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Published by richlion
All about Nicosia
All about Nicosia

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Published by: richlion on Mar 30, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 Nicosia (Lefkosia in Greek, Lefkoşa in Turkish) is the centrally located capital of Cyprus and byfar the largest city on the island. It also acts as a separate administrative capital for the Nicosiadistrict. The municipality of Nicosia governs only the central portion, but the city now sprawlsfor several kilometers and has engulfed surrounding villages and settlements. Its populationhovers around 250,000 (a third of the total population of Cyprus) but the city has a feel of onemuch larger. It is the administrative and financial hub of the island as well as home to severaluniversities, colleges and other educational establishments. It also hosts most foreign embassiesand offshore companies (a big industry in Cyprus nowadays). Along with its internationalstudents and foreign workers it has developed a truly cosmopolitan feel.The Green Line Nicosia is the world's last divided capital. The barbed wire and guard towers of the Green Line cuts the town in two, with the northern side being the capital of the self- proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the southern half being the capital of theRepublic of Cyprus.Politics aside, Nicosia is a little short on both the archaeological treasure troves and beaches with pulsating nightlife that bring most visitors to Cyprus. But the Old City with its museums andchurches is pleasant enough, and precisely due to the comparative lack of tourists, the city retainsmore of an authentically Cypriot air than the resorts of the southern coast. Fantastic little cafesinvite you in for a Cypriot coffee, so just walk around and see the many woodworking shops thatare deep within the City, and take a walk down to the Green Line, the boundary that now divides North from South. Being the financial and administrative centre of the island, it is by far the best place for shopaholics.This article covers only the southern side of the city under control of the Republic of Cyprus.  Nicosia International Airport has been closed off since the partition of the country. LarnacaAirport (40km, 30min drive) has scheduled flights to all major European cities. Further afield,the smaller Paphos Airport is a 140km (1h40m) drive from Nicosia.Limassol (80km away) and Larnaca (40 km away) ports both have passenger terminals withferry and cruise ship services to the Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Greece. Timetables varyconsiderably with the summer season being the busiest. Nearly all visitors arrive via the southern highway from Larnaca (43 km) and Limassol (83 km).Regular, cheap and reliable intercity taxi and bus services connect Nicosia to the centre of Cyprus' other cities. Private hire taxis are considerably more expensive. Car hire is alsoaffordable and all major car hire companies are represented at both the aforementioned airports.Until recently, entry from Northern Cyprus to south Nicosia was close to impossible. However,following a recent thawing in relations, it is now possible for EU citizens to cross the border atofficial crossing points, regardless of their point of entry to the island. It should be notedhowever, that this pertains to EU citizens only, and there have been cases of people from other  parts of the world being turned back at the crossing point.Greater Nicosia sprawls for kilometers on end, but the Old City is small enough to navigate onfoot. Traditional Greek Cypriot shops line the streets of the Old City, and with very narrowfootpaths/walkways, traffic must always be observed. GPS Satellite navigation systems (seeTomTom, Garmin and family) have yet to hear that Cyprus exists, so don't go looking for the
Cypriot version. A paper map can be picked up (free of charge!) from the Nicosia CTO (CyprusTourism Organisation) Information Office (in Laiki Geitonia) which should more than suffice. Nicosia is developing a more extensive network of bus services that connect the ever expandingsprawl. Transport is inexpensive, however timetables remain unreliable and only a few buses areair-conditioned.Private taxis abound, they are usually diesel Mercedes cars, and always have a number platestarting with the letter T. Some even have a yellow TAXI sign above. Unlike other world cities,they are not in a distinctive colour. Make sure the meter is turned on the second you enter, astourist exploring is as common here as everywhere else in the world! Nicosia's sights are concentrated in and around the Old City, surrounded by a picturesque star-shaped city wall whose moat has been converted into a pleasant park. Wandering around the OldCity is an interesting experience in itself, although some buildings (esp. those near the GreenLine) are derelict and crumbling. Note that many sights in the Old City close early, so try to getan early start - also a good idea for beating the heat in the summer.Front facade of the Cyprus MuseumCyprus Museum - showcases the best of Cypriotarchaeology from the 9th millennium BCE to the end of Antiquity. Located just to the west of thecity wall, in between the Tripoli bastion and the municipal gardens. Open 9 am - 5 pm weekdaysand Saturdays, 10 am - 1 pm Sundays and public holidays, closed New Year's, Easter andChristmas Days. Admission £1.50, 20% discount for groups of 10 or more. There is a convenientcafé