Nicosia

Nicosia (Lefkosia in Greek, Lefkoşa in Turkish) is the centrally located capital of Cyprus and by far the largest city on the island. It also acts as a separate administrative capital for the Nicosia district. The municipality of Nicosia governs only the central portion, but the city now sprawls for several kilometers and has engulfed surrounding villages and settlements. Its population hovers around 250,000 (a third of the total population of Cyprus) but the city has a feel of one much larger. It is the administrative and financial hub of the island as well as home to several universities, colleges and other educational establishments. It also hosts most foreign embassies and offshore companies (a big industry in Cyprus nowadays). Along with its international students 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 selfproclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the southern half being the capital of the Republic 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 and churches is pleasant enough, and precisely due to the comparative lack of tourists, the city retains more of an authentically Cypriot air than the resorts of the southern coast. Fantastic little cafes invite you in for a Cypriot coffee, so just walk around and see the many woodworking shops that are 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. Larnaca Airport (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 with ferry and cruise ship services to the Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Greece. Timetables vary considerably 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 also affordable 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 at official crossing points, regardless of their point of entry to the island. It should be noted however, 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 on foot. Traditional Greek Cypriot shops line the streets of the Old City, and with very narrow footpaths/walkways, traffic must always be observed. GPS Satellite navigation systems (see TomTom, 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 (Cyprus Tourism 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 expanding sprawl. Transport is inexpensive, however timetables remain unreliable and only a few buses are air-conditioned. Private taxis abound, they are usually diesel Mercedes cars, and always have a number plate starting 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, as tourist 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 starshaped city wall whose moat has been converted into a pleasant park. Wandering around the Old City is an interesting experience in itself, although some buildings (esp. those near the Green Line) are derelict and crumbling. Note that many sights in the Old City close early, so try to get an early start - also a good idea for beating the heat in the summer. Front facade of the Cyprus MuseumCyprus Museum - showcases the best of Cypriot archaeology from the 9th millennium BCE to the end of Antiquity. Located just to the west of the city wall, in between the Tripoli bastion and the municipal gardens. Open 9 am - 5 pm weekdays and Saturdays, 10 am - 1 pm Sundays and public holidays, closed New Year's, Easter and Christmas Days. Admission £1.50, 20% discount for groups of 10 or more. There is a convenient café 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 icons and other artworks, mostly ranging from the 9th to the 16th century. Open 9 AM to 4:30 PM weekdays, 8 AM to noon Saturdays, closed Sunday. Entry £1. The National Struggle Museum (Kiniras 7) documents the history of the Cypriot independence movement (1955-1959), with a rather positive spin on the EOKA guerrilla movement. Open 8 AM 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 to 2 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 in 1994. Includes a decent cafe-restaurant with an imaginative Mediterranean menu. Winner of a 1994 Europa Nostra award. Museum of the History of Cypriot Coinage, Bank of Cyprus Administrative Headquarters, 51 Stasinou Str., Agia Paraskevi, Nicosia 2002, Tel. +357-22677134 [6] Hundreds of coins on display, 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 sore thumb 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 you find the observatory, where it's possible “to see” the division of the island. There is a cafe up there 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 the southern 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 spacious theater 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, Omonoia and Olympiakos (Nicosia). All three compete in the top division of the Cyprus football and basketball leagues. Recently APOEL and Omonia football teams have enjoyed considerable success in European competitions. So you never know, you might be lucky and catch a Manchester 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 with Germany in 2006) have bolstered national pride and made these games quite popular (so advance ticket purchase is advised). Tickets are relatively cheap when compared to European leagues where on average a full price ticket costs less than CYP£15. Horse Racing at the Nicosia Race Club, Ayios Dometios. Tel. +357 22782727, Fax. +357 22775690 Email: info@nicosiaraceclub.com.cy The small and picturesque race track has a colonial feel to it. Emotions run high here every Wednesday and Sunday. Check website or call them for race timetable. Tennis - Cyprus plays its home Davis Cup matches at the Field Club. Clay courts line the moat that was once covered with water protecting the city from medieval invaders. It has a colonial feel 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 traditional Cypriot Cafe, and sample a Cypriot Coffee. Greet the locals. Make sure you visit the green Line and 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 building restored 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 - a true working example of Cyprus' rich culture and diversity, stone struggle, yet sense of freedom and flexibility. The site's history dates back to the 14th century, when it stood as an Augustinian church of St. Mary. Stone-built, with small domes, it is chronologically placed at around the time of Frankish and Venetian rule, approximately the same time that the city acquired its Venetian Walls. 