Nicosia Climate Culture of the Capital of Cyprus

cyprus 1376808 1920


As the last divided city in Europe; Nicosia enjoys a certain degree of international notoriety. However, the Cypriot capital's to do list doesn't make for great reading and Nicosia is understandably omitted form many visitor's itineraries (although it does have a rich past).

Nicosia came to prominence in The Middle Ages with a succession of visits from a number of historical heavyweights. Richard the Lionheart besieged Nicosia on his way to Jerusalem and later sold the island to the Knights Templar. The locals weren't happy and took control of the city, passing governance to Guy de Lusignan in 1192. Unfortunately their new patron turned out to be a ruthless despot and it wasn't long before the Nicosians realised the error of their ways. The self styled king stamped his authority on the city by fortifying it and constructing a number of impressive gothic buildings, many of which can still be seen today.

The sacking of Nicosia by the Ottomans in 1570 turned it into a ghost town and it would be a further three hundred years before fortunes revived under the British. The Cypriots took rude economic health as an excuse to exercise their passion for chaotic urban development, and it wasn't long before the skyline was transformed into a dispiriting jumble of high rise blocks. The influx Greek Cypriots in 1974 did little to help the urban planning situation.

Factor in dry landlocked winds and searing heat and you begin to understand why Nicosia is so often overlooked. Yet it's worth giving the capital a chance. Once you've overcome the initial climatic and aesthetic disappointments, you'll find that Nicosia has plenty to offer, including a good crop of bars and restaurants and a handful of beautiful churches and museums. Make sure your wanderings of the capital include the Gardens of Kykkos Monastery, the Old City's church and the Ledra Street crossing.

In a world where Cold War partition is a distant memory the Green Line has itself become something of a tourist attraction. The humourless guards manning the Ledra Palace checkpoint allow tourists to visit the north on day trips, but if you stay the night you won't be allowed back in. The experience gives visitors a tangible sense of what it is like to live in a divided land and some insight into the tensions existing between the neighbouring peoples.