Venetian walls encircle the old city having a circumference of 4,5 km and possesses eleven heart-shaped bastions. There are only three gates in the North, South and East. Famagusta gate is one of them. The gate was built in 1567 by Venetians, as a part of the new city walls and was originally called the Porta Giuliani after its designer Giulio Savorgnano who designed the Venetian walls. It was restored by the Ottomans in 1821 and a lookout was added to the gate for a probable Greek revolt. During the early Ottoman period, only Ottomans were allowed to pass through the gate on horseback, while Christians and foreigners were obliged to walk. The gate was locked at sunset and reopened at sunrise and remained closed on Fridays, the Muslim holy day, to allow the guards time to pray. During British Colonial times the spacious rooms of the gate served as a warehouse for fuel and other materials. Even though a gradual process of preservation was carried out from 1934 to 1981, humidity problems prevailed, and the Gate fell into disuse.
In 1980, the Nicosia Municipality decided to restore the gate and re-use it as a cultural centre. The entrance floor was covered with a cement bed and the area in front of the gate was covered with cobblestones. The internal walls and the roof were cleaned and then insulated. Air conditioning and ventilation systems were installed under floor. The rooms were provided with general lighting and special lighting for the exhibits. The passageway and two side rooms can operate as a whole, or as three individual areas. Restoration was completed in 1981, and since then the Vaulted passage and two side rooms are used for exhibitions, conference, lectures and various performances, with passages leading to the moat. One of the most typical quarters of the town close to Famagusta Gate is also being rehabilitated.
Address: Leoforos Athinon | Nicosia Town
Tel: +357 22 79 7650
Located on the slopes of Kionia, in the valley of Machairas mountains, Machairas Monastery is one of the most famous on the island and houses the miraculous icon of Panagia (the Virgin Mary) of Machairas, which is attributed to Agios Loukas (Apostle Luke) the Evangelist.
According to legend, an unknown hermit sneaked the icon into Cyprus during the iconoclasm years (between the 8th and 9th century AD) and kept it in his cave until his death around 1145. Blessed with the divine grace, the hermits Ignatios and Neophytos, discovered the cave – which was obscured by bushes - and were able to reach it by cutting down the undergrowth with a knife given to them by divine hand. As a result, the revealed icon was given the name ‘Machairiotissa’ from the Greek word for ‘knife’ – ‘machairi’. The monastery was built on the same spot, also taking the name.
Today, the renovated vestry basement consists of the monks’ original cells, stables and storage areas, and houses a collection of old books and manuscripts, icons and other religious artefacts.
The brotherhood at the monastery is extremely devout, keeping vows as strict as those of Mount Athos in Greece.
Telephone: +357- 22359334 (the phone is always an answering machine where people leave voicemail).
It celebrates the 21st of November (Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary).
Accreditation: The Holy Basilica and Stauropegic Panagia Machairas
Facilities: The Monastery is accessible to people in wheelchairs. They use phone cameras and cameras. There is a toilet, which is not accessible for people in wheelchairs at the moment. Parking is available as well as a shop – showroom of the monastery where visitors have the opportunity to buy religious books and other religious items and products produced by the Monastery. Also available commemorative books for Monastery for sale from 4 to 7 euros, which is in Greek, English, Russian and German. In area where there is the statue of Afxentiou, a museum is dedicated to the memory of the hero of EOKA, where the management responsibility of the Council of Historical Memory of EOKA Struggle. In the church there is a special form for the history of the Monastery which is given free of charge and is in Greek language. Guided tours only visiting groups after timely telephone consultation with the Monastery.
Traditional Pedestrian Quarter of Nicosia, Laiki geitonia is the most wonderful and charming site of the old city. Traditional houses, shops, restaurants and galleries, have all been restored showing the Cypriot architecture of a more graceful age.
Location: East of Plateia Eleutherias
Faneromeni Church dominates the centre of the square and was built in 1872 on the site of an ancient Orthodox nunnery.
The Marble Mausoleum on the eastern side of Faneromeni Church is situated on the front of the building and was built in memory of four clerics executed by the Ottoman governor in 1821, following the Cypriot revolt due to the newly declared Greek war of Independence. The square is surrounded by several neoclassical buildings featuring predominantly Greek, as well as, local Cypriot architectural influences. These include the Faneromeni Library.
Today, the square is a meeting point for the anarchist movement of Cyprus, anti-authoritarians, libertarians, many artists and musicians, a stronghold of the antifascist movement but above all an alternate touch, right in the heart of the Island's capital.
Address: Onasagorou street.
The new Archibishopic, the seat of Cyprus Orthodox Church, was built in 1960 in a neo-byzantine style. The Old Archibishopic was built in 1730 and stands alongside it. Its ground floor houses the Ethnographic Museum of Cyprus.
