Nicosia is the capital city of Cyprus (and Northern Cyprus) and its largest city at the same time. It is located in the central part of the island on the Mesaoria plain, on the banks of the River Pedieos (Kalindere). It is the seat of the government and the island’s main business centre. Nicosia is the capital of the administrative unit called the Nicosia District. It is divided into two parts: northern part (Turkish) and southern part (Greek) which are separated from each other by the Green Line, demilitarized zone maintained by the United Nations. Turkish Cypriots consider the northern part of Nicosia as the capital city of the country called Northern Cyprus, which is not recognized by the international community (only by Turkey). Nicosia is an important industrial, cultural and tourism hub of Cyprus. Textiles, leather, ceramics and plastic are manufactured there. There are also copper mines not far from the city. Nicosia is also a home of the University of Cyprus.
The Old Town surrounded by fortifications from the 15th Century deserves attention. It is best to sightsee the Old Town on foot, starting your walk from Platia Elefterias. On the way to the Green Line, it is recommended to view the Faneromeni Church dating back to 1872 and the nearby Arablar Mosque.It is also worth going to the local market and then to the Archbishop’s Palace from there. The palace is a complex of buildings erected at the Kyprianos Square. You can easily reach the Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios Mansion from there – a flamboyant house where the then dragoman of Cyprus used to reside in the 18th Century. The official role of a dragoman in Cyprus was to liaise between the Orthodox community and the Ottoman authorities. There is the Omeriye Mosque nearby, which was originally the Church of St. Mary of the Augustinian’s from the 14th Century. We will also come across a Turkish bath here. The Tripiotis Church is yet another monument which was built by the Archbishop Germanos II in the end of the 17th Century. Another building located within the Old Town worth our attention is Panagia Chrysaliniotissa Church from the 15th Century. There are also numerous museums in Nicosia, eg. the Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia, The Cyprus Museum as well as the Cyprus Ethnographical Museum.
If you want to cross the Greek-Turkish border in the city, you should get to the crossing point next to the Ledra Palace. You should have your passport with you. The northern part of the city seems to be more neglected. However, there are a couple of interesting places there which are worth visiting. They are all located within a small space. Next to the Turkish border inspection post, there is the 17th Century Arab Ahmet Pasha Mosque, built as a tribute to the conqueror of Cyprus. There is supposed to be a hair of the Prophet Muhammad in its interiors. The Selimiye Mosque (Selimiye Camii) is one of the most interesting mosques, established in the 16th Century after transforming the Christian cathedral Agia Sophia into a Muslim temple. The Selimiye Square and Atatürk Square as well as the Ethnographic Museum located in the previous Dervish monastery – the Mevlevi Tekke – are also worth our attention.
Limassol is the second largest city in Cyprus, situated on the Akrotiri Bay on the southern coast of the island. It is a very important administrative centre with 200,000 inhabitants. After the year 1974, the city became the biggest jumping-off point on the Mediterranean Sea and an important tourism centre. All its virtues stem from the long cultural tradition. There are a couple of museums and archeological sites of international importance. Limassol was established between two ancient cities Amathus and Kurion. For this reason it used to be known as Neapolis (“new town”) in the Byzantine period. Numerous resorts spread along the eastern coast to nearby Amathous. The city is constantly developed along the coast and in the direction of the Troodhos Massif. A lot of wine companies, which handle vineyards located on the southern slopes of the Troodhos Massif, have their head offices in the city. Commandaria is one of the most popular wines produced in the region. Wines and cognacs produced in Limassol from grapes that grow in this part of Cyprus are of excellent quality. They have been awarded at international wine fairs. These wines are consumed in large quantities by the Cypriots themselves as well as tourists.
