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Nicosia, known locally as Lefkosia ( , ), is the capital and largest city of Cyprusmarker. Located on the River Pedieosmarker and situated almost in the centre of the island, it is the seat of government as well as the main business centre. Nicosia is the capital of the Nicosia Districtmarker.

Following the intercommunal violence of the 1960s, the capital was divided between the island's Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities in the south and north respectively. An attempted coup to unite the island with Greece in 1974 led to a Turkish invasion, leaving the capital divided since then, with Turkish Cypriots claiming the north as the capital of their own state, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprusmarker (TRNC) (recognised only by Turkeymarker). On 3 April 2008, as part of efforts to reunify the island, a symbolic wall dividing the two communities at Ledra Streetmarker was opened. Nicosia retains the distinction of being the world's last divided capital.

South of the Green Line, the population of the city is 270,000 (late 2004), while a further 84,893 live in the north. Nicosia is important commercially with many shops, two modern shopping malls, restaurants and entertainment. The city is a trade centre and manufactures textiles, leather, pottery, plastic, and other products. Copper mines are nearby. Nicosia is the seat of the University of Cyprus (UCY) and four other universities.


Nicosia was a city-state known as Ledra or Ledrae in ancient times. The king of Ledra, Onasagoras, was recorded as paying tribute to Esarhaddon of Assyria in 672 BC. Rebuilt by Lefkos, son of Ptolemy I around 300 BC, Ledra in Hellenic and Roman times was a small, unimportant town, also known as Lefkothea. By the time it received its first Christian bishop, Trifillios, in 348, the town was called Lefkousia or Ledra.

Still known as Lefkosia, the city became the island's capital around the 10th century. It had grown in importance because of threats to the coastal cities Paphosmarker and Salamismarker, which made many people flee to the centrally located Lefkosia.

The seat of the Lusignan kings of Cyprus since 1192, it became a Venetianmarker possession in 1489, and fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1571. Ledra is now the actual name of the most popular commercial street.

The exonym "Nicosia" appeared with the arrival of the Lusignans. The "Frankish" Crusaders either could not, or did not care to, pronounce the name Lefkosia, and tended to say "Nicosia". In this era of the Franks, the city expanded culturally, and in the 15th and 16th centuries, saw the erection of a number of palaces, mansions, churches and monasteries.

Some 20,000 residents died as a result of the Ottoman siege of 1570. Man-made and natural disasters further struck the city during the 19th century. The Turks crushed the 1821 anti-Ottoman revolt in blood.

Cholera hit the city in 1835, and fire destroyed large parts of Nicosia in 1857. The British Empire gained control over the island in 1878, with Nicosia serving as the capital of the new British possession.

Nicosia was the scene of extreme violence in the period just prior to Cypriot independence in 1960. Since the Greek supported coup and Turkish invasion which followed it in 1974, part of the city's northern sector has been inside the boundary of a United Nations Buffer Zone.

The tombs of the Lusignan kings are in the former Cathedral of St. Sophia, now a mosque in the northern sector.

The core of the city also has well-preserved Venetian fortifications, built in the 16th century, which encircle the old, medieval part of the city.


As the capital of the republic, Nicosia is Cyprus's political, economic and cultural centre. Greater Nicosia is subdivided into seven municipalities, but the metropolitan authority is the Municipality of Nicosia itself – within whose boundaries the Constitution states that the main government buildings and headquarters must be situated. The other municipalities in the city are Strovolosmarker, Lakatamiamarker, Latsiamarker, Aglandjia, Engomimarker and Agios Dhometiosmarker.According to the constitution of Cyprus Nicosia Municipality was divided into a Greek and Turkish sector with two Mayors: a representative of the Greek community which was the majority, and a second one representing the Turkish community. The Mayors and the members of the Council were appointed by the President of the Republic. Since 1986, the Mayors and members of the Council are elected. The Mayor and the Municipal Councillors are elected by direct popular suffrage but into separate ballots – one for the Mayor and the other for all the Councillors. Municipal elections are held every five years.

