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Nicosia

Cyprus

Background

Located on the River Pedieos at the European-Asian divide of Cyprus, the capital city of Nicosia (or Lefkosia) is the country's largest and most diverse city, with the Green Line border dividing the Greek Cypriot south (the Republic of Cyprus) and the Turkish Cypriot north (the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus). With a history dating back to 2500 BC, Nicosia has been a prime location for settlers during the Bronze Age, the Roman era, Byzantine times, Medieval times and the Ottoman Empire straight through to today. 

In the 1800s, it came under the rule of Great Britain, finally breaking free in 1960 as the capital of the Republic of Cyprus, owned by both the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, tensions formed between these two halves, who refused to see eye-to-eye regarding constitutional matters. A Green Line was drawn down the middle of Nicosia representing the divide between its two owners.

Today, tensions have eased somewhat. As of October 2016, though, Nicosia became the only capital city in the world with two distinct time zones. 

Things to do in Nicosia

Ancient ruins, the Ottoman-era Famagusta Gate, and quirky attractions like the Folk Art Museum and whirling Dervish performances make Nicosia a worthy stop on any trip to Cyprus. 

Nicosia old town is dominated by narrow streets that are perfect for exploring on foot. Take a stroll down Ledra Street, a major shopping route that links the north and south parts of the city via the Ledra Street Border Crossing. Here you'll find luxury goods stores, small specialty shops and cafes. For entertainment, the Makarios III Amphitheatre, which was built on the ground of the School for the Blind, regularly hosts cultural events and concerts. 

It's also worth getting some culture at the Cyprus Museum and the Byzantine Museum. And if you feel like getting out of the city, the 11th-century Kykkos Monastery is just an hour and a half west of Nicosia in the Troodos Mountains. The monastery houses a well-known icon of Virgin Mary, which is covered up as its said to blind whomever looks at it. 

To get to Lefkosia, fly in to Larnaca Airport, which is about 30 minutes away by car. 

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