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The front porch is as grand an entrance as ever graced a European cathedral, with fine carvings all around the three doors. Ever resourceful, the invading Ottoman used the tower bases to add two minarets to their newly-converted mosque. Right up until , the muezzin had to climb steps five times every day to call the faithful to prayer; now a recorded message and loudspeaker do the work instead! You can still see the minarets towering above the old city buildings from across North Nicosia. Inside the Selimiye Camii, the plain interior gives a spacious and serene feel to this grand building.
The original cathedral features have been carefully reused, such that the old lady chapel now contains the mithrab that orientates the mosque towards Mecca. North Cyprus quick: holidays flights hotels property kyrenia famagusta photos map weather history news. All text is copyrighted by Cyprus Photographs are copyrighted by their respective photographers.
However, that text also refers the city as "Leucotheon", and early Christian sources of this period are the first to use similar variations of the name Lefkosia e. The name is recorded in the majority of Byzantine sources as "Leukousia", and it is accepted in literature that the name "most probably" derives from the Greek phrase "leuke ousia" "white estate". Nicosia has been in continuous habitation since the beginning of the Bronze Age years BC, when the first inhabitants settled in the fertile plain of Mesaoria.
Only one king of Ledra is known: Onasagoras. The kingdom of Ledra was destroyed early. By BC, Ledra was recorded to be a small unimportant town. During this era, Ledra did not have the huge growth that the other Cypriot coastal towns had, which was primarily based on trade. After the destruction of Salamis , the existing capital of Cyprus, by Arab raids in , along with extensive damage to other coastal settlements, the economy of the island became much more inward-looking and inland towns gained relative significance.
Nicosia benefited from this and functioned as an outlet of the agricultural products from its hinterland, the Mesaoria plain. It further was at an advantageous position due to its ample water supply. As such, the town developed enough for the Byzantine Empire to choose Nicosia as the capital of the island around , when Cyprus rejoined the Byzantine Empire.
From that point on it has remained as the capital of Cyprus. Nicosia was the seat of the Byzantine governor of Cyprus; the last Byzantine governor was Isaac Komnenos , who declared himself emperor of the island and ruled the island from to The Byzantines did, however, build a relatively weak fort within the city. He himself stopped first at Crete and then at Rhodes. Three ships continued on, one of which was carrying Joan of England, Queen of Sicily and Berengaria of Navarre , Richard's bride-to-be.
Two of the ships were wrecked off Cyprus, but the ship bearing Joan and Berengaria made it safely to Limassol. Joan refused to come ashore, fearing she would be captured and held hostage by Isaac Komnenos of Cyprus , who hated all Franks.
Her ship sat at anchor for a full week before Richard finally arrived on 8 May. Outraged at the treatment of his sister and his future bride, Richard invaded. Richard laid siege to Nicosia, finally met and defeated Isaac Komnenos at Tremetousia and became ruler of the island, but sold it to the Knights Templar. The Frankish rule of Cyprus started from and lasted until During this time, Nicosia was the capital of the medieval Kingdom of Cyprus , the seat of Lusignan kings, the Latin Church and the Frankish administration of the island.
During the Frankish rule, the walls of the city were built along with many other palaces and buildings, including the gothic St. Sophia Cathedral. The tombs of the Lusignan kings can be found there. The exonym Nicosia appeared with the arrival of the Lusignans. The French-speaking Crusaders either could not, or did not care to, pronounce the name Lefkosia , and tended to say "Nicosie" translated into Italian and then internationally known as "Nicosia".
In Nicosia was occupied and ravaged by the Republic of Genoa and in from the Mamluk Sultanate. In , when Cyprus came under the rule of the Republic of Venice , Nicosia became their administrative centre and the seat of the Republic.
The Venetian Governors saw it as a necessity for all the cities of Cyprus to be fortified due to the Ottoman threat. The design of the bastion is more suitable for artillery and a better control for the defenders. In it was later diverted outside onto the newly built moat for strategic reasons, due to the expected Ottoman attack. On 1 July , came under the rule of the Ottomans. The story of the Cypriot martyr Arnaude de Rocas dates from the fall of Nicosia.
Some 20, residents died during the siege and every church, public building, and palace was looted. The devastation of the city was so extensive that for the few years after the conquest, a number of villages in the island had a larger population than Nicosia.
The Palazzo del Governo of Venetian times became the seat of the Pasha, the governor of Cyprus, and the building was renamed as the Konak or Seraglio Saray. The square outside was known as Seraglio Square or Sarayonu literally front of the Saray , as it is known to the present day. The saray was demolished in and the present block of Government Offices built on the site. When the newly settled Turkish population arrived they generally lived in the north of the old riverbed.
