There are basic historic assumptions that the city has been continuously inhabited since 2500 BC, Bronze Age. The first residents settled in the fertile plain of Mesaoria, an area which later became a city-state by the Achaeans and named as Ledra. In the 4th century AD Cyprus came under the Byzantine Empire while in 965 AD Nicosia was entitled as the island’s capital.
Throughout the Byzantine period was also the seat of the Archbishop. When Richard the Lionheart arrived in Cyprus, in 1191, he seized the island by Isaac Comnenus, the Byzantine emperor, and sold it to the Knights Templar. Then the latter sold it to Guy of Lusignan, King of Jerusalem, and thus Cyprus was under Frankish occupation from 1192 until 1489. At each state of rule, Frankish, Venetian (1489-1570) and then Ottoman (1570-1878), Nicosia was the administrative and religious seat of the conquerors, while during the Ottoman rule maintained at the same time the seat of the Greek Archbishop. Residents remained inside the Venetian walls up to the British Administration (1878-1955), when the roads connecting the city with the other coastal ones were completed.
When independent status was formally established in Cyprus, Nicosia, in 1960, was the capital of the independent Republic of Cyprus. However, due to the riots of 1963-1964, the capital was divided into the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot parts and it unfortunately remains up to date the only divided capital.
Despite the above-mentioned unfavourable circumstances, Nicosia managed to be the political, business and financial center of Cyprus. It hosts the headquarters of Cypriot banks, international companies such as the big four audit firms PWC, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young and many Cypriot newspapers, as well. Moreover, the capital exhilarates by the great student community studying in the city’s five universities, four of which are private (University of Cyprus, University of Nicosia, the European University, Open University and Frederick).
Nicosia is a city blessed with historic and cultural reserves. Ledra Street is now a historical monument itself. A walk in the traditionally busiest shopping street in the capital leads to the more lively part of the old town with its narrow streets, art-cafés and bars. In the eastern part of Ledra one can see Faneromeni Square, which was the center of Nicosia up to 1974. Also, the Archbishop Kyprianou is a memorable square where the seat of Archbishop, thus the heart of the Cypriot Orthodox Church, is located.
The Venetian walls with the three gates surrounding the old city and closing outside the modern Nicosia, are undoubtedly a special landmark within the capital. Each of the gates is responsible for connecting the city with the rest seafront Cyprus. The Kyrenia Gate leads to the northern part of the island, the Famagusta one to Famagusta, Larnaca, Limassol and Karpasia, while Paphos Gate to Paphos and the rest of the western Cyprus. The walls enclose the historic Eleftheria Square, where the Town Hall, the Post Office and the Municipal Library are situated.
A tour within the capital should certainly include a visit to its museums. It is widely known that the largest and richest collection of worldwide antiquities on the island is kept in the Archaeological Museum in Nicosia.
Other notable museums are the Byzantine, Folk Art, the Museum of Struggle, with documents and photographs from the National Liberation Struggle 1955-1959 and finally Levendis Municipal Museum which outlines the lifestyle of the capital’s inhabitants during the different periods, from antiquity up to now.
nicosia food culture