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Fascinating Travel to Nicosia, Cyprus

City view Nicosia, Cyprus

 Cyprus has seen many empires and invaders come and go over the centuries. Humans have lived longer in Nicosia than in any other part of the island. Settlement began in Nicosia area in 3,000 BC.

 The location of the island has made it a prize for many civilizations. Egyptians, Romans, Byzantines, Franks, Venetians, Ottomans, and the British. They have all played a part at shaping this city.

 They built Nicosia on the ancient city of Ledra that once stood in the same location. Ledra stood in the 7th and 8th centuries BC. Over the centuries, later civilizations have added their own features to the city.

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 For example, the Franks built walls around the city to protect it. Later, the Venetians tore the walls down because they felt they needed to be stronger. The Ottomans came along and renovated the walls and then added stone coverings. These walls are one of the best-preserved features of the city.

     Cyprus Museum.

Visit one of the oldest Cyprus Museum - historical attraction in Nicosia

 Cyprus has a long history which has assimilated several cultures. To learn more about this, you should pay a visit to the Cyprus Museum. The museum covers the periods stretching back as far as the Neolithic Age. It then takes us from there to the Byzantine Empire.

 The museum has pottery, sculptures, Jewels, and Coins, which are all laid out in time order. Check out the early Bronze Age Pottery from Vouni. Golden Jewelry from Egkomi, and made in the late Bronze Age.

 They completed the museum during the British colonial era; in 1924. The museum later added some extensions.

     The Venetian Walls.

Venetian Walls in Nicosia, Cyprus

 The Venetian Walls which surround the city of Nicosia are a defensive structure. They constructed the original defensive fortifications in the Middle Ages. But the Republic of Venice chose to rebuild them during the middle of the 16th Century. They are the best-preserved fortifications of this type in the East Mediterranean.

 When the Venetians decided to rebuild the defenses, they called in Specialist Engineers. Military engineers Giulio Savorgnan and Francesco Barbaro created the revised fortifications. While they were doing this, they diverted the Pedieos River from inside the city. They moved the course of the river to create a moat to encircle the walls.

     Babylon Bar.

Babylon Bar - large assortment of national food

 Taking a break from all the wonderful culture and all the other Fascinating Travel to Nicosia, Cyprus. There is an oasis in central Nicosia hidden behind plants. Since 1993, when they founded it, the bar has built up a large fan base.

 You can choose to sit outside in the large beer-garden with picnic benches, or you can stay indoors. Indoors, they feature an unusual interior design that features Vintage Beer Adverts.

 On match days they have a projector screen in the garden, which can accommodate almost 200 people.

 It has an amazing vibe that has proved to be very successful.

     Ledra Street.

Popular street for tourists - Ledra Street, Nicosia, Cyprus

 Ledra Street is a major commercial street that also has huge historical significance. They built a barricade across Ledra Street to separate The Greek South and the Turkish North. They lifted the barricade in April 2008. This made Ledra Street into crossing number 6.

 In the period between 1955 and 1959, they nicknamed Ledra Street the Murder Mile. This was in response to the regular attacks on British military by the nationalists.

     Büyük Han.

Büyük Han - panoramic view from above

 Büyük Han in English means Great Inn. It is a well-preserved example of a Caravansary, which is a resting place for travelers. Where caravans could pull up and rest after a day of travel. It is in excellent condition and is a place you should try and visit when in Nicosia.

 The Ottomans built Büyük Han in 1572, 12 months after they had taken Cyprus from the Venetians. They designed it with a central Mosque in the middle of the courtyard. The British turned the Büyük Han into a prison when the British took over.

 During the 1990s they carried out a lot of restoration work and managed to restore the Inn into an Arts Center. This consists of galleries, workshops and courtyard cafes. Of course, there are also gift shops.

     Makarios Cultural Foundation: The Byzantine Museum.

Byzantine Museum - unique attraction in Nicosia

 Next door to the Presidential Palace is the Byzantine Museum. This museum has a large collection of over 300 icons and frescoes that range over ten centuries. During the 1974 Turkish invasion, they looted a large number of artworks. These came from churches that are now situated in Northern Cyprus. It took a lot of legal action to finally get these returned.

 In an adjoining gallery, The Makarios Cultural Foundation has European paintings on display. These paintings are from the Renaissance until the 20th Century.

