The capital city is surrounded by sturdy 16th century stone walls built by the Venetians to replace the inadequate medieval walls they inherited. Despite being considered a great example of military defences of the era, they proved to be practically useless: The Ottomans overran the city before the construction could be completed.
This gate through Nicosia's five-kilometres of Venetian city walls (dating from the mid 1500s) used to be the main entrance to its Turkish district.
Road-widening in the Thirties (there's a memorial date still visible) means it is now stranded on an island in the middle of the traffic.
The Venetians called it 'Porta de la Proveditore' and added the lion of St Mark (and a portcullis).
A marble slab (see photo) was added when the city came under Ottoman rule.
Kyrenia gate is the most impressive of the three gates that existed in the Venetian city walls of the town, the other two being the Famagusta and the Paphos gate. This gate was built in 1562 and originally it had an Italian name: porta del provveditore; which meant city guard gate. If you pay attention you will see the Lion of Saint mark on the gate, which is the symbol of Venice.
When the ottomans took over the city, they added an incription to Allah, opener of the gate. Why? Because this gate would be locked at night, after the evening prayr, and would again in the early morning when it was praying time. Kyrenia gate is now the home of the North Nicosia tourist office.
Nicosia's Venetian fortifications are its most obvious feature and a good place to start your wanderings. Of the 11 bastions, named after Venetian personalities, 5 fall into the Greek zone and 5 now, confusingly renamed, into the Turkish zone. The Flatro bastion, in the no-man's land between the zones, is under UN Control. 3 surviving gates, called Pafos, Kyrenia and Famagusta after the towns which they face, breach the walls roughly 120 degrees apart.
Tucked into an angle of the Caraffa bastion, the Famagusta Gate is the most elaborate and best preserved of Nicosia’s 3 gates. Designed by Giulio Savorgnano as a copy of another Venetian structure in Iraklion, Crete, and thus long known as the Porta Giuliana, the gate is essentially a tunnel through the walls. The inner façade, with its 6 coats-of-arms and original wooden doors, is far more aesthetic than the mean outer portal. After more than a century of neglect, the great domed chamber that opens out at the centre of the tunnel was refurbished in 1981 as an exhibition concert venue, the heart of the latter is acoustically marvellous, gently inclined tunnel surmounted by a dome like a miniature Parisian Pantheon.
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Just before the Ottomans conquered Cyprus, Venetians started building the city walls on top of the old Lusignan ones. The walls have a circumference of three miles, eleven bastions each like a castle, and three gates.
The one facing North is called the Kyrenia Gate (Porta Del Proveditore). The one in the East is called the Famagusta Gate (Porta Guiliana), while the one in the west is referred as the Paphos Gate (Porta Domenica). The last two gates are in southern Nicosia.
The Kyrenia gate is one of three gates in the Venetian wall built in 1562, in those days the gate would be locked at night.
There are old venetian walls also in my town .
This because Bergamo, my town, was, in the same period of Nicosia, a venetian town!
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