Greek Cypriots remained concentrated in the south, where the Archbishopric of the Orthodox Church was built. Other ethnic minority groups such as the Armenians and Latins came to be settled near the western entry into the city at Paphos Gate. The names of the 12 quarters into which Nicosia was originally divided at the time of the Ottoman Conquest are said to be derived from the 12 generals in command of divisions of the Ottoman army at the time.
Each general being posted to a quarter, that quarter with two exceptions was known by his name as follows:. Later the number of neighbourhoods was increased to Each neighbourhood was organised around a mosque or a church, where mainly the respective Muslim and Christian communities lived. Nicosia came under the rule of the United Kingdom on 5 July in consequence of the Cyprus Convention [ why? The Nicosia column was presumably erected in compliment to the reigning Doge Francesco Donati about the year Just after the British Occupation a Municipal Council was constituted in Nicosia in for the general administration of public affairs within the city and for a certain area without the walls, under the presidency of a Mayor.
In the municipal limits were extended further see map and this new area was divided among several of the existing intramural Neighbourhoods. In an armed struggle against British rule began aiming to unite the island with Greece, Enosis. The struggle was led by EOKA, a Greek Cypriot nationalist military resistance organisation,   and supported by the vast majority of Greek Cypriots. The unification with Greece failed and instead the independence of Cyprus was declared in During the period of the struggle, Nicosia was the scene of violent protests against British rule.
In , the Greek Cypriot side proposed amendments to the constitution, which were rejected by the Turkish Cypriot community. Nicosia was divided into Greek and Turkish Cypriot quarters with the Green Line , named after the colour of the pen used by the United Nations officer to draw the line on a map of the city.
The fighting left the island with a massive refugee problem on both sides. On 23 April , the Ledra Palace crossing was opened through the Green Line, the first time that crossing was allowed since Winter precipitation is occasionally accompanied by sleet but rarely by snow. The accumulation of snow is particularly rare last events occurred in , and There is occasionally light frost during the winter nights.
At the Lefkopa weather station in Nicosia, the temperature reached Ledra Street is in the middle of the walled city. The street today is a historic monument on its own. During the EOKA struggle that ran from to , the street acquired the informal nickname The Murder Mile in reference to the frequent targeting of the British colonialists by nationalist fighters along its course.
Various streets which ran between the northern and southern part of the city, including Ledra Street, were blockaded. During the Turkish army invasion of Cyprus in , Turkish troops occupied northern Nicosia as well as the northern part of Cyprus. A buffer zone was established across the island along the ceasefire line to separate the northern Turkish controlled part of the island, and the south.
The buffer zone runs through Ledra Street. After many failed attempts on reaching agreement between the two communities, Ledra Street was reopened on 3 April Faneromeni Church, is a church built in in the stead of another church located at the same site, constructed with the remains of La Cava castle and a convent.
There rest the archbishop and the other bishops who were executed by the Ottomans in the Saray Square during the revolt. Although it seems very old, it is a wonderful imitation of typical Venetian style, built in Next to the palace is the late Gothic Saint John cathedral with picturesque frescos.
The square leads to Onasagorou Street , another busy shopping street in the historical centre. The walls surrounding the old city have three gates. In The Kyrenia Gate which was responsible to the transport to the north, and especially Kyrenia , the Famagusta Gate which was responsible for the transport from Famagusta , Larnaca and Limassol and Karpasia , and the Paphos Gate for transport to the west and especially Paphos.
All three gates are well-preserved. The historical centre is clearly present inside the walls, but the modern city has grown beyond. Presently, the main square of the city is Eleftheria Freedom Square , with the city hall, the post office and the library.
The square, which is under renovation, connects the old city with the new city where one can find the main shopping streets such as the prestigious Stasikratous Street , Themistokli Dervi Avenue and Makarios Avenue. Nicosia is also known for its fine museums.
The Archbishop's Palace contains a Byzantine museum containing the largest collection of religious icons on the island. Leventis Municipal Museum is the only historical museum of Nicosia and revives the old ways of life in the capital from ancient times up to our days. Nicosia also hosts an Armenian archbishopric , a small Buddhist temple, a Maronite archbishopric , and a Roman Catholic church.
The square has been dubbed as "the heart of Nicosia" and historically has been the cultural center of the Turkish Cypriot community. The avenue has been described as "the symbol of the walled city", and is filled with numerous shops and restaurants.
Next to the Ledra Street checkpoint is the Arasta area. The area was pedestrianized in and is home to a network of historic shopping streets, reflecting an eastern shopping tradition with food and traditional items. Still a residential area, the neighborhood is considered to be one of the best representations of the Cypriot culture.
The mosque is the chief religious center in Northern Cyprus. It was built between and by the Latin Church of Cyprus, in a Gothic style resembling French cathedrals. It was used as a marketplace in the Ottoman era. Today, it is used as a cultural center where various cultural activities such as concerts and festivals take place.