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 belongs to the 14th century Lusignan building, whilst remains of a later Renaissance phase can be seen at the north-eastern side of the monument. In 2003, the [EU] funded a bi-communal UNDP/UNOPS project, "Partnership for the Future", in collaboration with Nicosia Municipality

and Nicosia Master Plan, to restore the Hamam Omerye Bath, revitalising its spirit and sustaining its historical essence. The hamam is still in use today and after its recent restoration project, it has become a favourite place for relaxation in Lefkosia. In 2006 it received the Europa Nostra prize for the Conservation of Architectural Heritage. In bygone times Nicosia was dotted with dozens of open air and closed cinemas offering fims from local, Greek, Turkish and Hollywood producers. The advent of the video player and other home entertainment systems has strangled this industry and now only a handful of cinemas remain, none of which are open air. These offer the latest blockbuster movies from hollywood and occasionally the odd arthouse European film. Most will be screened in their original language with Greek subtitles. The annual Cyprus International Film Festival is the local Cannes equivalent. Expect to see great movies, but not the same calibre of stars. K. Cineplex 115 Makedonitissis, Strovolos 2057 +357-22355824. Modern multiscreen theatre, not much different to what one would find anywhare else in the world. Opera Cinema 9 Christodoulou Sozou, Nicosia 1096 +357-22665305 Zena Palace Cinema 18 Theofanous Theodotou, Nicosia 1065 +357-22674128. One of the oldest venues, has escaped the bulldozer by a thin film. Ifantourgio 67-71 Lefkonos Str., Phaneromeni, 1011 Old Nicosia Tel: +357-22762275 Fax: +357-22377519 info@ifantourgio.org.cy . The name of this place translates as The Weaving Mill and is infact a converted old factory. Very arty, no blockbusters here. You can sip your wine as you watch an alternative movie. The traditional shopping district runs along Ledra street and its tributary roads within the medieval walls of the city. A bustle of traditional jewelers, shoe and fabric shops give a blend of Middle Eastern and European feel. Laiki Geitonia is a pedestrianised neighbourhood that has been preserved in its original architecture and is the best quarter if you are after souvenir shops. Big chains (e.g. Marks and Spencer, Zara etc) line the more modern Makarios Avenue. Stasikratous street has evolved into a mini local version of 5th Avenue/Bond street with expensive brands such as Armani and Versace stores. All the above are within walking distance of each other. There are no real department stores in a purist sense, but Ermes (this chain inherited and rebranded the old local Woolworths) has several mini department stores across the island and a couple on Makarios Avenue. Alpha-Mega [14] and Orphanides are local hypermarket chains (worthy equivalent of a Tesco or Wal-Mart) where it would be difficult not to find what you were after. Most of their stores however, are located in the suburbs. International newspapers and periodicals (especially in the English language) are widely available but you can inevitably find them at the large kiosks (periptera) planted at the two corners of Eleftheria Square. These kiosks are open 24/7. Traditional Cypriot cuisine is a melting pot of south European, Balkan and Middle Eastern influences. You will find most Greek, Turkish and Arabic dishes, often with a local name or twist. It is now decades since Cyprus has established itself as a tourist hotspot and as a consequence many of the local chefs have trained in Europe and elsewhere, bringing their experiences back home with them. As such most international cuisines are well represented (but unfortunately so are McDonalds & gang). In summary good food is not difficult to come by and most westerners will find dining quite affordable.

The shopping district is dotted with local taverns and the likes of KFC and Pizza Hut. Virtually all restaurants allow smoking, (and unfortunately some don't even have a non-smoking area, and most restaurants with the non-smoking area don't enforce it). Al fresco dining is a luxury that can be enjoyed for over half the year. It would be a crime not to try (at least once) a mixed pork kebab with a chilled local KEO or Carlsberg (which is brewed locally and tastes different to the same brand overseas) beer. Carnivores are spoilt for choice, whilst vegetarians might find it a tad difficult. The food is high quality and somewhat cheaper than in the most Western capitals. Snacks should be available from CYP£1-2, kebabs from CYP£4 and whole meals from CYP£8-10. Local KEO beer costs around CYP£2 a pint in bars, local wines starting from CYP£6 a bottle. Hygienic standards are followed and even foods that usually are not recommended in the Mediterranean destinations, such as mayonnaise and salad-based foods, can be safely eaten. Kebab houses. The epitomy of Cyprus fast food. There is no neighbourhood