Fun things to do in Nicosia

  • Venetian coats-of-arms over the entrance
    Venetian coats-of-arms over the entrance
    by leics
  • Buyuk Han exterior
    Buyuk Han exterior
    by leics
  • Selimiye Mosque (St. Sophia Cathedral)
    Selimiye Mosque (St. Sophia Cathedral)
    by Twan

Most Viewed Things to Do in Nicosia

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    Turkish Nicosia

    by antistar Updated May 31, 2013

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    The Turkish side of Nicosia is a fascinating look into a hidden and unrecognised world: the capital of a non-nation. Here everything suddenly feels like Turkey. There are Turkish signs, Turkish flags, statues to Kemal Ataturk and Turkish soldiers marching around in full battle dress. On the Greek side there are mosques and Turkish baths, but here it feels solidly Turkish. Oh and you won't forget the giant Northern Cyprus flags painted on the hillside.

    Getting there is a bit of an adventure. Even though the main streets of Greek Nicosia are just meters away from the same streets in the north, these are divided by a deadly No Man's Land that you cannot cross. Instead you must walk out to the west of the city, outside the medieval walls, and then head north through the UN checkpoint.

    Here you will be bombarded by propaganda from both sides. The Greeks are keen to let you know about all the atrocities that they believe the Turks have carried out, during and after the war. You will start to get a sense of the political divisions as you make your way past the physical ones. Passing through customs is a formality - you don't need a visa, and you don't even need your passport stamped. Although they'll happily oblige if you ask them.

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    Europe's last divided City

    by mickeyboy07 Written Aug 6, 2012

    After the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989,Nicosia remains the only divided city in Europe after Turkish Forces invaded the North of the Island in 1974 and divided the capital from east to west.Forty per cent of Nicosia is now under Turkish control with the remaining sixty per cent under Greek-Cypriot control.As you cross the U.N.buffer zone and past security forces check point you see a Nicosia far different from the southern zone.Almost untouched by tourism with a much simplar way of life.Not so many cars and not so many people,but still with its charms.There are a lot of Mosque's and the Turkish-Cypriot flag painted on a nearby hillside can be seen for miles.The scenery in around Northern Nicosia can be spoilt by the numerous Turkish troops and army bases dotted around.

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    Hadigeorgakis Kornesios House

    by greekcypriot Written Apr 12, 2011

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    A very attractive building in the old city of Nicosia.
    The house of Hadigeorgakis Kornesios, also known as the house of the Dragoman. It is a building of the 15th century, a wonderful example of a combination of both Venetian and Ottoman architecture.

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    Liberty Monument

    by antistar Written Dec 12, 2010

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    This isn't, as you might think, a monument to the liberation of Cyprus from the Turks, but from the British. It still sits uncomfortably with the Turkish Cypriots, as it celebrates the actions of the EOKA - the Greek Cypriot freedom fighters. This organisation is viewed with suspicion by Turkish Cypriots because they wanted unification with Greece, and often treated Turks as collaborators. The monument also has no Turkish Cypriots making up the figures, and as this was constructed in 1973, a year before the invasion by Turkey, it gives you an idea of the divisions and tensions on the island in those times.

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    Hamam Omerye Baths

    by antistar Written Dec 12, 2010

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    One of the most beautiful and well kept Turkish baths in Europe can be found in the heart of Greek Nicosia. The carefully restored Hamam Omerye Baths were built during the Turkish occupation, converted from a church that once existed in its place. The baths consist of a mottled beige and yellow rusticated outer wall, constrasting with the smooth, cream domes behind. On cold winter days the steam from the baths leaves white trails in the clear blue sky.

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    Town Hall

    by antistar Written Dec 5, 2010

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    Overlooking Freedom Square, renamed after the Turkish invasion, the Town Hall occupies a prominent, if not central, location. Freedom Square is a popular place for celebrations, such as the celebration of Cyprus's accession to the EU. The Town Hall is an elegant building, tucked into the south side of the city's medieval walls.