on the grounds.Byzantine Museum (Archbishop Kyprianou Square), easily spotted thanks to the giant statue of Archbishop Makarios standing outside, has one of the world's best collections of Orthodox iconsand other artworks, mostly ranging from the 9th to the 16th century. Open 9 AM to 4:30 PMweekdays, 8 AM to noon Saturdays, closed Sunday. Entry £1.The National Struggle Museum (Kiniras 7) documents the history of the Cypriot independencemovement (1955-1959), with a rather positive spin on the EOKA guerrilla movement. Open 8AM to noon daily, entry a token £0.25.House of the Dragoman Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios, Patriarch Gregoriou St, tel. +357-302447. A beautifully restored 18th-century building now housing an ethnological museum. Open 8 AM to2 PM weekdays, 9 AM to 1 PM Saturdays, closed Sunday. Entry £0.75. Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre, 19 Apostolou Varnava Street, Nicosia 1500. Tel. +357-22432577,Fax.+357 22432531 Email: info@nimac.com.cy [4] Housed in a converted old power station built in 1936. The building sat derelict for 20 years and reopened as a contemporary art gallery in1994. Includes a decent cafe-restaurant with an imaginative Mediterranean menu. Winner of a1994 Europa Nostra award.Museum of the History of Cypriot Coinage, Bank of Cyprus Administrative Headquarters, 51Stasinou Str., Agia Paraskevi, Nicosia 2002, Tel. +357-22677134 [6] Hundreds of coins ondisplay, from ancient to modern spanning nearly 3,000 years of coinage history on the island.Open Monday to Friday: 8:00-14:30.Ledra Observatory Museum Ledra street, Shakolas Building, Tel: +357-22679369. The Shakolas(the aged population know it by its former name The Mangli) building sticks out like a sorethumb in the medieval old city. Right in the middle of Ledra street a mini skyscraper of 12
floors, towers over other buildings not rising higher than 2-3 floors. On its punultimate floor youfind the observatory, where it's possible “to see” the division of the island. There is a cafe upthere too. Entrance is a ridiculusly low CYP£0.50 so it’s a must see.Famagusta Gate (Leoforos Athinon) is the only one of Nicosia's three old gates within thesouthern sector, and it has now been turned into the Lefkosia Municipal Cultural Centre, used for various exhibitions and performances.The Nicosia Municipal Theatre (on museum street, opposite the Cyprus Museum), is a spacioustheater built in a neoclassical style. It seats 1200 persons and has a continuous programme of cultural events throughout the year.Football - for a taste of local sport, visit the home games of the local clubs. APOEL, Omonoiaand Olympiakos (Nicosia). All three compete in the top division of the Cyprus football and basketball leagues. Recently APOEL and Omonia football teams have enjoyed considerablesuccess in European competitions. So you never know, you might be lucky and catch aManchester United visit. Expect double a figure score in such a case.The Cyprus National Football team tends to play its home games in Nicosia at the GSP stadium.Recent success on the international scene (a 5-2 thrashing of Ireland and a 1-1 draw withGermany in 2006) have bolstered national pride and made these games quite popular (so advanceticket purchase is advised). Tickets are relatively cheap when compared to European leagueswhere on average a full price ticket costs less than CYP£15.Horse Racing at the Nicosia Race Club, Ayios Dometios. Tel. +357 22782727, Fax. +35722775690 Email: info@nicosiaraceclub.com.cy The small and picturesque race track has acolonial feel to it. Emotions run high here every Wednesday and Sunday. Check website or callthem for race timetable.Tennis - Cyprus plays its home Davis Cup matches at the Field Club. Clay courts line the moatthat was once covered with water protecting the city from medieval invaders. It has a colonialfeel to it. Again, if you are lucky you might catch Marcos Baghdatis playing for Cyprus.Explore the smaller City Streets, small enough to easily do this on foot. Visit a traditionalCypriot Cafe, and sample a Cypriot Coffee. Greet the locals. Make sure you visit the green Lineand view all of the City from the Watch tower, into both North and South Nicosia.Hamam Omeriye, NicosiaHamam Omerye in Nicosia, Cyprus is a 14th Century buildingrestored to operate once again as a hammam for all to enjoy, relax and rejuvinate - it is indeed a place to rest.Dating back to French rule and located in the heart of Nicosia's old town is Hamam Omerye - atrue working example of Cyprus' rich culture and diversity, stone struggle, yet sense of freedomand flexibility. The site's history dates back to the 14th century, when it stood as an Augustinianchurch of St. Mary. Stone-built, with small domes, it is chronologically placed at around the timeof Frankish and Venetian rule, approximately the same time that the city acquired its VenetianWalls. In 1571, Mustapha Pasha converted the church into a mosque, believing that this particular spot is where the prophet Omer rested during his visit to Lefkosia. Most of the original building was destroyed by Ottoman artillery, although the door of the main entrance still belongsto the 14th century Lusignan building, whilst remains of a later Renaissance phase can be seen atthe north-eastern side of the monument. In 2003, the [EU] funded a bi-communalUNDP/UNOPS project, "Partnership for the Future", in collaboration with Nicosia Municipality

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