without its local (99% of these are family-run businesses) so follow the BBQ smoke or smell. Try a traditional mixed kebab (aka souvlakia/sheftalia) with a cold KEO beer. That should set you back CYP£6-7 at the most. Sandwich kiosks. Several line Regina Str in central Nicosia close to Eleftheria Square. Some also offer doner kebab (gyros). Should cost less than CYP£5 including a soft drink, but you might have to stand whilst eating. Goody's. Eleftheria Square, City Center. Tel. +357-22681888. The Balkan answer to McDonald's. Don't expect more, don't expect less. Safe fastfood option, some dishes have a local flavour. Less than CYP£5 for a meal. Toronto Pizza [18]. The first local Pizza chain created by a Cypriot returning from Canada. Now has over a dozen outlets some of which have seating but some are only for home delivery/takeaway. Chose this over Pizza Hut of Dominoes. Zanettos 65 Trikoupi Street +357 22 765501. [19]. Hidden away in the narrow streets of the old city, this can be difficult to locate alone. Ask any cab driver though and it's as much as a landmark as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. Around since 1938, it serves traditional Greek-Cypriot meze at CYP£7 a head. Booking is essential. Eirinia 64A Arch Kyprianou Str, 2059 Strovolos, Tel +357-22422860. This tavern has a colourful past. Legend has it that the local prostitute (called Eirinia) cooked so well, that customers came more for her food than her services (the other version claims her services were so bad). Hence she switched to a restaurant. Her descendants still run one of the most successful and well known (amongst locals) taverns. Eat till you drop. CYP£10-15/head. Akakiko 9a Archbishop Makarios Avenue +357 77778022. Nicosia's newest Asian-Japanese Sushi restaurant. Part of an Austrian franchise and not much different to a Benihana. Average CYP£15-20 a head. Pizza Marzano 27 Diagorou Street, 1097 Nicosia Tel: +357-22663240 +357-22663740 fax: +357-22663786 nicosia@pizzaexpress.com.cy . Safe choice, but unadventurous. Part of the Pizza Express empire. Offers a similar menu to the UK version with a couple of extra pizzas with a local twist. CYP£10-15 a head including drink.

Plaka Tavern 65 Poseidonos Ave., 8042 Engomi, Nicosia. Tel. +357-22352898, +357-22590944 The quintessential Cypriot taverna, set in the middle of old Engomi (a Nicosia suburb) with tables spilling out on the street offering a strong meze. CYP£10/head. Varoshiotis Seafood Restaurant 29 Stasandrou street. 1060 Nicosia Tel.: +357–77772040 varoshiotis@varoshiotis.com [22] As the name suggests this restaurant offers a diversity of fish dishes. Originally opened in the 1940s in the town of Varosha (which since 1974 is under Turkish occupation) it has since moved to Nicosia but is still very popular. If in doubt go for the fish meze. Average CYP£15-20/head. Seiko 26-28 Stasikratous str., Tel: +357-77777375. Nothing to do with mass production Japanese watches, this is an expensive (by Cyprus standards) design conscious Japanese restaurant. Boasting 132 different dishes including a variety of sashimi and sushi. CYP£30 a head. The substantial student population supports a flourishing industry of bars, pubs and nightclubs which keep the old city alive. Cypriots are true socialites and spend most of their time out as opposed to at home. In line with other south European countries going out is unheard of before 10-11pm. There is no official nightlife reference point but Makarios avenue turns into a catwalk cum cruising strip for Porsche owner show-offs. If you are after a more traditional flavour (generally catering for an older population) you could try a bouzouki bar. Bars will stock the usual international brands of spirits. Local giants KEO beer and Carlsberg (the only other brand brewed on the island) have a universal presence. Local wines are now making a comeback after years of medioaracy and decline. Commandaria is the pride of Cyprus' dessert wines. The local spirit zivania (very similar to grappa) is usually drank as shots straight from the freezer. Cyprus brandy was introduced about 150 years ago and differs from other continental brandies in its lower alcohol content (around 32%). As such it is is often drank by locals whilst eating (and before and after) and is the basic ingredient for a local cocktail, The Brandy Sour. Local Ouzo is also another favourite. Coffee culture is a way of life in Nicosia. It is the place to see and be seen in the afternoon to early evening. In the summer months, tables spill on to the streets. The posh cafes line Makarios avenue, intertwined with shops. Starbucks and Costa coffee have invaded the island but local equivalents also survive. For a change don't stick to the latte/capuccino, try a greek coffee. In the summer you must order a frappe (iced coffee). Da Capo cafe, 30 Arch Makarios Avenue Tel. ++357-22757427. Regarded as one of the first modern cafes caters for the nouveau riche. Will serve basic meals too. WiFi internet access. Le Cafe 16 Arch. Makarios Avenue Tel. ++357-22755151. Used to be a confectionery. Now you'll find the suits of the Cyprus financial elite lunching there - book in advance if you're going for lunch. Wifi internet access. Pralina Cafe 31 Stasikratous Street, +357 22 660 491. The flagship cafe of a confectionery chain. A chocolate addict's paradise. You can easily overdose on sweets here, and before you know it, your diet is down the drain forever. The coffee is not bad either. Mondo's Cafe 9 Arch. Makarios Avenue.Tel +357-77778044. The newest addition on the cafe strip, it dwarfs the rest in size. Large outside seating area, perfect for posers. WiFi internet access.