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    No Man's Land

    by antistar Written Dec 5, 2010

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    Separating the Greek and Turkish sides of the city is about fifty meters of nostalgia. Frozen in time, every brick, sign, window, beam and slab of pavement is exactly how it was in 1974 when Turkey invaded. Since then anyone foolish enough to step inside this kill zone will be instantly shot. Well at least if you aren't a cat.

    But don't worry too much. The divide is mostly political and symbolic. It's not like the Berlin wall. Turkish and Greek Cypriots are free to travel across the island, and so are you, as long as you go don't try and run across No Man's Land. It's very relaxed around the walls. I drank ouzo with Cypriot soldiers gearing up for New Year's, while "no photographs" signs are routinely flouted.

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    WALK TOWARDS THE LAIKI GITONIA

    by greekcypriot Updated Apr 28, 2010

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    Laiki Gitonia houses the main Tourist Information Centre, where walking tours of Nicosia start on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays. It is a pedestrian area very near Ledras street.
    Until the 1980s, the area was known as a home for various "dens of iniquity". Since then, however, it has been an excellent example of urban renewal, designed to evoke the atmosphere of old Nicosia.
    Laiki Gitonia has seen the restoration of houses that are typical examples of traditional Cypriot urban architecture. The buildings date from the end of the 18th Century, with building materials being mainly wood, sandstone and mudbrick. It is a pedestrianised area of narrow winding streets, combining residential houses with craft shops and tavernas. It is a very popular area for both locals and tourists to browse among its many shops.

    Laiki Gitonia" is part of the heart and soul of the walled City. It covers an area of about 2000 sq. meters and forms a world of its own, away from the hustle and bustle of modern life and yet only 100 yards from the capital's main square (Eleftheria Sq.). Laiki Yitonia is the excellent result of the Municipality's initiative to revive the fascination of the Old City.

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    Take a stroll and Do some Shopping

    by greekcypriot Written Apr 28, 2010

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    Cross Plateia Eleftherias and enter Laiki Geitonia.. This area has been restored as a sanitized version of an old-fashioned Nicosia neighbourhood. You’ll find souvenirs aplenty here – some authentic, some amusing and some trashy. The Diakroniki Gallery at Aristokyprou 2B is a good place to seek out original and facsimile prints and engravings. Nearby, at Ippokratous 2, you can find copies of Byzantine silverware at the Leventis Museum Gift shop.
    Nicosia’s main shopping street, Odos Lidras (Ledra Street), runs north from Laiki Geitonia. It too is pedestrianized, but it could hardly be more different with its big-name department stores and smaller shops doing a thriving trade in copies of designer sunglasses.
    At Plateia Faneromenis, turn right and wander across the square to the Central Market, off Plateia Palaiou Dimarchiou, for a look at how the locals shop: fruit and vegetables, fresh olives, feta cheese and dried herbs are sold from dozens of stalls in this venerable emporium.

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    Drive to the Picturesque Village of FIKARDOU

    by greekcypriot Written Apr 28, 2010

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    This picturesque village is situated 32 km south east of Nicosia, surrounded by peaks of over 1.000 m high.
    The buildings date back from the 19thcentury with modifications and additions made from the 20th century.

    During winter time, there are just 4 people living in the village, all over the age of 65, occupying 4 dwellings. There was a steady fall after 1096 in the population, and the inhabitants moved to either the city or chose to live in larger settlements in search of a better life. During the weekends however a number of families return to the village.
    This small village with its authenticity and the preservation of the sites, attract a great number of both locals and foreigners who come here to visit it, usually during the weekends.

    The local Rural Museum is housed in two of the most interesting traditional dwellings.

    The main activities of the locals is agriculture. In the past there used to be kilns for firing the ceramic half-round tiles and slabs used to construct houses. Mud bricks were also made locally.

    This picturesque village was until recently an isolated self-sufficient settlement. Luckily the 4 people who permanently live in the village continue their traditional activities.

