Nicosia (or Lefkosia in Greek) is the only divided city in Europe. It might be described as the most conservative city in Cyprus. Its cental location, almost in the centre of Cyprus, makes its summers drier and hotter than the coast. Instead of the sea breeze, here you will feel an air of sophistication and cultural diversity that reinforces its capacity as a European capital. Though not a holiday destination as such, it has a lot to offer and certainly deserves a visit. With a rich history that can be traced back to the Bronze Age, Lefkosia only became the capital in the 11th century AD, and it was the Lusignans who transformed it into a magnificent city with a royal palace and over fifty churches. Later, in the 16th century, the Venetians gave it its trademark city walls, which completely encircle the Old City. The massive and architecturally impressive walls have a circumference of 4,5 km, with eleven heart- shaped bastions and three gates to the city. The walls divide Lefkosia into the Old City within, and the modern and continuously developing city outside the walls. As you stroll along the streets of the Old City, keep an eye out for hidden specialized museums, ancient churches and medieval buildings. Whole neighbourhoods as well as selected buildings are being restored and renovated to preserve the atmosphere of bygone days. Sadly, Lefkosia is still divided, with the demarcation Green Line running right across the Old City from east to west. The Municipality of Lefkosia is making serious efforts - with visible results - to revive the stagnating areas along the Green Line, in anticipation of reunification, which is the ultimate goal of both communities on either side of the divide. Crossing over from one side to the other, either on foot at Ledra Street or by car at the Ledra Hotel, is possible upon presentation of your ID card or passport.
If you happen to be in Nicosia on a Sunday, plan on taking a stroll within the City Walls and explore the pedestrian streets of Ledra and Onasagorou down to the prominent Phaneromeni Church. This bustling area as well as the yard of the Phaneromeni School behind the church is emerging as a popular venue for musical events and dance performances. Even if you’ve just missed an event, explore the depths of Lefkosia as you make your way to the old municipality square. En route you will discover tiny yet interesting local designer boutiques, before you ultimately reach the heart of the old city: the municipal farmers market, abuzz with shoppers stocking up for the coming week. End your morning walk with a traditional bite or refreshment in the old city’s quaint restaurants or coffee shops.