Nicosia (Lefkosia), the capital of Cyprus, one of the oldest cities in our part of the world, today is a sophisticated and cosmopolitan place in the Eastern Mediterranean, rich in history and culture, combining its historic past with the amenities of a modern city.
The heart of the city, within the 16th century Venetian Walls, has a number of interesting museums and art galleries, Byzantine churches, and a number of medieval and neo-classical buildings while the narrow streets retain the romantic atmosphere of the past.
Much of the charm and beauty of Nicosia is to be found in the old city with its labyrinthine alleyways and elegant courtyard houses. Outside the Walls, the new city with its modern facilities is a cosmopolitan centre of a modern European capital.
Greater Nicosia is probably the only area in Cyprus that can boast continuous habitation since the beginning of the Bronze Age, 2500 BC, when the first inhabitants settled in the fertile plain of Mesaoria.
It is this that makes Nicosia unique among Cyprus’ Bronze Age sites, the fact that settlements in Nicosia thrived and developed, while others ceased to exist.
The earliest known Cypriot Greek inscription dates to c. 1000 BC The contemporary Cypriot Greek—the mother tongue of Greek Cypriots—evolved from later Byzantine Koine, under the influence of the languages of the many colonisers of the island.
As of October 2019, the population of Nicosia is about 320,000 people.
Nicosia covers a total area of 111 square kilometers (43 square miles).
The city has average elevation of 220 meters (720 feet) above sea level.
A coup d’état on July 15, 1974, against the lawful Cypriot government provided a pretext for Turkey to invade the island on July 20 and promote her expansionist plans.
Turkey attempted to present the invasion as a so-called peaceful operation aimed at restoring constitutional order and protecting the Turkish Cypriot community.
However, even after the restoration of constitutional order and the return of President of Cyprus Archbishop Makarios III in December 1974, the Turkish troops remained on the island, promoting Turkey’s plans against Cyprus.
On August 14, 1974, the second phase of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus began, leading to the following tragic consequences:
(a) 37% of Cypriot territory continues to remain under occupation despite repeated UN and other international resolutions calling for respect of the independence and territorial sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus.
(b) Five thousand Greek Cypriots were killed, 180,000 lost their homes and became displaced while 1,619 are recorded missing.
Since 1974, the people of Cyprus are experiencing the tragedy of a divided country, with the Green Line cutting in two the heart of the capital city Nicosia and crushing the dreams of its inhabitants.
FUN FACTS ABOUT Cyprus and its capital Nicosia
Nicosia has been continuously inhabited for over 4,500 years
Cyprus is the birthplace of Greek Goddess of beauty Aphrodite and the home to Neolithic dwellings and Bronze Age tombs.
Nicosia has been the seat of government of Cyprus since the 10th century.
Nicosia is the southeasternmost of all EU member states’ capitals.
Every year Cyprus welcomes around three million tourists.
Cyprus is home to the oldest manufactured wine in the world, named Commandaria.
The island enjoys around 320 days of sunshine a year
Cyprus is home to around 20 rare species of orchids.
Cyprus is the only foreign country to host a British royal wedding, the one between Queen Joanna and King Richard on the 12th of May 1191.
Cyprus is home to one of the most popular dive sites in the world. The Zenobia is one of the ten most important shipwrecks around the world. Every year divers make their way to the Larnaka sea to dive amongst the 1980 wreckage and meet the wildlife that now calls it home.
Roman General Mark Anthony once gifted Cyprus to the Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra.
penetrated my pores,
expanded my whole being.
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
not the filling of a vessel
like a heated opal through the air;
We hoisted sail; the wind was blowing fair.
For the blue lands that to eastward lie.
our religion, our arts have their root in Greece”