Despite the fact that there is no sea in Nicosia, there are enough interesting places to visit. The city was founded in the VII century BC - can you imagine how many antiquities can be found here?
Nicosia is also the last divided capital in Europe: the Republic of Cyprus and the unrecognized TRNC. Therefore, the city is divided into southern and northern parts.
Sights of Nicosia in the city
If you come to Nicosia for 1-2 days, then you will definitely have time to get around the most iconic places. However, for this you will have to overcome a considerable distance!
1. Venetian walls
This is an old defensive structure, which was erected at the beginning of the XIII century. However, the current appearance of the walls belongs to the XVI century – then the Venetians restored it after the destruction.
Thick stone walls create an almost correctly outlined circle outside the old town. The circumference is about 5 km, but it will not be possible to walk through them: part of the walls is located in the northern part of the capital. Do you remember that Nicosia is divided?
The Venetian fort has 11 bastions (5 of them are on the south side) and 3 gates: Kyrenia, Paphos and Famagusta. The first one is in North Nicosia, but the others are in the recognized part of the island.
2. Famagusta Gate and Aqueduct
Is it just a gate? No, it's a whole museum! The fact is that the Famagusta gate means a long passage under the arch. And today it houses a whole hall in which the antiquities of Cyprus and the Mediterranean are located.
Before or after visiting the gate, you can see the old aqueduct. It is very close: it is worth taking a couple of steps. It, as well as the walls, was an integral part of the life of the ancient city.
3. The Palace of Archbishop Makarios III
Located in the center of the city of Nicosia, very close to the Venetian walls, there is the Archbishop's palace. For Nicosia and the whole of Cyprus, this is not just one of the attractions, but an iconic place. All because Archbishop Makarios III who was a national hero.
His residence was located here, and the current archbishop conducts his service from here. In addition, there are three museums in the palace at once: the Byzantine, the ethnographic and the library. The latter stores ancient icons, books and household items.
4. Ledra Pedestrian Street
The street is named after the ancient city of Ledra. Now it, like the entire capital of Nicosia, is divided into 2 parts - north and south. From the south side, tourists can take a walk, look around and feel the beating of the very heart of Nicosia.
The path should start from Freedom Square (Eleftheria). It was just recently reconstructed, and now it looks very modern. Next, you need to walk 4 blocks, and it's better not to rush. So you look at everything that gets in the way. And there will be a lot!
5. Observation deck on the Shacolas Tower
If you want to see Nicosia from above (and this is an amazing sight), then go directly from Ledra Street to the Shacolas shopping center. Go upstairs through the museum to the observation deck.
Having seen enough of the city spread out under your feet, use the interactive displays of the museum-observatory. Both you and the children will be interested to see the moments of the history of Nicosia.
6. Buffer zone "Green Line"
The Green Line divides Cyprus (and at the same time Nicosia) into two sides, into two states. It is guarded by peacekeepers from different countries.
But you can look at it from afar: you will have a double impression. At first, curiosity will prevail. It's not every day you see a divided state! And then you will get into the new history of Cyprus and start looking at this small Mediterranean island a little differently.
On the map (indicated by a dotted line)
7. Turkish quarter of Laiki Geitonia
This is a time machine. One has only to walk through the old quarter of Laiki Geitonia, and you will feel yourself in the whirlpool of history! Despite the fact that the quarter is located on the 'Greek part' of the city, it is called Turkish.
It was restored, but very competently, so that the quarter immerses travelers in the atmosphere of the 1900s. I must say that the authorities succeeded. The spirit of the past is really felt here.
8. Municipal Park and Gagarin Monument
Unexpectedly, the guests of the Municipal park of Nicosia are greeted by Yuri Gagarin! Mahatma Gandhi keeps him company. Everything is simple here. He visited Cyprus, and a monument to him was erected in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first human flight into space.
The park is very pleasant. Fountains are turned on in the afternoon and evening, children have a place to run and play.
9. Athalassa National Forest Park
This is a large and beautiful park, which attracts visitors from all over Cyprus. It is located at a distance from the center, but it will not be difficult to get there by car or bus.
Athletes are engaged in Athalassa Park, as well as parents with children are walking. Children love this park very much: ducks swim in the pond, and on the territory you can meet landbirds. And even animals!
10. Melios Zoo
Another place for walking with children. The zoo will delight you with a large number of birds, including rare ones - little ornithologists will be happy! There are also non-feathered inhabitants here: monkeys, ungulates and other mammals.
On the territory of the zoo, you can play, have a snack in a cafe and even buy a furry or feathered friend. Unless, of course, you live in Cyprus and are not going to transport it across the border.
