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Welcome to the world’s last divided capital, melancholic, beautiful and fragile Nicosia! If you’re searching for cheap airtickets to Nicosia, then you sure know about the special regime of the Cypriot capital. Divided in two by the “Green Line”, Nicosia balances between past and present, history and future, tradition and modern accomplishments. The winner? The beauty of Nicosia lies exactly in this coexistence of the two. A visit to the Cypriot South will convince you that this is a modern metropolis with vibrant cultural, artistic and social life, museums, galleries and a very popular and active university. At the same time, a great wealth of historical and archaeological sites under the idyllic backdrop of the fortified Old Town, the walls, the bastions, the mosques and churches of the past, will set the mood for a travel back in time. Heading forward and looking ahead towards a brighter future of reconciliation and solidarity within the nation, Nicosia is a wonderful place and a good choice for you to absorb the Cypriot culture. Don’t miss it!
Nicosia is the only fortified city of Cyprus and the majority of sights and points of interest stretch inside the walls or within short distance from them. The bastions, built by the Venetians to provide protection from a possible Turkish attack – which indeed happened in 1570 – remain the main landmark of Nicosia.
Since the Turkish invasion in 1974, Nicosia has been divided in two zones. Half in the South and half in the North, with a buffer zone referred to as the Green Line standing between the two, it is the only left divided capital in the world.
Despite the recent turbulent history of Cyprus, the capital is a vibrant modern city and remains the thriving economic, commercial and cultural hub of the island, bustling with life, sights, events and people.
Visitors of Nicosia enjoy a wide range of museums, galleries, theatres and top class restaurants that line the streets of the city’s historic districts, stuffed with monuments and eternal remnants of a great heritage.
Nicosia surely has something for everyone!
The International Airport of Nicosia is no longer active, ever since the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus in 1974. The nearest airport to Nicosia is the airport of Larnaca (Larnaca International Airport - Διεθνής Aερολιμένας Λάρνακας). It is located 49 kilometres from Nicosia and is accessible by bus.
Getting around Nicosia
You can get around Nicosia mainly by bus; fares start from 1.50€ and minimum taxi fare costs 5.00€.
Nicosia’s dividing area is a demilitarised buffer zone created by the United Nations in 1974, commonly referred to as the Green Line. This 300-kilometre-long line partitions Cyprus – and Nicosia – in two.
Nowadays it’s really easy to cross the border between South and North Nicosia, without any limit on the number of times you choose to do so. Seven are the main points across the Green Line, with the latest Ledra Street crossing being the most convenient of all; it’s a passenger-only crossing and to cross it you only need to fill out a Visa form and have it with you at all times.
You can get a first glimpse of the aforementioned extraordinary blending of traditional and modern, stemming from the deep turbulent history of Nicosia, wandering around the Venetian walls that surround the Old Town. Nicosia is, in fact, the only fortified city left in Cyprus, whose walls remain almost intact, even though they date back to 1570.
The walls of Nicosia have 11 heart-shaped bastions, each bearing the name of the Venetians who funded their construction.
The fortified city of Nicosia used to have three main gates, named after the direction they were pointing to: Paphos Gate to west, Famagusta Gate to the east and Kyrenia Gate, located in North Nicosia – all of which survive until today.
The Kyrenia Gate is considered to be one of Nicosia’s most well-preserved historic monuments. Built by the Venetians in 1562, it was later reinforced by the Ottomans and served as the busiest passageways of Nicosia’s fortifications.
Continue to two of the city’s most notable museums:
- The Archaeological Museum of Cyprus houses the finest archaeological collection of the island. Housed in a building dating back to 1883, the museum boasts collections that span Cyprus’s past from prehistory. Items include ceramics, sculptures and various other items, with highlights being the 2,000 clay figures that were retrieved from an archaic altar of Agia Irini and it’s estimated that they were created somewhere between the 6th and the 7th century BC.
- The Byzantine Museum exhibits the largest collection of Byzantine icons in Cyprus and is housed in the Primate Palace, an elegant building that also comprises a national, cultural and religious monument. Collections include over 220 icons dating back to the 5th-19th century.
Your next stop is none other than the Hamam Omerye, to enjoy a relaxing hot bath, exactly what you need after a long day under Nicosia’s sun.
Turkish-controlled Northern Nicosia features a completely different picture, with evident contrasts that do not go unnoticed. Crossing the Ledra Street is like getting on a time-machine; the whole north side of Nicosia is a travel back in time, full with Turkish tradition.
The most significant site of Northern Nicosia, apart from the unique feeling and aura of the place, is the Selimiye Mosque, housed in the imposing former Gothic Cathedral of St. Sophia.
The cathedral was built in 1326 and is the largest Gothic church left in Cyprus.
In 1570, the Ottomans converted the Cathedral into a mosque, adding two minarets at the façade and destroying the largest part of murals, sculptures and vitraux that used to decorate the church.
The official languages of Cyprus are Greek and Turkish, while English is widely and proficiently spoken.