The quarters of Nicosia outside the walled city are more spacious than the walled city, with wider roads and junctions. These areas are characterized by multi-floor concrete buildings. In the outskirts of the city, a number large and imposing villas have been built that belong to the middle and upper-classes. Greater Nicosia is administered by several municipalities.
In the centre is the city municipality of Nicosia itself see below. The population of the conurbation is , census, plus Turkish Cypriot administered census of of which , live within the Nicosia municipal area. Because Nicosia municipality has separate communal municipal administrations, the population of Strovolos 67, Census is actually the largest of all the local authorities in Greater Nicosia. Within Nicosia municipality, most of the population resides in the more recently annexed outlying areas of Kaimakli , Pallouriotissa , Omorfita and Ayii Omoloyites.
There is no metropolitan authority as such for Greater Nicosia and various roles, responsibilities and functions for the wider area are undertaken by the Nicosia District administration, bodies such as the Nicosia Water Board and, to some extent, Nicosia municipality. Dometios, Latsia, Geri and Tseri. The board consists of three persons nominated by the Council of each municipality, plus three members appointed by the government, who are usually the District Officer of Nicosia District, who chairs the Board, the Accountant General and the Director of the Water Department.
The board also supply Anthoupolis and Ergates, for whom the government provide representatives. Thus the board is in the majority controlled by the municipalities of Greater Nicosia in providing this vital local government service. The Nicosia Sewerage Board, is likewise majority controlled by the municipalities of Greater Nicosia. It is chaired ex officio by the Mayor of Nicosia and consists of members chosen by the municipalities of Nicosia 6 members , Strovolos 5 members , Aglandjia 2 members , Lakatamia 2 members , Ay.
Dometios 2 members , Engomi 2 members , Latsia 1 member. The sewage treatment plant is at Mia Milia. Public transport is not controlled by the local authorities, but comes under the Nicosia District administration, which is an arm of the Ministry of the Interior. Transport services primarily bus and taxi are provided by private operators such as OSEL.
The Nicosia Municipality is responsible for all the municipal duties within the walled city and the immediately adjacent areas. The Constitution states that various main government buildings and headquarters must be situated within the Nicosia municipal boundaries. The Turkish Municipal Committees Temporary Provisions Law,  established a municipal authority run by a "Turkish Municipal Committee", defined as "the body of persons set up on or after the first day of July, , in the towns of Nicosia, Limassol, Famagusta, Larnaca and Paphos by the Turkish inhabitants thereof for the purpose of performing municipal functions within the municipal limits of such towns".
The Nicosia Turkish Municipality , founded in , carries out municipal duties in the northern and north-western part of city. The first attempt to establish a Nicosia Turkish Municipality was made in In with the declaration of independence of Cyprus, the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus gave Turkish Cypriots the right to establish their own municipality. Until there were no suburban municipalities. Dometios, Aglandjia, Latsia and Lakatamia were erected into municipalities.
All members of the council are elected directly by the people for a period of 5 years. Nicosia within the city limits is divided into 29 administrative units, according to the latest census. This unit is termed in English as quarter , neighbourhood, parish , enoria or mahalla. Anthony , St. The municipality of Strovolos, established in , is the second largest municipal authority in Cyprus in terms of population after Limassol and encompasses the southern suburbs of the capital immediately adjacent to Nicosia municipality.
Previously a village authority, it now functions as a municipality  within the same area  The suburbs immediately to the north of the city have not been erected into municipalities. Historically Nicosia is a melting pot harmonizing multiple religious establishments, denominations, churches, mosques, synagogues, etc.
One of the oldest Armenian churches known as the Benedictine Abbey of Our Lady of Tyre, was founded in the 13th century as a principal convent following the fall of Jerusalem. In , the Lusignan king, Henry II of Jerusalem , repaired the church after it was destroyed by an earthquake. As many of the nuns were Armenian in origin, it came under the Armenian Church before The church suffered the collapse of some parts and a great deterioration of condition till , when the restoration work began.
Antranik L. The Maronite community is a traditional community in Nicosia. The archeparchy extends its jurisdiction over all the faithful Maronites of the island of Cyprus. The archeparchy at the end of out of a population of , people had 10, baptized, corresponding to 1. Its territory is divided into 12 parishes. The first cathedral was dedicated to St. John, but during the Ottoman occupation it was turned into a mosque. The Lebanese Maronite community erected the church of Santa Croce, later entrusted to the Franciscans, and the current church of Our Lady of Grace is near to the Franciscan church.
Only in was built the seat of the vicarage and the surrounding buildings. Nicosia hosts the largest Russian Orthodox church in Cyprus located in Episkopeio  The church of the Apostle Andrew and all Russian saints is located near the village. The church is constructed in traditional Russian orthodox style.