11. Leventis Art Gallery
There are a lot of good museums in Nicosia, it's hard not to get confused and choose the most interesting for you. We recommend starting with the Leventis Art Gallery, which is located on the left side of the Bastion D'Avilla (part of the Venetian wall).
The gallery has three collections: Cypriot, Greek and Parisian. The first two represent canvases by artists from Cyprus and Greece - XIX-XX centuries. The Paris collection also includes works by European masters of the XVII-XX centuries: Monet, Fragonard, El Greco, Sisley, Renoir, Cezanne, Chagall, etc.
12. Leventis Museum
Don't get confused – these are two different buildings and cultural centers that adorn Nicosia. The Leventis Municipal Museum presents to visitors one permanent exhibition, which is always supplemented by two temporary ones.
The main attention should be paid, of course, to the permanent exhibition. It leads guests from the depths of time (the Neolithic era), when the first settlements were founded in Cyprus - through medieval dramas - to a new and modern history. Believe us, the journey through the ages will be very exciting!
13. Cyprus Archaeological Museum
Without exaggeration, the largest and most important museum of the island. It is also called the Cyprus Museum. There is definitely no more interesting exposition on the island! Why?
Yes, because history literally lives here. Starting from the Neolithic era and ending with almost modernity. Visitors will see artifacts of Greek, Roman and Turkish rule, get acquainted with the life of the Cypriots, learn more about what happened in the world thousands of years ago.
14. Museum of National Struggle
Strange name. But only for those who are not aware of the history of Cyprus. In short, the islanders lived almost all the time under the yoke of the invaders. The local population was considered almost slaves, while foreigners dominated the island.
If we start from the XII century, Cyprus was ruled by the French, the Venetians, then the Ottomans, later the British, and it all ended with the island being divided into two parts: the southern (Greek) and northern (Turkish). The museum is dedicated to these vicissitudes. It contains exhibits that speak louder than any words about the struggle of indigenous Cypriots for their freedom.
15. The Church of the Theotokos Phaneromeni
One of the many old churches of Nicosia, which, nevertheless, is worth visiting first. Presumably, it was built in the XIII century, the iconostasis dates back to the XVII century, and the general construction (after all the destruction) – the XVIII century.
The Phaneromeni Church is interesting to visit not only from a historical and cultural point of view, but also from a Christian one. Several icons found and restored here in Cyprus will seem like a real miracle.
16. The Church of Panagia Chrysaliniotissa and the quarter of the same name
According to some sources, this is the oldest church on the whole island. The first building dates back to the V century, but what has survived to the present day was erected a little later: in the period from the XV to the XIX century. The old interior is preserved inside, as well as several valuable icons.
Not far from the church, there is a buffer zone and a quarter of the Old City of Nicosia. Here you can take a walk and look around, as well as have lunch in a traditional cafe.
17. Cathedral of St. John the Theologian
The cathedral is a de-facto museum, as the paintings of the XVIII century are perfectly preserved inside. The frescoes and iconostasis are truly impressive: it is very beautiful, literally breathtaking.
Services are held here daily. So anyone can visit it and feel a connection with bygone times.
18. Church of St. Procopius
In general, there are a lot of old temples in Nicosia, and we could talk about them endlessly. Therefore, we will focus on the church of St. Procopius, which is located in the center of the Cypriot capital, although it is administratively subordinate to the Kikk monastery (about it below).
The monastery is incredibly beautiful: the interior is really amazing! There is a fountain, greenhouses, and a landscaped courtyard. Everything suggests that this place is a must-visit.
19. Ömeriye Mosque
Do not forget that Nicosia is a divided capital. There are not only Orthodox churches here, but also mosques. One of the largest is the Ömeriye Mosque, built on the site of a destroyed Christian church in the XVI century.
Its minaret can be seen from any elevation, and many images of Nicosia demonstrate this miracle of old architecture. Despite the fact that the mosque is operational, anyone can visit it, regardless of their religion.
20. Arab-Jami mosque (Stavros tou Missirikou)
Another mosque located in the southern part of the city of Nicosia. It is literally adjacent to Omeriye (see above) and Ledra, so it will not be difficult to look here.
Previously, it was an Orthodox church, which was rebuilt into a mosque during Ottoman rule. Actually, the architecture of the church was partially preserved by adding a minaret to it.
Sights of Nicosia outside the city
If you have the opportunity to go outside the capital, then be sure to visit several iconic attractions.
21. Machairas Monastery
The men's monastery is located in the Troodos Mountains, near the border with the Larnaca district. It is built at an altitude of almost 900 meters above sea level, which means that the views are simply magnificent.
The main value of the monastery is an ancient icon of Mary Machairotissa, which (according to legend) was painted by one of the apostles. However, the architecture of the temple complex and the nature around is also a reason to visit this wonderful place.
