A visit to North Nicosia (or Lefkosa) is a must on your North Cyprus holiday, to see the dramatic changes that are taking place in this ancient city.
North Nicosia and the Green Line
Nicosia is the capital city of both North Cyprus and the south, and the two countries’ border runs right through the middle of the old city, from west to east. Nicosia has been surrounded by sturdy, stone walls since the Venetians built them to deter the Ottoman invaders, and the current border looks flimsy by comparison. Yet this barrier of UN protected barbed wire, the so-called Green Line, is a potent symbol of the divisions between north and south. Learn more about border crossings.
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Nowadays, you can cross the border in Nicosia with ease on a North or south Cyprus holiday, but back in 1979 it was a different story. All the more remarkable, then that the great Master Plan for the reconstruction of Nicosia was begun in this year, although work only truly started in 2001. The UN-sponsored plan is to restore important areas of both North and south Nicosia, and its effects are quite remarkable.
Rebuilding North Nicosia
North Nicosia is emerging from years of scaffolding and coverings to reveal its truly amazing architecture. Gothic churches gleam, their towers augmented by added minarets dating from when they were converted to mosques after the Ottoman invasion of 1571. Historic inns, built for the caravans of wealthy merchants, once again open their gates and welcome visitors, restored as centres for local artists. Colonial houses with their elegant balconies become homes for commercial offices, or excellent restaurants. Even the dry moat outside the walls has been turned into parks and pleasure grounds for its citizens.
North Nicosia: Shopping, Eating and Steaming!
North Nicosia is throwing off years of neglect and emerging as a historic walled city full of wonderful treasures, yet surrounded by a modern, thriving commercial city in its suburbs. The major commercial centre may lie outside the walls now, but inside the old city, trade is booming. The bazaar and market is filled with locals shopping for food and clothing, and you’re always welcome to browse too for souvenirs of your North Cyprus holiday. Restaurants tempt you with a lunch of traditional meze, or a cooling glass of beer on a hot day. Or for those who like to be pampered, you can visit traditional bath houses, where locals and tourists alike can be pummelled and scrubbed clean by masseurs.
North Nicosia Hotels
As North Nicosia develops, perhaps the number of North Nicosia hotels will rise; there are not very many to choose from at present. So, many North Cyprus holidaymakers choose to head away from Nicosia after their flight to North Cyprus, to stay either in Kyrenia (Girne) or Famagusta, and travel in to visit the city. However, if you can stay in Nicosia on your North Cyprus holiday, do try, and experience the magic of this famous city at night.