The construction of the church begun in October and was finished in 7th of July, as it was performed in short terms. It's 5 domes, including the central one that weights 7 tons, were made in Saint Petersburg and were installed by Russian specialists.
The church is the first and only Russian church in Cyprus that has gilded domes. The church of St. Paul was built in when Cyprus was a protectorate of the British Empire. The influence of politics on architecture is evident by the structural elements of the building, which is reminiscent of an English parish church.
The Christian church today is part of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf. The Greek Evangelical Church of Nicosia is a relatively modern architecture serving the local protestant community. Along with special hours dedicated to services of the Greek Evangelical community, it serves as a worship center of local protestants of other nationalities, such as Armenian, American, Romanian, Korean, Chinese, etc. It is located on the Gladstone Street.
As they were not committed, and very few, they quickly became associated with the Mother Church Armenian Apostolic Church , such as Apisoghom Utidjian, the official state documents translator - and the son of Stepan Utidjian, one the original founders of the Armenian Evangelical Church -, who served as Chairman of the Nicosia parish council for 30 years. With the influx of more Protestants , Armenian Evangelicals became affiliated with the Reformed Presbyterian Church as early as Although the main centres were Nicosia and Larnaca , gatherings were occasionally held in Limassol , Famagusta and Amiandos.
There was also a small Armenian Evangelical church, located in Mahmoud Pasha street, in the Turkish-occupied part of the walled city of Nicosia - behind the old American Academy building, near the Arab Ahmed mosque. Prior to its erection, Armenian Evangelicals used to worship God at the Reformed Presbyterian church on Apostolos Varnavas street, opposite the old Powerhouse and behind the building of the Holy Archbishopric of Cyprus.
The church - a vision already since the early s - was eventually built thanks to the initiative of pastor Yohanna Der Megerditchian, with the financial contribution of the Reformed Presbyterian Church and the Armenian Evangelical faithful; its architect was Dickran H. Its foundation stone was laid on 28 July by pastor Yohanna der Megerditchian, who dedicated it on 1 July On the lower part of the right wall to the side of the entrance there is the following inscription in Armenian :.
Perhaps the most iconic religious architecture of Nicosia is the Cathedral of Saint Sophia, also known as the Agia Sophia of Nicosia, which was constructed in the year of as a Catholic church. It was converted into a mosque and it is located in North Nicosia. It has historically been the main mosque of the city. As a mosque it is known as the Selimiye Mosque which is housed in the largest and oldest surviving Gothic church in Cyprus interior dimensions: 66 X 21 m possibly constructed on the site of an earlier Byzantine church .
During the day Ottoman siege of the city in , the cathedral provided refuge for a great number of people. When the city fell on 9 September, Francesco Contarini, the Bishop of Paphos, delivered the last Christian sermon in the building, in which he asked for divine help and exhorted the people.
The cathedral was stormed by Ottoman soldiers, who broke the door and killed the bishop along with others. They smashed or threw out Christian items, such as furniture and ornaments in the cathedral  and destroyed the choir as well as the nave. Following its conversion, the mosque became the property of the Sultan Selim Foundation, which was responsible for maintaining it. Other donors formed a number of foundations to help with the maintenance. In the late 18th century, a large procession that consisted of the leading officials in the front on horseback, followed by lower-ranking officials on foot, came to the mosque every Friday.
Historically Nicosia south and north hosts over 15 mosques, either originally constructed as such or converted from a church. Formerly, the site of the mosque was occupied by the Augustinian Church of Saint Mary, which dated back to the 14th century. During the Ottoman-Venetian War of , the church was first heavily damaged during the siege of Nicosia in , and was eventually levelled after the war. After the Turkish conquest of Cyprus, Lala Mustafa Pasha , the Ottoman commander, ordered a mosque to be built on the site of the former church,  based on a popular belief that Umar , second caliph of Islam, was buried at this site in 7th century.
The Cyprus Museum in Nicosia is the largest and oldest archaeological museum in Cyprus. In old Nicosia, the Ethnological Museum Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios Mansion is the most important example of urban architecture of the last century of Ottoman domination which survives in old Nicosia. Today, the mansion which was awarded the Europa Nostra prize for its exemplary renovation work, functions as a museum where a collection of artifacts from the Byzantine, Medieval and Ottoman periods are displayed.
In the north, the Dervish Pasha Mansion , similar in architecture to the Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios Mansion, serves as an ethnological museum, displaying Ottoman and archaeological artifacts. Art galleries in Nicosia include the Leventis Gallery , which hosts over paintings from Cypriot, Greek or European artists.
Nicosia offers a wide variety of musical and theatrical events, organized either by the municipality or independent organizations.