There is not much of a distinction between the two, most will serve beer, wine, cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages. Many will now serve food too, but kitchens usually close earlier than the bar. Babylon Bar & Restaurant, CyprusBabylon - 6 Iasonos Street, 2021 Lefkosia Tel: +357 22 665757, info@babylon.com.cy Popular, long established bar in a converted 1950's house. Has a large beer garden for the hot summers and cosy log fires for the cold winters. The Corner Pub 48 Demostheni Severi Avenue, Nicosia Tel: +357-22665735 [24] As the name suggests it’s a pub and on a corner. Some consider it a spooky shrine to Man Utd football club; its walls are adjourned with countless memorabilia and photos. Has several large projection screens so good for watching popular football games. The Kush Bar 2 Omirou Avenue, Eleftheria Square, 1521 Nicosia Tel: +357-22666111 [25]. Opened in 2006, decorated with ultramodern minimalistic furniture and overlooking the dry moat surrounding Nicosia's venetian walls. Plato's Bar 8-10 Platonos St. Tel: +357-22666552 . Long established and popular, located in the old city in an old converted house. Prides itself on its Belgian Beer, Malt Whisky and generally its vast spirit selection. Wine list that satisfies every taste and pocket. Good and simple food menu. Excellent music selections. Has an indoor beer courtyard for the Summertime and two fireplaces for the Winter. Open all year round from 20:00 onwards. No sleeveless t-shirts allowed. The Toy Lounge Pindarou St. Tel: +357-22817040 Opened in 2003. More than a bar, less than a club, frankly somewhere in between. Open till about 2am and serves finger food too. Live music on certain nights. More frequented by ages 25-40. Scorpios Club 3 Stassinos Street - Tel: 22351850. Probably the only discothèque in Nicosia having survived the test of time. Opened in the early 1970’s and has reinvented itself (after several facelifts) since. Sfinakia club 1 Kyriakou Matsi Avenue, 1082 Nicosia Tel+357-22766661. Opened in the 1990s and still going strong. Caters for an age group of 20-30s. Has a nice outdoors bar section open in the summer months. Usually packed on a daily basis and even on weekends. Zoo Club 15 Stasinou Ave, 1060 Nicosia, Tel: +357-22458811. Started out as a club but over the years has taken over several floors on the same building. Has a restaurant section and a chill-out lounge bar. Being more of an administrative city plus the financial hub of the island, hotels tend to cater more for business travelers. Accommodation choice is more limited than the purely touristical destinations that line the coast. Averof Hotel 19 Averof Str., Tel: +357-22773447, Fax: +357-22773411, Email: averof@spidernet.com.cy . A cheap (room prices CYP£26 to CYP£60 per night) two star hotel located in a very residential area. Castelli Hotel 38, Ouzounian Str., 1504 Nicosia, Tel.+357-22712812, Fax. +357-22680176 Email: reservations@kennedy-hotels.com

Centrum Hotel 15 Pasikratous Str., 1011 Nicosia, Tel: +357-22456444, Fax: +357-22873560, Email:info@centrumhotel.net . Cosy 3 star, 40-room hotel renovated in 2003. Offers WiFi internet access. Classic Hotel 94 Rigenis Str. Nicosia 1513. Tel. +357-22664006. Fax. +357-22670072 Email:classichotel@gapgroup.com Called Classic, but in fact very minimalistic and chic with wooden floors. Some limited conferencing facilities. Run by GAP Vasilopoulos, one of Cyprus' largest conglomerates. Cleopatra Hotel 8 Florinis Str., 1065 Nicosia. Tel. +357-22844000, +357-22445254, +35722671000 Fax. +357-22844222, +357-22670618 Email:cleotel@cleopatra.com.cy . A four star family run hotel close to the city centre and within walking distance of the shopping district. Swimming pool, bars and WiFi internet access. Hilton Cyprus Archbishop Makarios III Avenue, Nicosia 1516. +357-22-377777 fax: +357-22377788 . A five star hotel around since 1967 but updated and extended several times since. Conveniently located along the main artery road entering Nicosia. Eponymous visitors and Heads of State always stay here so expect discreet police presence. Ample parking. Hilton Park Forum Griva Dighenis Avenue, Nicosia, Cyprus 1507 Tel. +357-22695111 Fax. +357-22351918 Email: hilton.park@hilton.com.cy Holiday Inn Nicosia 70 Regeana Str., Nicosia +357-22-712712 fax: +357-22-673337 [35]. Formerly the Kennedy Hotel, revamped and under new management. Situated in the heart of the old city. Has a nice pool on the roof.