Aerial View of Central Nicosia
The Municipality of Nicosia is now headed by the Mayor, who is Eleni Mavrou (former lagilator of the communist party AKEL, supported by her own political party, socialist party EDEK and the Democratic Party and the council comprising of 26 councilors, one of who is Deputy Mayor. The Northern Sector has its own de facto municipality, but that municipality is not internationally recognised because it is part of the non-recognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

The Mayor and the Councillors exercise all the powers vested in them by the Municipal Corporation Law. Sub-committees consisting of members of the Municipal Council act only on an advisory level and according to the procedures and regulations issued by the Council.

The Mayor is the executive authority of the Municipality, exercising overall control and managing the Municipal Council. The Council is responsible for appointing personnel employed by the Municipality. All municipalities in the Republic of Cyprus are members of the Union of Cyprus Municipalities. The executive Committee is the governing organ of the Union. This Committee is appointed from among the representatives of the Municipalities for a term of two and a half years. The Mayor of Nicosia is the President of the Union and the Chairman of the Executive Committee.



Nicosia seen from Spot Satellite
Municipal Theatre, Nicosia
View of Central Nicosia
Although the city has been destroyed more than once by conquerors, there are still enough leftovers to enjoy the past. History is most strikingly experienced at the Venetianmarker city wall, which was constructed between 1567 and 1570. The 4,5 metres thick wall used to have three gates. The Famagustamarker gate is now used as a cultural centre. Some other parts of the wall contain administrative offices. The historical centre is clearly present inside the walls, but the modern city has grown beyond.

The heart of the city is Eleftheria (Freedom) Square, with the city hall, the post office and the library. Adjacent Ledra street leads to the most lively part of the old city with narrow streets, boutiques, and cafés. Agia Fanomereni is a church built in 1872, constructed with the remains of an old castle and a convent. Here rest the Archbishop and the other Bishops who were killed by the Turks during the 1821 revolt. The Palace of the Archbishop can be found at Arkhiepiskopos Kyprianos Square. Although it seems very old, it's a wonderful imitation of typical Venetian style, built in 1956. Next to the palace is the late Gothic Saint John cathedral (1665) with picturesque frescos.

Nicosia is also known for its fine museums. The Archbishop's Palace contains a Byzantine museum where you can admire the largest collection of religious icons on the island. Leventis Municipal Museum is the only historical museum of Nicosia and revives the old ways of life in the capital from ancient times up to our days. Other interesting museums include the Folk Art Museum, National Struggle Museum (witnessing the rebellion against the British administration in the 1950s), Cyprus Ethnological Museum(House of Dragoman Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios) and the Handicrafts Centre.

In Nicosia also there are mosques, like the Selimiye Mosquemarker. This ancient church is the chief mosque in the Turkish occupied part of Nicosia, and the great festivals of Bayram and other Moslem gatherings are conducted here. It was formerly the cathedral of St. Sophia which was built in the period 1209 A.D. to 1228, over the ruins of a previous building.Other famous mosques are Haydarpasha Mosque, and Arabahmet Mosque

Mayors of Nicosia

Leoforos (Avenue) Makariou in the city centre

Pre-Independence (1882-1959)

Post-Independence (1959-Present)


Beginning of Lemesos Avenue, Nicosia

In 2006 the Manifesta Biennale was scheduled to be held in Nicosia for a duration of three months. The project was canceled, however, with the overseas and local organizers blaming each other for its collapse.

The city also hosted the competition of Miss Universe 2000 in Eleftheria Indoor Hallmarker.

The city contains Arabahmet Mosque.


Cyprus Airways has its head office in the southern side of the city.

Cyprus Turkish Airlines has its head office on the North Cyprus side.

