Cyprus: Lefkosia (Nicosia)
After our last visit in Larnaka we drove to the capital city of Cyprus known to the world as Nicosia. According to our guide the local people prefer to call it Lefkosia.
Our tour of the city started in front of the main church in the country – the Cathedral of St John. Beside the Cathedral is the monument of the first president of independent Cyprus – Archbishop Makarios, standing in front of his palace.
The old town in Lefkosia is very charming:
Lefkosia like the rest of the island is also divided into two parts by the Green Line. Today, we crossed the line one more time and we walked in the Turkish part of the Old Town.
Nicosia has been in continuous habitation since the beginning of the Bronze Age 2500 years BCE.
The city’s partition began in 1963. The so-called ‘Green Line’ came into being at this time when the British army defined the Greek and Turkish areas by using a simple green pen on a military map. The name has stuck to this day.
The Turkish invasion of 1974 cemented the division of the city, which has remained bisected ever since, chaperoned by the watchful eyes of UN peacekeeping forces.
In 2003 crossing the Green Line was made possible for ordinary citizens, resulting in a number of Turkish Cypriots going to work on the southern side of the capital. The Greek Cypriots, in turn, frequent the North’s numerous casinos and head to the northeast’s wild coastline. (Lonely Planet Travel Guide, Cyprus, 2015)
Selimiye Mosque. North Nicosia’s most prominent landmark, which is also clearly visible from the southern half of the city. This strange-looking building, a cross between a French Gothic church and a mosque, has a fascinating history.
Work started on the church in 1209 and progressed slowly. Louis IX of France, on his way to the Crusades, stopped by in 1248 and gave the building process much-needed help by offering the services of his artisans and builders. It took the church another 78 years to be completed. It was consecrated in 1326 as the Church of Agia Sofia.
When the Ottomans arrived in 1571, they stripped the building of its Christian contents and added two minarets. Lonely Planet Travel Guide, Cyprus, 2015
Until today, this typical French Gothic church is used as a mosque.
In the afternoon, we drove to Limassol where we will stay for 3 nights.
We ended the day with a diner in a very nice typically Greek restaurant:
The food was gooooooood!!!