Apart from having the dubious notability of being the last divided city in the world, Nicosia is a thriving centre of business and commerce. While much of Cyprus is mainly concerned with tourism, Nicosia is often overlooked which is a big shame because it has much to offer visitors in terms of culture and history.
From the imposing Venetian walls and the UN-patrolled no man’s land to a fabulous shopping area and the vibrant hum of the City, Nicosia offers everything that you would expect from a thriving capital. It is a truly cosmopolitan community with many European businesses having offices there along with a host of foreign embassies and the countries own presidential palace.
Shop on both sides of town
Ledra Street is one of the main shopping areas in the city and it provides visitors with the unique experience of shopping on both sides of the North-south divide via a short walk through the border crossing. The area immediately over the northern side of the walkthrough crossing point is home to dozens of small cafes and shops selling everything from souvenirs to faux designer label clothing.
You will need to show your passport to cross over and the customs officers on the south side have an aversion to fake designer goods which means they are likely to be confiscated upon your return, so it’s best not to bother buying them. Depending on how much time you have to spend in Nicosia the southern side of town is littered with branded retailers and there is even a larger shopping mall on the way into the city coming from the South East coastal resorts.
Culture and history
Just how much is actually left of the 450-year-old city walls is a testament to the engineering and innovation of the Venetians who ruled Cyprus until the Ottoman Empire drove them out in 1570. The section of the wall adjacent to the bus station and main public car park clearly illustrate where the moat that was fed by the river Pedieos would have been. The river originally flowed right through the middle of the walled city before being diverted to feed the moat. Water was then brought in using what is now the oldest remaining aqueduct on the island.
Despite the British carting off much of the countries archaeological treasures during the occupation and colonisation that ended as recently as 1960, there are still dozens of notable museums in the city. These include the Byzantine Museum and Art Galleries of Archbishop Makarios established in the city in 1978. It displays rare religious icons from as far back as the 5th century along with works of art across a diverse period. Mosques, cathedrals, official government buildings, and even a classic motorcycle museum can all make your visit to Nicosia a highly informative and interesting one.
Beer, food, and colonial architecture
After taking in the shops, history, and local culture you are sure to have worked up both a thirst and an appetite. The great news is that you are in the best place to sample a diverse range of multicultural and ethnic foods in some of the most authentic surroundings on the island. These include the Pivo Microbrewery that currently serves 4 distinctly Czechoslovakian beers and a seasonal brew in quaint traditional surroundings.
Many of the old colonial style buildings that have recently been painstakingly renovated house trendy eateries, pavement cafes, and specialist shops such as the weaving mill which is somewhere that local entrepreneurs meet. As the famous British actor Michael Cain is reputed to have said “not a lot of people know that” and in this case, it’s that Nicosia is home to “Lost and Found” which is one of the world’s top 50 bars!
Making the most of your visit to Nicosia
If you treat this article as a snapshot that merely scratches the surface of what this fascinating capital city has to offer, you will be on the right track. A quick search on the net combined with a little forward planning could make your visit to Nicosia even more worthwhile and interesting.
For friendly and helpful advice concerning places to visit in Cyprus, or to book your holiday there, please contact us at Cyprus Sun Holiday Rentals, or call us on 00 357 2383 1194.