Professional sport



Football is the most popular sport in Cyprus, and Nicosia is home of three major teams of the island; APOEL, Olympiakos and Omonia. APOEL and Omonia dominate Cypriot football. APOEL has the record on number of championships and cups. Olympiakos was also successful in the past. There are also many other football clubs in Nicosia and suburbs.

Other sports

Nicosia is also the home for many clubs for basketball, handball and other sports. APOEL and Omonia have basketball and volleyball sections and Keravnos is one of the major basketball teams of the island. The Gymnastic Club Pancypria (GSP), the owner of the Neo GSP Stadiummarker, is one of the major athletics club of the island. Also, all teams in the Futsal First Division are from Nicosia.


Nicosia has some of the biggest venues in the island; The Neo GSP Stadiummarker, the biggest in Cyprus, with capacity of 23,400 is the home for the national team, APOEL, Olympiakos and Omonia. The other big football stadium in Nicosia is Makario Stadiummarker with capacity of 16,000.The Eleftheria Indoor Hallmarker is the biggest basketball stadium in Cyprus, with capacity of 6,500 seats and is the home forthe national team, APOEL and Omonia.The Lefkotheo indoor arenamarker is the volleyball stadium for APOEL and Omonia.

International/European Events

Nicosia hosted the 2000 ISSF World Cup Final shooting events for the shotgun. Also the city hosted two basketball events; the European Saporta Cup in 1997 and the 2005 FIBA Europe All Star Game in the Eleftheria Indoor Hallmarker. Another event which was hosted in Nicosia were the Games of the Small States of Europe in 1989 and 2009.


Nicosia International Airportmarker has not been used since 1974 as it lies within the U.N. Buffer Zone separating the two parts of Nicosia. The nearest airport on the Greek administered side is Larnaca International Airportmarker on the southern coast.

Motorways link Nicosia with other major urban areas in Cyprus. The A1 connects it with Limassolmarker in the south with the A6 going from Limassol onto Paphosmarker.The A2 links Nicosia with the south eastern city of Larnacamarker with the A3 going from Larnaca to Ayia Napamarker. The A9 is currently under construction and would connect Nicosia to the Troodos mountainsmarker.

There are many taxi companies in Nicosia. Besides the taxi companies, there is a taxi rank at the Eleftheria square(City Center), where you can find taxis twenty-four hours a day. Taxi fares are regulated by law and taxi drivers are obliged to use a taximeter.

Public transport within the city is limited to a bus network operated by the subsidised Nicosia Bus Company. Currently plans are underway to expand and modernise this with a European Union grant. There is no train or metro system.

Between 1905 and 1951, Nicosia was a prominent station of the Cyprus Government Railway.



Famous Nicosians


File:monastiri_nicosia.jpg|The interior of Kykkos Monastery Kykkos Monastery (Metochion Kykkou), NicosiaFile:monastiri_kipoi.jpg|The gardens of Kykkos Monastery (Metochion Kykkou), NicosiaFile:municipal_theatre.jpg|Municipal Theatre during ChristmasFile:Makariou_avenue_nicosia.jpg|National Bank of Greecemarker Building, Makariou Avenue, NicosiaFile:archbishobic_palace.jpg|Archbishop's Palace, NicosiaFile:eleftheria_square.jpg|Eleftheria square, NicosiaFile:traditional_house_nicosia.jpg|Typical Traditional Architecture, NicosiaFile:traditional_door_nicosia.jpg|Detail of a Traditional Door, NicosiaFile:eklisia_palia_poli.jpg|Church in the Old CityFile:Nicosia Ledra street border.jpg|Quiet moment at the Ledra Streetmarker crossing.File:al_fresco_laiki.jpg|Dining al fresco in the so-called Folkloric Area of Nicosia (Laiki Yeitonia)File:Famagusta Gate.jpg|Famagusta Gate (Pyli Ammochostou)

See also


External links

  • Echoes Across the Divide (2008) is a documentary film about an attempt to bridge the Green Line with a bicommunal music project performed from the rooftops of Old Nicosia

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