Limassol is the biggest industrial centre of the district. There are over 350 industrial plants here. Textiles, furniture, shoes, beverages, food products, steal, electrical appliances, and other things are manufactured here. The city is also an important trade hub on the island. It has been largely influenced by the presence of the British military base in Episkopi and Akrotiri and a sudden population growth after the Turkish invasion in 1974. The majority of shops are located in the centre of Limassol and along the coast, from the old port in the direction of Amathus. This tourist part of the city if full of hotels, discos and active leisure places. Products that are exported from Cyprus include grapes, wines, locust beans, citrus fruit. Products that are imported to the island include cereal products, cars, machines, clothes, medications, fertilizers and iron. There are a few wonderful beaches full of sand which are convenient for those who like sun and sea bathing. The beach in the area of Dasoudi is taken care after by the Cyprus Tourism Organization.
A port city Famagusta is one of the Northern Cyprus tourist attractions. Historic buildings, unspoiled nature and beaches, which are among the most beautiful in Europe, make this place stand out. It is sometimes referred to as “Gazimagusa” or “Magusa. Numerous hotels invite guests from all around the world. Double ring of walls 3,5 km long, built in the 16th Century by the Venetian rulers in order to defend themselves against the Turks, still stretches around the old town of Famagusta. City walls which are 18 m high are strengthened by a dozen of bastions. Bas reliefs of the Venetian lions are still visible on heir facades. Ditches between the walls could once be filled with sea water. But even such military budget did not prevent the city from being conquered by the Ottomans in 1571.
Other historic monuments of Famagusta are the ruins of the Franciscan Monastery and other churches as well as the remains of villas and palaces of rich merchants and aristocracy. Famagusta is a city where Christian presence and Muslim past cross and mix with each other. St Nicholas Cathedral – a Gothic architectural gem – located in the city centre and almost unchanged for ages – is a symbol of this process. After Christians were expelled from Jerusalem, Famagusta was the closest city on the way to the Holy Land and the Cypriot rulers were crowned in this cathedral from the year 1298, also as nominal kings of Jerusalem. Today it serves as a place of Islamic prayers in Christian-Gothic architecture and embodies co-existence of two world’s religions.
There is no other town in Cyprus that can pride itself in such rich natural heritage as the town of Kyrenia – called Gerinia, then Kirne and finally Girne by the Turks – located on the northern coast. This place owes its unique atmosphere to mild climate, the Levantine Sea together with a horseshoe-shaped bay – which seems to be created specifically for the port – as well as a prolific land at the back of the city, surrounded by a steep mountain range. Girne is a central part of the region with the same name. The town lives mainly from trade and crafts, there are also a few food manufacturing plants and of course numerous tourism service points. Two universities are also town’s pride. It is also worth visiting the city port with its beautiful yachts and fishing boats located between the old defensive walls and the fort, against the Beşparmak mountains. Half-circular quay is full of cafes, bars, bistro restaurants, restaurants and shops. Another place that cannot be missed is the Kyrenia Castle with the fortress, which is located in the old part of the town and date back to the 6th-7th Century. It was first mentioned in written sources in 1191 when it was conquered by Richard the Lionheart. After being taken over by the Venetians, it was rebuilt and survived unchanged till today. It is also worth visiting two mosques and the St Andrew’s Church.
In antiquity there used to be two settlements where now Paphos is located: Old Paphos and New Paphos. The currently inhabited city is New Paphos and it is the fourth biggest city in Cyprus. The city has a very rich history: it was under Roman, Turkish, Venetian and British rule. There are great monuments from every era of the town , thanks to that the town of Paphos is included in the UNESCO list of cultural and natural treasures of the world’s heritage. The unique floor mosaics from the Roman villas – best preserved in the Mediterranean Sea region – are very popular. Today Paphos is a prestigious resort with over 20 beautiful, sandy beaches. Many of them have been awarded with the Blue Flag certificate. Shopping-lovers will be satisfied with a rich offer of numerous shops and shopping centers with the best foreign and local products, located in the centre of Paphos. The town is a great mixture of history, monuments, beautiful landscapes and good climate.