where it is claimed that the finger of John the Baptist was preserved until the Mamelukes stole it. It then became a Greek Orthodox monastery and the present buildings were constructed in 1662 by Archbishop Nikoforos.The 18th century wall paintings inside depict scenes from the bible and the discover of the tomb of St Barnabas.
East of the Cyprus Museum of Folk Art is the Archbishop's Palace. In one of the buildings adjoining is an Icon Museum.The center of the Cyprus Orthodox Church, the New Archbishopric was built in a neo-Byzantine style in 1960. The Old Archbishopric houses the Folk Art Museum.The building was built in 1957 in Venetian style. It has Archbishop Makarios' bedroom preserved along with his heart, which is kept in a special case. It can be visited only on special occasions.Outside is a bust of Archbishop Kyprianos, who was hanged by the Turks in 1821. There is also a huge black statue of Archbishop Makarios.
Byzantine Museum & Art Galleries
Located in the Archbishop Makarios III Cultural Center, the museum has the largest collection of icons on the island, covering the ninth to 18th centuries. The art galleries contain oil paintings, maps and lithographs.
National Struggle Museum
The National Struggle Museum is located behind the Old Archbishopric. It contains documents, photographs and other memorabilia of the 1955-1959 National Liberation Struggle and from the 1974 Turkish invasion.
Address: Old Archbishopric, Plateia Archiepiskopou Kyprianou, Cyprus
Opening hours: Jul 1 to Aug 31: 8am-2pm; Closed: Sun, Sat
Sep 1 to Jun 30: 8am-2pm; Thu: 8am-5pm; Closed: Sun, Sat
Sep 1 to Jun 30: 8am-2pm; Thu: 8am-5pm; Closed: Sun, Sat
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Greek Orthodox Easter
Entrance fee: FREE
Archbishop Makariou III Cultural Center Library
In one of the buildings adjoining the Archbishop's Palace in Nicosia is an Icon Museum.
House of Chatzigeorgakis Kornesios
This former residence of the Dragoman Chatzigeorgakis Kornesios is the most important 18th century building in Nicosia. It won the 1988 Europa Nostra Award.The house is a fine example of Turkish architecture, with a closed balcony and impressive woodwork. Chatzigeorgakis was the great Dragoman of Cyprus during 1779-1809, the official interpreter of the island, a highly prestigious position. He later left for Constantinople and was arrested and executed in 1809. The house has now been restored. In the garden are fragments of tombstones, arches and the torsos of statues.
Address: Patriarchou Grigoriou, Cyprus
Opening hours: 8am-2pm; Sat: 9am-1pm
The Ethnographical Museum is upstairs in the former residence of the Dragoman Chatzigeorgakis Kornesios. One enters through a reconstruction of the original living room. Going in a counter-clockwise direction, in the first room are documents from Chatzigeorgakis' life, mainly his letters to various governors and consuls. The second room gives a history of the house and its restoration. There are then various paintings and family heirlooms, including weapons. Pictures of the last two members of the family are on the wall of a subsequent room. The remaining rooms are reconstructions of a study and a bedroom.
The most impressive sights in Nicosia are the Venetian Walls. Although they are crumbling in parts, they are still spectacular, being 2mi/3km in circumference. The Venetians built the current inner walls with their 11 bastions and three fortified gates: Famagusta, Kyrenia, and Paphos. From Famagusta Gate you can walk back to the main city along or close to the walls, passing by a huge statue of various bronze figures, known as the Statue of Liberty.In the moat there are several pleasant parks and gardens, the best being behind Famagusta Gate, where there are several sculptures.
Famagusta Gate & Nicosia Cultural Center
The Venetian walls which encircle the old city possess 11 heart-shaped bastions. The city has three gates. One of them, the Porta Giuliana called Famagusta Gate, is now the Nicosia Municipal Cultural Center. It is used for various exhibitions, conferences, lectures and various performances.It is the best preserved of the city gates and was always the most important entrance to the city. There is a long passage cut through the gate into the moat and on both sides are guard rooms. It is decorated with numerous coats of arms.