Address: Nicosia Town
Telephone: +357 222554600
Tamasos was one of the most important city kingdoms of Cyprus, even though the exact date of its establishment and its founder are not known.
Located on the left bank of the river Pediaios, in the area where the villages of Politiko, Pera and Episkopio are found today, the large archaeological site has unearthed the temple of Aphrodite, two majestic royal tombs, as well as several smaller ones.
Part of the city’s fortifications and copper-processing installations can also be seen at the site, whilst excavations have also brought to light copper workshops associated with Aphrodite – Astarte, and six oversized limestone statues dating back to the 6th century BC, when Cyprus was under Egyptian rule. The latter are now exhibited in the Cyprus Archaeological Museum in Lefkosia.
The Cult of Aphrodite flourished at the site, as indicated by the altar made of rough limestone, as well as various votive vessels, incense burners and lamps that have been unearthed.
The sanctuary and the altar are thought to have been built during the Cypro - Archaic II period (600 - 475 BC), destroyed at the beginning of the 5th century, and again in the 4th century BC, only to have been rebuilt during the Hellenistic period. Terracotta and stone statuettes of pigeons (the bird sacred to Aphrodite) have also been uncovered.
Location:Politiko Village, 21km southwest of Lefkosia
The church of Agios Varnavas and Ilarionas (Saint Barnabas and Hilarion) is built on the west bank of Serrahis’ tributary river, Peristeronas, of the homonymous village. Along with the church of Agia Paraskevi of Geroskipou, they constitute the only five-domed churches of Cyprus. The church of Agios Varnavas and Ilarionas, is dated to the end of the 11th - beginning of the 12th century. It is quite possible that it replaced an earlier church, which probably belonged to the type of the three-aisled, barrel-vaulted basilica. In 1959, during the course of restricted excavation work in the church’s interior, a semi-circular synthronon was found within the apse, along with the base of a templon screen. Part of the original church’s north wall still survives, incorporated in the western part of the wall of the existing church.
The church belongs to the type of the three-aisled, barrel-vaulted basilica. The narthex is a later addition with contemporary repairs. The church’s belfry was built in the 19th century. The oldest wall-painting samples belong to the 15th and 16th century. The 16th century altar-doors of the iconostasis also survive. The plaster fragments of the templon screen belonging to the church’s first architectural phase, dated to the Middle Byzantine period, are on display in the narthex.
Opening and closing times are subject to alterations without notice. Visitors are advised to check before visiting.
Tip: You can relax, unwind and drink your coffee in the Cafe which is located just beside the Church.
The church of Panagia Phorbiotissa, better known as Panagia of Asinou, is situated in the north foothills of the Troodos mountain range. It is built on the east bank of a stream, three kilometers south of the village of Nikitari. In 1985 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range.
Panagia Forbiotissa used to be the katholicon (monastery church) of the Monastery of Forbion, as its name implies. According to the dedicatory inscription above its south entrance, which is dated to 1105/6, the church was built with the donation of Magistros Nikephoros Ischyrios, who subsequently became a monk with the name Nikolaos. The monastery was founded in 1099 and it functioned until the end of the 18th century, when it was abandoned.
The church consists of two parts: the vaulted single-aisled nave and the narthex, which is a later addition belonging to the second half of the 12th century. The narthex with its two semi-circular apses belongs to a type directly influenced by Constantinople. Already from the 12th century a steep-pitched timber roof, covered with flat tiles, sheltered the church. Today no traces of the rest of the monastic buildings survive.
The interior of Panagia Forbiotissa is entirely covered with wall-paintings, which vary in date. The earliest group is dated to 1105/6 and it expresses the (then) latest style of the Comnenian period. These frescoes reflect the art of Constantinople, which is thought to be the artist's birthplace, and they are one of the most important groups of Byzantine art of this period. The strong influence of the Empire's capital can be explained by the fact that the prevailing geopolitical conditions of the time led Alexios Comnenos I (1081-1118) to render Cyprus his most important military base of the south-eastern Mediterranean.
Many of the original wall-paintings, dated to 1105/6, are preserved in the apse of the Holy Bema and the west wall of the church, which must have often suffered great damages especially from earthquakes. During the 14th century, for instance, the conch of the apse collapsed and was soon after rebuilt and redecorated. At the same time the external buttresses were added and a little later, the flying buttress at the eastern end of the north wall was built.
NiMAC [Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre, Associated with the Pierides Foundation] is housed in the renovated building of the Old Powerhouse, located in the historical centre of Nicosia.
NiMAC was inaugurated on 14 January 1994 and it is the oldest and largest Contemporary Art Centre of the island. Its architectural restoration and conversion into a beautiful art and cultural space was awarded the Europa Nostra Award in 1994. During its twenty plus years of its operation, the Nicosia Arts Centre has organized and presented more than eighty exhibitions of modern and contemporary art with the participation of well-known artists from Cyprus and abroad.
