To get the most out of your venture through one of Europe’s most intriguing capitals, being the last divided city in the world that dates back to the Bronze Age, you should take a walk in its old town and discover this true gem of an old city. The old city centre, surrounded by Venetian Walls dating from 1567, is full of art, culture and architecture, with museums, galleries, shops, bars and restaurants nestled in narrow alleys. The city’s historic past unfolds into a unique labyrinth of old churches and medieval buildings.
One of Nicosia’s most popular areas is Ledra Street. This cobbled area is a high street full of tradition with shops, local cafés and bars. Most of the buildings here still carry their 18th century charm. Parallel to the bustling Ledra Street, runs Onasagorou Street, offering a more authentic experience of the city. Don’t miss the “People of Cyprus” street art on Pythonos Street, off Onasogarou. The street leads to Phaneromeni Church Square; perch for coffee here. At Laiki Geitonia, you’ll get your souvenirs and free maps from the tourist office. You’ll find numerous old ladies selling their embroidery here. At Ermou Street, you’ll walk over Nicosia’s old river (it used to be a river during Venetian rule). You’ll find numerous craftsmen here, working in small work spaces. While here, visit the Centre of Visual Arts & Research, a platform to explore the cultural heritage of Cyprus through art, books and photographs. The view from its roof garden, especially during sunset is mesmerising- you can see the tiled roofs, mosques and monuments of old Nicosia. Chrysaliniotissa area, centred around the Panayia Chrysaliniotissa Church is also worth the visit. It’s a picturesque neighbourhood worth the stroll if only to admire the colourful flower pots outside houses and the 20th century Cypriot urban architecture. Spot the construction year of each building on their façade and smell the jasmine.
Immerse yourself in the rich history of the island and visit the old Archbishop’s Palace (1 Archibishop Kyprianou Square) that hosts the Byzantine Museum and the Archbishopric’s Library. Close by, you can find the Museum of Folk Art and the Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios Mansion (20 Patriarchou Grigoriou) that operates as an Ethonological Museum. The Leventis Municipal Museum (15-17 Ippokratous Street, Laiki Geitonia, 22661475), has a permanent exhibition recording the history of the capital from 3900 BC. The Museum of the History of Cypriot Coinage (86-90 Phaneromenis, 22128157) found in the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation offers a presentation of more than 500 coins, divided in nine chronological periods tracing Cyprus’ tumultuous history, from the first coins minted on the island in the 6th century BC to the present day. Visit the ebost2.sg-host.com/museums website to find out more about all the museums in the city.
Nicosia is bursting at the seams with great contemporary art galleries and innovative exhibition spaces. Based in a space located at a nodal point between the old city of Nicosia and its declining modern commercial centre, Point Centre for Contemporary Art is a non-profit organisation involved in the creative support and promotion of various fields of contemporary cultural production, including the arts, architecture, film, music and sound, performance, discourse and thought. Thkio Ppalies in Pallouriotissa (close by to the old city) is a project space based in Nicosia founded by photographer Stelios Kallinikou and Peter Eramian. As a creative hub, Thkio Ppalies aspires to build and evolve active networks between artists, art spaces and organisations, both within Cyprus and internationally. Many visual arts projects and exhibitions take place here. is not gallery is an artist-run space that celebrates fine and applied arts, and promotes new and innovative works of young Cypriot and European artists, located in old Nicosia. It promotes “du jour” tendencies in art, such as the alternating art market through the thematic group exhibitions Cheap Art and A.I.P. (Artists in Print). NiMAC (Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre, Associated with the Pierides Foundation) is the oldest and largest Contemporary Art Centre of the island, inaugurated 1994. The Centre has organised more than 80 exhibitions of modern and contemporary art with the participation of well-known artists from Cyprus and abroad. ΓΚΑΡΑΖ – Garage Art Space was founded in 2016 in a 1950s building renovated to a modern multicultural art space on Ammochostou street in old Nicosia. It aims to host art and theatre projects by young artists.
Churches in the old town carry a huge historical and architectural precedence and are worth the visit. Head to Trypiotis Church that dates back to 1695, Faneromeni Church, the Cross of Missirikos – an old Byzantine church with gothic Italian elements that was converted into Araplar Mosque in 1571. Also noteworthy is the Armenian Church and Monastery (Notre Dame de Tyre) that was originally a nunnery during the 13th century. This particular church has architectural elements from the 14th century. At the Omerie Area you will find the notable landmarks Omerie Mosque and the Baths. The only part of the Mosque that belongs to the original 14th century building, the building was originally the Augustinian Church of St Mary, is the door of the main entrance. If you want to enter, you must take off your shoes.