The name of the capital city of Cyprus dates back approximately 2,250
years to the original settlement of Ledra, which was later renamed
Lefkotheon, but was also sometimes referred to as Ledron.
the Byzantine period
the name changed again to Lefkon, meaning poplar grove. There were a
great many poplar trees lining the banks of the Pedeios river, so the
name was quite apt.
Since the seventh century A.D., Nicosia has been the capital of Cyprus
(except for a brief period during the Venetian period)
because the Arab raids made so many coastal settlements unsafe. Nicosia
was just far enough inland to escape the worst.
Huge, thick ramparts, built
by the Venetians in 1570, encircle the city; the
walls are three and a half miles long and have eleven towers and three
Within these walls are numerous remains from the middle ages and later
Outside, there is no trace
mediaeval settlement that once existed as as materials from those
used at various points in time to restore and maintain the walls.
period, the 19th century traveller Archduke Louis Salvator of
Austria noticed that
"Nicosia is not divided into districts in the usual sense
of the word; the only divisions that could be drawn would be by the
populations of the town. The Turks for instance, occupy the parts about
of Famagusta, near the mosque of Tahta Kale, and especially those
Gates of Kyrenia and Paphos. The Greeks have chosen principally the
between the Episcopal residence and Ayia
Sophia for their dwelling-place, but
are also sprinkled amongst the Turkish population between the Gates of
and Famagusta. The Armenians are mixed up everywhere with the Turks".
houses of old Nicosia
The present day capital of the island has a
population of around 150,000 and it is divided into Turkish and Greek
sectors by a boundary known as the `Green Line' which runs in an
In the old city of Nicosia, beautiful examples of Gothic and Ottoman
architecture abound - the Selimiye Mosque, the
the Arab Ahmet Mosque,
and the Great Inn, to name but a few.
The recent years have seen a renewed interest and
efforts for the urban regeneration of the old city of Nicosia. EC and
UNDP's UNOPS have been instrumental in this drive which has seen many
ancient, mediaeval buildings sympathetically restored and renovated.
Some of these include:
City Map of Nicosia (north)
to plan your visit to the city.
between North and South Nicosia
present there are two main border crossings between the two sectors of
Ledra Palace checkpoint (for pedestrians) which is
in the city centre and Metehan (Ayios Dhometios) checkpoint which is
for crossings by motor vehicles.
It is necessary to have your passport/ID card
presented to the authorities at the border checkpoints. If you are an
EU passport holder or have visa to enter the 'Republic of Cyprus' you
should present your papers to the Turkish-Cypriot authorities at the
border, fill in a white visa slip with your name, passport number and
nationality and then you will be allowed to pass.