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Cyprus’ capital Nicosia has been overtaken by many empires and kingdoms for hundreds of years since the Bronze age due to its strategic location. Because of this, if you visit the town of Nicosia, it would be like visiting a place where different worlds collide because of its rich past. Even until now, the city is still in between two cultures, the Greeks and the Turkish. However, it is known as Lefkosia to its Turkish locals. Since the feuds on dominance in the land, the city is presently peaceful and harmonious but the challenges that it went through also form part of it being “interesting” to tourists from all around the world.
The city is composed of narrow, winding streets that make it more attractive. There lies a museum that the tourists shouldn’t miss visiting. The Cypress Museum is primarily an archaeological establishment where you will see a magnificent collection of artifacts that existed since the Roman and Neolithic times. Most of the museum’s most valued possessions are the Aphrodite of Soloi and the statue of the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus.
The city is made up of thick-walled buildings that serves as a reminder of how the city has been present for hundreds of years garnering richness in its history and beauty. There is a circular-shaped wall that was erected by the Venetians during the 1600s. It is composed of three gates namely the Farmagusta Gate, Paphos Gate and the Kyrenia Gate that goes to the part where the Turkish occupy.
As you enter the stone gates of the wall towards the older part of Nicosia, you will be able to discover its main attraction which is the Phaphos Gate.
Due to its richness in culture and history, Nicosia is just packed with museums and churches, which means, you need to pick out the ones that you would like to visit before touring as you may not be able to visit them all.
Some of the most famous ones are the Leventis Municipal Museum, the Agios Ioannis Cathedral Churt, the Byzantine Art Museum and the beautiful Phaneromeni Church which is the most huge of the bunch. This establishment holds a marble mausoleum that has remains of the clerics and bishops who once served in that church.
As you stroll down the city’s historical center, you will find the museums of the Pancyprian Gymnasuim which has collections of Old Maps, Old Weaponry, Numismatic and Archaeological pieces. It also houses the Museum of Natural History and an art gallery that has exhibit masterpieces and works by Cypriot painters.
While journeying on a beautiful walk, make sure you visit Nicosia’s markets. Two of the best ones are the Agios Antonios and the Constanza Bastion because they have that old world resemblance and ancient character. You will get to feel the sights and smells of different kinds of products that the vendors produce. You may purchase some handicraft items or you can just pinpoint souvenirs or gifts that would remind you best of Nicosia.
The Green Line is the United Nations buffer zone which divides where the Turkish and the Greeks live. In crossing such borders, even the locals need to present their passports! However, it would be a good trip going to and fro the border where you’ll find churches on the other side and mosques on the other. In doing so, you’d be able to maximize the feel of the mix of cultures present in this marvelous town.
There are tons of small businesses that offer souvenir items such as bags, clothing, goldsmith’s shops, groceries and restaurants situated by the line.
The Selimiye Mosque is an architectural construction with a taste of Christian origin but is presently owned by the Islamic community. It used to be a Cathedral that got transformed into a mosque during the 1500s. It has been one of the best preserved infrastructures and has been a place for worship for the Muslims. Also, it has been recognized as the largest and finest worship area and most essential of the Gothic structures in Cyprus.
It may be visited anytime except for the praying-time (Ezan) during the day.
You should likewise roam to this city’ is surroundings made up of strong 16th century stone walls that were built by the Venetians in lieu of the much lesser sturdy medieval walls. It has been recognized all over the world as an intelligent tactic of defense against invaders, but it missed its purpose when just before it was about to be finished, the Ottomans were able to take the city by storm regardless of such protection.
This establishment located in Nicosia was rendered the residence of a very famous Archbishop Makarios III. He was a controversial figure way back when he supported the unification of the Turks and the Greeks in this area. His efforts led to the Turkish invasion in 1974, the bunch who didn’t want to become party to Greece. The palace became a battle field during the invasion era that led to the death of the Archbishop. the palace was almost turned to ruin during such event. Visiting here would definitely feed your urge for historical fascination.
This city also holds one of the most fascinating and well maintained Turkish baths in Europe. The Hamam Omerye Baths were built during the Turkish invasion when before such, a Church was erected here instead of what it is now. The baths contain of mottled yellow and beige rusticated outer walls that compliment the smooth and cream domes behind.
During cold winter days, the steam from the baths would leave white trails in the clear blue sky that makes it absolutely wondrous to look at.