The capital city of Cyprus is a fascinating mix of old and new – the high rise buildings, popular street cafes and modern shops of the newer commercial centre contrasting sharply with the ‘old’ city, confined within its circular mediaeval fortified stone walls.
Stroll through the popular Laiki Geitonia, an area restored in 1894, where you can see various craftsmen at work. More craftsmen work at the government-run Cyprus Handicraft Service, on the outskirts of the city, which promotes traditional Cypriots arts and crafts, while the Chrysaliniotissa Crafts Center in the old city hosts a complex of 8 workshops.
As well as handicraft centres, Lefkosia has an abundance of museums, galleries, ancient churches and historic buildings. Guided city tours organized by the Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO) take place regularly. Not to be missed is the observatory on top of the Siakolas Tower in Ledra Street, a good viewpoint overlooking Europe’s last divided city.
Lefkosia is the Greek name for the city, but ‘Nicosia” is also in common use, so don’t be surprised to see either spelling on road signs, etc.
Places to visit:
Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation (Includes George & Nefeli Giabra Pierides Collection).
86 Phaneromenis street, Tel: 22677134
A range of archaeological items dating from 2,500BC through to the 16th century AD. Includes contemporary Cypriot art, coin collections, maps and rare historical documents.
Chrysaliniotissa Multicraft Centre
(within the old walls at corner of Ipponaktos & Dimonaktos Stret), Tel: 22347465
Eight workshops around a courtyard offer traditional products and handicrafts – some of which give a new slant to old crafts.
Cyprus Handicraft Service
186 Athalassa Avenue, Tel: 22305024
Visit the workshops and see the traditional craftsmen working at this government-run centre. Pleasantly lay out around a courtyard. There is also a gift shop and cafeteria.
Archiepiscopou Filotheou, Famagusta Gate
The Church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and means “Our Lady of the Golden Flax”. Built in 1450, it is believed to be the oldest Byzantine Church in Lefkosia. It contains a collection of old and rare icons.
Cyprus Archaeological Museum
Museum Street, Tel: 22865864
The island’s foremost museum, it has a priceless collection of artifacts from the Neolithic to the Byzantine periods.
Cyprus Classic Motorcycle Museum
44 Granikou Street, Tel: 22680222
A fascinating collection of two-wheeled machinery from the past.
Cyprus Jewelers Museum
7-9 Praxippou Street, Laiki Geitonia, Tel: 22667377
Permanent exhibition of traditional 19th and 20th century.
Cyprus Postal Museum
Department of Postal Services
3B Agiou Savva Street, Tel: 22304711
Collection of Cyprus stamps and postal memorabilia from 1800 onwards.
Archbishop, Tel: 22430008
The museum houses an interesting collection of Cypriot folk art from the 19th and early 20th century.
Byzantine Museum & Art Galleries
Archbishop, Tel: 22430008
Home to the island’s largest collection of icons and art.
House Of The Dragoman – Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios
20 Patriarchou Grigoriou street, Tel: 22305316
This is a fine example of a traditional 18th century town mansion. The Dragoman was the link between the ruling Ottoman administration and the Greek Cypriots. The house has been richly restored and won the 1988 Europa Nostra Award. Also houses an Ethnological Museum.
Rigenis Street, within the old City walls near Pafos Gate.
This medieval hall was once part of a Louisianan Palace dating back to the 13th 14th century.
Shacolas Tower, 11th floor, ‘Hermes’ shopping center, Ledra Street, Tel: 22679369.
Offers impressive views of the city.
Leventis Municipal Museum
17 Ippokratous Street, Laiki Geitonia, Old Town
Tel: 22671997 / 22661475
Permanent exhibitions of Lefkosia’s 6,000-year history.
Municipal Arts Center & Contemporary Art Gallery (AKA: The Powerhouse)
(Associated with the Pierides Museum Of Contemporary Art)
19 Apostolou Varnava Street, Tel: 22432577
Museum Street, Tel: 22664028
Neo-classical style theatre, built in 1967.
8 Tillyria Square, Tel: 22460570
A haven of calm and serenity at the heart of Lefkosia for everyone to enjoy, the Omeriye Hamam (Turkish Baths) has recently undergone considerable renovation.
Trikoupi Street, Open daily (no shoes allowed inside Mosque), Free Entry.
The Mosque dates from the 14th century. It was originally the Augustinian Church of Saint Mary, but was destroyed during the Ottoman conquest. It was restored as a Mosque due to the belief that the Prophet Omer was here during the 7th century. The muezzin still calls the faithful to prayer five times a day.
Between 1567 and 1570 the ruling Venetians built a circular fortified wall around the original city, with a circumference of 4.5 km and 11 heart-shaped bastions. Entrance to the city was through three gates – The Famagusta Gate, Pafos Gate and Kyrenia Gate. Famagusta Gate has been restored and is now the Municipal Cultural Centre. The moat is now used as a public garden and car parking space.
Politiko Village, 0.5 km from the Royal Tombs
Agios Irakeidios was the first Bishop of Cyprus. He was the guide for Saints Paul and Barnabas and many miracles are attributed to him. Now used as a nunnery, the current monastic buildings date from the late 18th century.
The first settlement at Dhali, ancient Idalion, dates back to the Bronze Age. One of the city-kingdoms of Cyprus, ancient legend says that Adonis was killed by a wild boar nearby. Dhali became a prosperous town on the camel route. A new Museum is well worth a visit.
41km south of Lefkosia, through Deftera and Pera villages. The Monastery is said to have been founded by two monks in 1148.
Mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey as Temese, the area of Tamassos was reputed to have an endless supply of copper. Excavations here have revealed copper workshops associated with Aphrodite – Astarte – and two 6th century BC tombs with unusual decorative carvings. The name Cyprus is thought to have been derived from the word copper.
Offered free of charge by the Municipality of Lefkosia in collaboration with the Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Cyprus Tourist Guides Association. Walks are in English and depart from the CTO office (11 Aristokyprou Str., Laiki Geitonia) at 1000hrs:
*Walking Tour of Lefkosia (Thursdays)
*Chrysaliniotissa and Kaimakli: The Past Restored (Mondays).
*Lefkosia: outside the Walls (Fridays).