Near the municipal gardens is the Paphos Gate, a part of the Venetian walls surrounding the city. The gate marks the barrier between the Greek areas and the Turkish occupied areas. There is a U.N. watchpost here, and the area is often the scene of demonstrations, especially since Turkish authorities decided to build armaments on top of the gate.
Ledra Street is one of the most popular in Nicosia. It is the heart of old Nicosia, and has been pedestrianized, making it more accessible. The street makes up the shopping district of old Nicosia, with many little shops lining either side.The road comes to an abrupt end at an army sentry post. Behind the post is "no-man's land" and beyond that are the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus. Tourists can visit the sentry post and look through a small peep hole at the other side.
The Omeriye Mosque is located near the main municipal market, within the walled city. Converted into a mosque in 1571 by Mustapha Pasha, most of the original building was destroyed by Ottoman artillery. The door of the main entrance belongs to the 14th century Lusignan building.On the first floor are Lusignan tombstones, used by the Turks to refloor the building. The minaret is particularly tall and dominates this part of the city. It is still used as a mosque by visiting Moslems.
Eleftheria Square stands at the main thoroughfare between the old and new towns of Nicosia and is a good place for visitors to get their bearings. On the east side of the square is the D'avila bastion, which now houses the main post office, municipal library and the town hall.The square itself crosses the moat and is a busy place lined with the typical Cypriot newspaper kiosks.
Museum of Folk Art
Immediately north of St John's Cathedral is an interesting Museum of Folk Art.The Nicosia Museum of Folk Art was established by the Cyprus Studies Organization in 1950 to house all genuine and representative objects of Cypriot folk art made during the 19th and 20th centuries.The exhibits include a watermill, weaving looms, chests and hand-woven costumes.
Laiki Yeitonia is an old section of the walled city of Nicosia that has been restored to its traditional character. The narrow stone streets have been paved and are lined with period houses, jewelry and handicraft shops, charming tavernas and century-old churches.
Leventis Municipal Museum of Lefkosia
The Leventis Historical Museum of Nicosia revives life in the capital from ancient times to the present. It is the most modern and sophisticated museum on the island.The medieval findings are in the basement. Upstairs on the first floor are items from 2300 B.C. to the Turkish period. Among the exhibits are mannequins in Venetian costume and early books about Cyprus. The ground floor focuses on colonial history and the impact of British rule on Cyprus. Finally there is a video outlining the city's recent history and its division in 1974. There is a small museum shop in the foyer and a coffee shop in the basement.
Cyprus Jewelers' Museum
The Jewelers' Museum has a collection of jewelry representing Cypriot metalworking styles. There are also antique implements used by Cypriot jewelers.
Within walking distance from the Archbishopric is the Chrysaliniotissa Church, dedicated to Our Lady of the Golden Flax. This is considered to be the oldest church in Nicosia and is believed to have been built in 1450 by Queen Helena Palaeologos.
Cyprus Postal and Philatelic Museum
The small Cyprus Postal and Philatelic Museum houses the full range of Cypriot stamps and artifacts relating to Cypriot postal history. The museum opened in 1981 and was upgraded in 1999 to include additional exhibits.
Nicosia Walking Tour
The Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO) offers a two-hour walking tour of Nicosia every Thursday at 10am. The tour starts at the CTO office in Laiki Geitonia and gives visitors a chance to get acquainted with the old character of the city.
Onasagoras, parallel to Ledra Street, has been paved for pedestrians. It is lined with small shops, which are not aimed at tourists, therefore prices are quite reasonable.
Phaneromeni Church was built in 1872 and is located on Odos Onassagorou, within the old city. The marble mausoleum to the east of the church contains the relics of the bishops and priests executed by the Turks in 1821.