    This picturesque village is situated 32 km south east of Nicosia, surrounded by peaks of over 1.000 m high.
    The buildings date back from the 19thcentury with modifications and additions made from the 20th century.

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    Ataturk Meydam

    by leics Written Jan 4, 2010

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    The central square of north Nicosia..not a huge place, but apparently the main focus of the city's Turkish community for many centuries.

    It is generally known as Sarayonu.

    Spot the Post Office, built by the British........and there are other colonial-syle official buildings.

    In the centre stands a grey ganite column from ancient Salamis, orginally placed here in 1489 by the Venetians. It once had a lion on top (the lion of St Mark) but that has long disappeared.

    In 1915 the British stood the column up again (it had been pulled over during the Ottoman rule) and stuck a globe on top (no idea why).

    I'd have liked time to sit here, people-watch and absorb the atmosphere..there's at least one cafe with outside tables...but there was none.

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    Wander the streets and look at the details.

    by leics Written Jan 3, 2010

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    This is the only way to really get a sense of anywhere.

    As you walk through north Nicosia old town, you'll see so many buildings which are derelict, or semi-derelict, or in the process of slowly being restored.

    There are still may difficulties about ownership of buildings and land, and it is exactly the same in the south.

    If I'd been by myself I would have taken much more time to explore properly......but here are a few photos to give an impression of what the city is like.

    Just be careful taking photos near the Green Line. Matters are still sensitive. I didn't risk it.

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    Mevlevi Tekke

    by leics Updated Jan 3, 2010

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    I really liked this small ethnographic museum, set in a building which was home to the Mevlevi dervish order.

    The turning floor (big enough for perhaps six devotees) is fitted out with mannequins, the musicians' gallery too......and music is piped through to set the scene for whirling.

    The refectory area has been restored as well.

    And, in side-chambers, lie the remains of sixteeen former members, their tombs covered by their robes (I think) and their head-dresses propped above.

    Outside, in the courtyard, Ottoman gravestones and gravemarkers are displayed.

    And there are clean toilets.

    I really liked this tiny place. I don't quite know why, for there is not a great deal to see. But perhaps it is simply that is very much brought a sense of 'otherness': this is not the culture to which I am used, and I was pleased to explore just a little of it.

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    Dervis Pasa Konagi (Dervish Pasha Mansion)

    by leics Updated Jan 3, 2010

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    Built in the early 19th century, this large courtyard house belonged to Dervis Pasa, the owner of the first Turkish language newspaper in Cyprus.

    It lies in the Arabahmet district, near to the Grren line and full both restroed and ruinous (partially or almost fully) houses, some of which were once imposing Ottoman mansions.

    This one has been taken over, restored and is now used as an ethnographical museum. the building itself is lovely (its high-celiinged, beamed rooms reminding me of my rather nice Kyrenia hotel) set around a central courtyard with cistern and well.

    Rooms have been furnished appropriately, with both fittings and mannequins in local dress. There are some beautifully-carved dowry chests, and a kitchen full of unfamiliar tools and equipment.

    Upstairs there are displays of embroidery, and outside (near the beautifully clean toilets) is the owner's personal hammam.

    Well worth visting, if only for an insight into how moneyed Turkish Cypriots lived in the 19th century.

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    The Bedestan

    by leics Written Jan 3, 2010

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    Standing next door to Selimiye Camii, the Bedestan is now restored and opened to the public (using EU funding) and well worth visiting.

    This was originally a Byzantine church, later becoming the Roman Catholic church of St Nicholas, and then the Greek Orthodox cathedral,..and then, under Ottoman rule, a storehouse and market.

    There are some lovely bits of Gothic carving still to be seen....a whole row of Green Men on the main entrance!......and it is a lovely building altogether. Even if the interior (used for performances) is closed when you visit, do check out the carvings, reliefs and gargoryles on the exterior.

    More photos in my Bedestan travelogue

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