Many of these were organized in collaboration with museums, art centres and cultural institutions of Europe and other countries.
Offices: Monday-Friday: 8:00-15:00
NiMAC: Tuesday-Saturday: 10:00-21:00, Sunday and Monday closed
The Archaeological Museum of Lefkosia consists of fourteen rooms surrounding a square central area and is comprised of offices, a library, storerooms and areas for preserving and studying items in the collection. The objects in the rooms follow a chronological and a thematical succession. On the right side of Room I a series of objects (tools, stone vessels and figurines) is presented, which constitute the earliest evidence of human presence on the island during the Neolithic period. The following two rooms contain pottery. Room II is dedicated to the rich collection of pottery of the Early Bronze Age while in Room III reference is made to the evolution of pottery from the Middle Bronze Age to the Roman period. In Room IV hundreds of clay figurines and statues are displayed that were found around a circular altar in the Archaic sanctuary at Agia Irini. The evolution of the strong Egyptian and Assyrian influences of the statuary from the Classical period is on display in Room V.
The later phase of Cypriot statuary, dated to the Hellenistic and Roman periods, is exhibited in Room VI where we find mainly marble and bronze statues. In the centre of the room, the bronze statue of the Roman emperor, Septimius Severus constitutes the main exhibited work of art. Room VII is divided into three sections. The first one is dedicated to the rich collection of bronze objects which reflect the wide use of this material, for which Cyprus was famous in antiquity. In the central section of the room specimens from the museum’s rich collection of seals and coins are on display, which represent all the mints of the Cypriot kingdoms as well as the mint during the Ptolemaic rule on the island.The last section of the room contains gold jewellery, silver vessels, glass objects and lamps dating from the Early Bronze Age to early Christian times. Room VIII, which is on a lower level under the stairs leading to the metallurgy room, has been specially modified to receive a reconstruction of tombs dating from the 4th millennium to the 4th century B.C. Room IX contains grave monuments such as carved grave stele, painted clay sarcophagi and limestone sarcophagi decorated with carvings.
Opposite, in Room X, we find a retrospection of the evolution of writing in Cyprus. Room XI is on the first floor and hosts magnificent finds from the royal tombs of Salamis, such as the bed decorated with pieces of ivory and coloured glass, the two thrones and a bronze cauldron supported on an iron tripod and decorated around the edges with four busts of sirens and eight griffins. Room XII is dedicated to ancient metallurgy. Through the disposition of the finds, which bear an educational character, we can follow the process of the mining and smelting of copper as well as metalworking.Sculptures that decorated the gymnasium in Salamis during the Roman period are on display in Room XIII, on the ground floor. Finally, the important production of clay figurines dating from the Early Bronze Age until the Roman period is represented in Room XIV following a thematic order.
Source: Department of Antiquities
The exhibits are arranged so that visitors are guided from the present days of Nicosia, the capital of the Republic of Cyprus, through to the Ancient period (3000BC). Every year the museum organises and hosts a number of temporary exhibitions, lectures, educational programmes and other events. The Shop of the Museum is run by the Association of the Friends of the Museum. Their task is to increase the sales of the shop, so that they buy and then donate to the Museum new objects for its collections.
One may buy various souvenirs, copies of antique objects, books and unique gifts for friends. Every school year, since 1989, the museum has organised special educational programmes for school children of all ages. Special workshops and educational programmes for children and adults are also organised during the year. A small library with publications and other material on the history of Nicosia as well as rare and old publications on Cyprus is open for researchers only by appointment.
Address: Ippokratous 17, Laiki Geitonia
Tel: +357 22 661475
Saint John's Cathedral in Lefkosia (Nicosia) within the old city walls is built on the site of the 14th century chapel of the Benedictine Abbey of Agios Ioannis the Evangelist of Bibi. Archbishop Nikiforos rebuilt the monastery chapel from its foundations in 1662. Dedicated to Agios Ioannis the Theologian, it is small, single-aisled and barrel vaulted in the Franco-Byzantine style, with external buttresses and a west portico. In contrast to the deliberately modest exterior that was required by Ottoman rule, the gilded woodwork and bright interior illuminated by crystal chandeliers can take the unsuspecting visitor by surprise. Covered in gold leaf, the woodcarving is in the best tradition of 18th century Cypriot craftsmanship. The four large icons are the work of Cretan master John Kornaris and were painted between 1795 and 1797. The 18th century wall paintings depict scenes from the Bible and the discovery of the tomb of Agios Varnavas near Salamis.
Location: Plateia Arch. Kyprianou | Nicosia Town.
Operating Hours: Monday - Friday: 08:00 - 12:00, 14:00 - 16:00, Saturday: 08:00 - 12:00 (and during Mass)