Nicosia with some 315,000 inhabitants, is the capital of Cyprus and is the only large town in the interior of the island. It is also the only divided capital left in Europe, as a result of the Turkish invasion in 1974. The city (and the rest of Cyprus), is divided by a United Nations buffer zone known as the “Green Line”. A further 85,000 inhabitants live in the northern part of Nicosia, now called Lefkosia. You can cross into the Turkish sector either at the pedestrian crossing at Ledra Street in the centre of Nicosia, or by car at the Ledra Palace.
Nicosia can be reached by car from Panoramic Village, in around 45 mins as most of the drive is on the A1 motorway. Nicosia is often described as a cosmopolitan centre of business and culture, and is regarded as the main shopping area in Cyprus. The shops sell locally produced items such as pottery and embroidery, as well as larger stores (including an IKEA superstore) that sell products such as perfume and fashion. These generally retail at a lower price than in other parts of Europe.
Nicosia has a rich history that can be traced back to the Bronze Age. It became the capital of Cyprus in the 11th century, and it was turned into a magnificent city with a Royal Palace and over 50 churches. Today it blends its historic past with the bustle of a modern city. The heart of the old city, enclosed by 16th century Venetian walls, is dotted with museums, ancient churches and medieval buildings as well as little shops, cafes and tavernas.
The Famagusta gate was one of the original entrances to the city, and most of the old churches are found in this area. The Cyprus Museum which is home to Cyprus’ most important collection of antique treasures dating back to the Roman and Neolithic periods, can also be found in this area. Other places of interest include the Jewels Museum, the Archbishop’s Palace and the stunning Municipal Theatre.