Nicosia Northern Cyprus

Nicosia - Northern Cyprus

With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the capital of Northern Cyprus, Nicosia, is now the world's only divided city. It is commonly agreed that there were inhabitants living in a small town on the site as far back as 5000 BC. However, it was not until the seventh century that the town achieved any prominence and it took on its current name under the French Lusignan dynasty.

Since 2003 it has been possible to cross the green line freely with a valid passport or identity card and this has contributed to the general feeling of increased prosperity. Since 1991, northern Nicosia has undergone a rebuilding and restoration programme where churches, augmented by minarets after the Ottoman invasion in 1571, have been revealed and historic inns built for wealthy merchants have been reopened.

The city's top attraction is the Selimiye , formerly the St. Sophia Cathedral, completed in 1228 that has survived a number of earthquakes subsequently. The heavy defensive walls built around the old city by the Venetians in the Middle Ages can be seen on the approach into Ercan Airport on a clear day. These surround a mediaeval city full of treasures.

Other sites to see include the Great Inn or Buyak Han, one of the two remaining of a network of inns run across Cyprus after the Ottoman invasion, the Arabahmet set amongst trees and an immaculate garden and the Venetian column, originally from the temple of Jupiter in the ruins of the Roman city of  Salamis, not far from Famagusta.

The modern northern Nicosia is now both a walled city full of treasures for history lovers and a modern, thriving commercial community. Although most business goes on outside the historic centre, the old city is flourishing. The bazaar and market are always full of food, clothes and souvenirs.