Nicosia (Greek: Lefkosia) is the capital of the Republic of Cyprus and is located in the center of the island. Nicosia is a lively and modern commercial and business metropolis. The city center is formed by the historic old town, which is enclosed all around by fortress walls with moats and heart-shaped bastions. Stroll through the narrow streets and along the restored, turbulent pedestrian zone with its cafes and taverns. Mosques and palm trees give the old town an oriental flair.
Visit St. John's Cathedral with its interesting frescoes and the Museum of Byzantine Icons. Concerts are held in the evenings, especially in front of the ramparts, and the Famagusta Gate is the site of spectacular exhibitions. The nearby Machairas Monastery is also worth a visit.
Places of interest & sightseeing in the surroundings of Nicosia
Ledra Street Lookout Tower
From the observation deck on the 11th floor of the Shacolas Tower you can enjoy a wonderful panoramic view of the city of Lefkosia.
Royal tombs of Tamassos
In the village of In Politiko, about 17 km southwest of Nicosia lies the ancient city-kingdom of Tamassos. Archaeological excavations brought to light the royal tombs, copper workshops and an Astarte/Aphrodite sanctuary. Impressive finds include larger-than-life statues of 6th-century B.C. macaque stone, now on display at the Cyprus Museum.
20 km south of Nicosia you can find the archaeological remains from all eras. In the district town of Dáli is the excavation site of ancient Idálion, one of the city-kingdoms of the island and part of the cultural route of Aphrodite. The strategic location, the abundance of water and the fertile soil were the three factors that helped the city to flourish between the 8th and 5th century BC. According to tradition, Adonis, Aphrodite's lover, died in Dali, killed by Aphrodite's lover, the god of war Ares.
In Pera Chorio there is the Byzantine church of Agioi Apostoloi. It contains wall paintings from the second half of the 12th century, which are among the most beautiful from that period. The Agios Dimitrios church from the 12th-13th century is also worth a visit.
Near the village of Potamia you will find the medieval ruins, the remains of the summer residence of the Frankish kings of Cyprus and a Gothic church.
Museum village Fikardou
The village of Fikardou, abandoned in the 19th century, on the road to Machaira, about 1 km east of the village of Gourri, has been declared a historical monument in order to protect the traditional architecture of the dwellings with their remarkable 18th century wood carvings. The "House of Katsinioros" and the "House of Achilleas Dimítris" from the 16th century have been restored and now form a living example of rural architecture in Cyprus. In 1987 the village was awarded the Europa Nostra prize.
National Forest Park Athalassa
Athalassa Forest Park is home to the Center for Environmental Studies, where you can get information about the ecological characteristics of the forest park. Learn about the ecosystem, vegetation, birds, mammals and reptiles through a three-dimensional model. Geological findings are displayed in a separate room.
Panagia Chrysospiliotissa Church
The church is located about 11 km southwest of Nicosia near the village of Deftera and was originally built as a cave catacomb, which dates back to early Christian times. This type of church is common in the Middle East but not in Cyprus. Unfortunately, most of the wall paintings have been destroyed. On August 15, there is a big church consecration festival for the Dormition of the Virgin Mary.
Center for Cypriot arts and crafts
Located outside the city walls, the center has workshops and a sales store where you can find Cypriot traditional handicrafts such as clay pots, baskets, wood carvings, copperware and embroidery.
Igios Ioannis Cathedral
The church was built by Archbishop Nikiforos in 1662 on the site of a 14th century Benedictine monastery dedicated to St. John the Evangelist. The Orthodox church, dedicated to Agios Ioannis Theologos, was a monastery until the 18th century, when Archbishop Sylvester elevated it to the status of a cathedral and the seat of the Cypriot Orthodox Archbishop. The church is one of the few in which the complete pictorial program is still preserved. The four large icons were painted in 1795 and 1797 by Ioánnis Kornáros, a native of Crete. The 18th century wall paintings depict Bible scenes and the finding of the tomb of Apostle Barnabas in Salamis.
The Byzantine Museum houses the richest and most representative collection of Byzantine art in Cyprus. More than 200 icons, from the 9th to the 19th century, sacred utensils, vestments and books are displayed here. The highlight of the exhibition is the 6th century mosaics from the Panagia Kanakaria Church in Lythragkomi. The mosaics, illegally exported from the occupied northern part, were recovered for the Byzantine Museum.
The new and the old Archbishop's Palace
The new Archbishop's Palace is the seat of the Orthodox Church in Cyprus. It was built in 1960 in neo-Byzantine style. The old palace was built in 1730 and is located next to the new palace. Today, there is an Ethnographic Museum on the first floor.
The Famagusta Gate was one of the three city gates of the Venetian fortification walls of the Old City. The eastern gate, Porta Giuliana, later known as Famagusta Gate, has been restored and since then serves as a cultural center. The gate leading inside the city is particularly impressive, while the outer gate opens onto the moat.
The four halls of the Makarios Cultural Foundation display a unique collection of representative works of Western art, from the Renaissance to contemporary art, as well as works by Greek and Cypriot artists.
Room 1 shows works by European artists and Room 2 displays paintings, engravings and maps from the 18th and 19th centuries on the theme of the Greek Revolt of 1821. In Room 3 you will find works by Greek artists of the 19th and 20th centuries and Room 4 is dedicated to representative works by Cypriot artists of the 20th century.
The Cyprus Museum in Nicosia is the largest and most important museum on the island. The building dates back to 1908 and 1924 when Cyprus was still a British colony. The exhibition shows the cultural development of Cyprus from the Neolithic period to the early Byzantine period in the 7th century A.D. The exhibits include ceramics, jewelry, sculptures, coins and bronze objects.
Highlight of the exhibition are finds of considerable archaeological and historical importance and characteristic of Cyprus culture, such as the cruciform statuettes of the Copper Age, the Early Bronze Age ceramic vessels from Vounous, the gold jewelry from Egkomi dated to the Late Bronze Age and the Aphrodite of Soli from the first century BC. The Cyprus Museum is part of Aphrodite's Cultural Route.