22. Kykkos Monastery
Another mountain monastery, famous outside of Nicosia. Pilgrims come here to pray for recovery from serious illnesses. However, it is impossible to see the whole miraculous icon of the Kykkos Mother of God: it is half closed from the eyes with a special cover.
There is a museum on the territory of the highland monastery, so visitors can admire the complex, ancient artifacts, and views from the top of the mountain.
23. Russian Orthodox Church in Episkopio
Russian Russian Orthodox Church of the Apostle Andrew is one of the few churches where services are held according to the Russian canon and in Russian. Locals and tourists come here to attend a service or celebrate some church holiday.
It's not difficult to get here, so take a look at this church. It was built recently, but on a grand scale. Nicosia is rightfully proud of her.
24. Panagia Asinou Church
This small church is located in the village of Nikitari. At first glance, what could be special here? But inside there is a real miracle: Byzantine frescoes dating back to the XII century!
After you take a look at the ancient painting, take time to the surroundings. Olives, grapes, citrus fruits grow here, as well as magnificent forests. Not far from the church you will find a picnic area (Asinou Park), so you can take a snack with you.
25. Church of Panagia tou Araka
As you know, Nicosia is full of old churches. Panagia tou Araka is one of the churches "under the roof". This is a special design when the temple building is located under a separate canopy. This is an island "highlight" in church architecture.
The value is both the building and the frescoes inside. Their origin is attributed to the XII century! That is why the object is included in the UNESCO heritage list.
26. Agios Sozomenos - cave church
This is a very unusual place, which is recommended to visit even people far from religion as a tourist attraction. That's because the cave church is always something unusual and mysterious. They say that Saint Sozomen hid in the cave in the V century, and a little later a small chapel was made here.
In addition to a tiny cave, you can admire an unusual landscape and an abandoned village. It is quiet and very beautiful here at any time of the year.
27. Church of Panagia-Chrysopolitissa
Another (the last one for today) cave church of Nicosia. It is located in the village of Kato Deftera. According to legend, a glow was noticed in the cave, and it turned out that it was emitted by a wonderful icon. This icon is still brought to the cave temple (only in August for a few days), and the rest of the time a copy is kept in it.
It is believed that the icon of Chrysospiliotissa helps to find women's happiness: to marry successfully and have a child. Therefore, you can leave the gift and go under the icon to make the request come true.
28. The ancient settlement of Tamassos
This is an ancient settlement-state, which dates back to the VI century BC. It is located near Nicosia, you can get to it in about 15-20 minutes. The trip is worth it: you will see the ruins of the temple of Aphrodite and the necropolis.
Today Tamassos is revered by the Cypriot Orthodox Church, although many pagan artifacts have been found during excavations.
29. Petrides Farm Park
A great place for a family holiday. It is located quite close to Nicosia, but it is worth setting aside a whole day to visit it. The thing is that you won't want to leave here!
The farm is home to animals, birds and their cubs. You can pet them and even feed them! It will also be nice to take a walk in the park, get some fresh air. Children will play on the playground and throw out the accumulated energy.
30. Fikardou Village Museum
Do you want to take a look at the "other Cyprus"? Then be sure to go to the Fikardou Village Museum! This is a traditional Cypriot village where no one lives now. In the middle of the last century, everyone left: some to Nicosia, some to other major cities.
But the authorities have done everything to preserve her appearance and perpetuate it. So now Fikardou is a museum village. Here you can see both ancient Cypriot architecture and household items, agriculture, handicrafts and culture.
31. Kakopetria Village
And this is quite a residential and large village. It has its own hotel complexes in which you can stay comfortably. The village is quite high in the mountains, so you can fully enjoy the open views.
It is worth seeing a number of attractions in Kakopetria – this is the Venetian bridge, the historical part with the embankment, the old mill, several churches. The walk will leave the best impressions.
32. Villages of Pedoulas, Prodromos and Mount Olympus
It is worth making a route through these villages in a bundle. They are very close by, so you will save time and gain a lot of impressions. These are high-altitude and very beautiful villages where you can visit museums, ancient temples, and have a delicious meal!
Do not be lazy to climb Mount Olympus (Olimbos in Modern Greek). You will see not only the surroundings for many kilometers around, but also the sea! By the way, there is a ski resort here in winter.
33. The ruined village and the lake of Filani
A completely different thing is a ruined village that has been quietly swallowed up by nature. Lovers of abandoned houses should definitely visit here, especially if you are staying near Nicosia.
It's very peaceful and unusual here. Ruins do not frighten, rather, they cause some ambiguous feelings. It's nice to wander here, look into the church, and have a peaceful picnic on the lake shore.
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