     Shacolas Tower.

Shacolas Tower in Nicosia

  Shacolas Tower is a tall building in Nicosia. Costas Manglis completed the tower in 1959. It used to be the offices of the General Engineering and Hellenic Mining Company. Today, the first five floors are home to the H&M Department store.

 On the 11th floor, the building houses an Observatory and museum. The exhibition is a joint venture between the Leventis Museum and Debenhams Group. It features photos and descriptions of Nicosia as it was. They tell the story through a multilingual recording and binoculars.

     Nicosia Nightlife Tour (Self-Guided).

Nicosia Nightlife Tour - panoramic view of the night city

 This is an opportunity to experience some great Nicosia nightlife. They have created an app “GPSmyCity” which has tours in over 1,000 cities, of which Nicosia is one. The app works offline, so does not need an Internet connection abroad.

 The tour of Nicosia’s nightlife lasts around 1 hour and involves a 1.6-mile walk. The tour features Ithaki Venue, Plato’s Bar, Club Teez, Babylon, and City Pride Pub.

 The app turns your cell phone into a tour guide and takes the user on a tour of the best venues in Nicosia. It uses the phone’s GPS system to navigate between each stop.

     Selimiye Mosque.

Selimiye Mosque - important tourist attraction in Nicosia, Cyprus

 Selimiye Mosque is a very prominent landmark within Nicosia. It is a cross between a Gothic Church (French) and a Mosque. The project to build a church started in 1209 and was progressing at a snail’s pace.

 French King Louis IX was on the way to the Crusades in 1248 visited the construction site. He offered to provide his builders and artisans to assist with the construction. It took further seventy-eight years to finish.

 They consecrated the building in 1326 as the Church of Agia Sofia. Things did not run as well as they might, with constant attacks by the Genoese and Mamelukes. There were also two earthquakes in the years 1491 and 1547.

 Then in 1571 along came the Ottomans who removed all the Christian materials. They also added two minarets and made changes in the interior, turning it into a Mosque.

 Despite this still being a functioning mosque it is possible to visit the building. This has to be outside of worship hours.

     Leventis Museum.

Image of Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia

 The Leventis Museum is a small museum that aims to look at the full timeline of Cyprus history. It has a varied collection that features exhibits of all kinds. It attempts to follow the journey that makes Cyprus what it is today.

 It covers a long history stretching from 3000 BC to the present day, and they order exhibits by era.

     Nicosia as a Tourist Destination.

Panoramic mountain views in Nicosia, Cyprus

 Compared to most of the coastal resorts, Nicosia does not get so many tourists. Which is a shame as it can be Fascinating to Travel to Nicosia, Cyprus. Fascinating because of the amazing history at this crossroads of cultures.

 Nicosia also has the dubious honor of being the last divided capital in Europe. Nicosia is the capital of the Greek backed Republic of Cyprus. Northern Nicosia is the capital of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Turkey is the only country to recognize Northern Cyprus.

 This local history has a big impact on the city and is interesting as a piece of live social history.

 Following a coup in Cyprus by a faction that wanted to become a province of Greece, the Turkish army invaded. They did this to protect the interests of the Turkish Cypriots. This resulted in the Turkish army taking control of the top of the country. This included Northern Nicosia, and so they divided the City.

 There is no longer an airport serving Nicosia. The airport that became stuck inside the United Nations buffer zone. It now lays abandoned and decaying. To Travel to Nicosia, it is now required that you use the airport at Larnaca, which is about 60 minutes away by bus.

     Crossing into Northern Nicosia.

Crossing into Northern Nicosia - city photo

 Northern Cyprus is not recognized by anyone except Turkey and that country has the only embassy. It used to be very difficult to cross the border into Northern Cyprus. Now it is just confusing. Both parts of Cyprus are parts of the EU, so EU citizens can cross as they like. Others can travel into Northern Cyprus for up to 90 days without a visa, except for Nigerians and Armenians.

 Pedestrians can cross at Ledra Palace and Ledra Street. The main crossing is at Agios Dometios and cars can also cross there.

 There is also a crossing at the British Eastern Sovereign base.

     Final Words.

 Nicosia the crossroad of various civilizations, Nicosia is a fascinating place to visit. When you travel to Nicosia and explore the city, you will come across a variety of architecture.

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