Nicosia is one of the most interesting capitals in Europe, with rich history and culture. The old town, which is the part of the capital inside the city walls, is one of the most stimulating travel routes in the entire island with a bustling atmosphere and a number of museums, shops, restaurants, and other attractions. In this article, we will talk about 10 must-visit places in the old town.
1. ELEFTHERIA SQUARE
Like almost every capital, Nicosia has an impressive historical main square, Eleftheria (Liberty) square, which forms the intersection of the old city, within the walls, and the capital’s modern districts. Designed by the architect Zaha Hadid, who is famous for her neo-futuristic designs and playful geometric shapes, the square reflects Nicosia’s diversity and abundance of urban styles. Have the most special evening stroll in the square’s astonishing gardens, fountains, and walking/cycling paths, with the imposing, massive fortified Venetian walls in the background.
2. LAIKI GEITONIA
For experiencing Nicosia as it used to be in the 1900s, Laiki Geitonia was preserved for forming a trademark of Cypriot traditional architectural heritage. The Neighbourhood square is paved and you can walk around, buy some local products, or visit one of the nearby cultural spaces, workshops, and galleries. Laiki Geitonia, which has maintained its traditional character, is a unique place to visit and get immersed in its energetic vibe.
3. LEDRA STREET
Ledra street is one of the most important commercial roads of Nicosia. It is a rather narrow road, 1 km long, with many international and local shops and a number of restaurants and coffee shops. It runs parallel to Onasagorou street, which, like Ledra, is a pedestrian only, lively street with shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars. The amalgamation of the traditional with the modern, the old and the new, is most prominent in Onasagorou street, making it an interesting road to wander before choosing one of the many places to devour a meal and/or have a drink.
4. FANEROMENI SQUARE AND CHURCH
If you are looking for a buzzing atmosphere with vibrant energy, then Faneromeni Square and Church is undoubtedly the place for you. Between Onasagorou and Ledra streets, the square is always packed with locals and tourists who look to enjoy a meal, coffee, or dessert in one of the many atmospheric traditional and modern places there.
5. HATZIGEORGAKIS KORNESIOS MANSION
6. ARCHBISHOP’S PALACE
One of Nicosia’s most important religious, national, and political monuments is the Archbishop’s Palace, an 18th century two-storey building with a stunning Neo-Byzantine architectural style. The building accommodates the headquarters of the Church of Cyprus while it is also the residence of the Archbishop of New Justiniana. This majestic building is definitely a must-see, not only because it evokes admiration but also for a tour at the Byzantine Museum, the Library of the Archdiocese, the FolkArt Museum and the National Resistance Museum which are housed there and open for anyone who wishes to visit them.
7. PANCYPRIAN GYMNASIUM
Opposite the Archbishop’s Palace, you will find the Pancyprian Gymnasium, the oldest establishment of secondary education still operating in Cyprus and, simultaneously, a 12-room museum that includes, among others, a museum of the History of the School, an Archaeological and Numismatic Collection, and an Art Gallery. While the school building was destroyed by a fire in 1920, it was largely rebuilt in an attractive neoclassical style, rendering it a not to be missed landmark.
8. ERMOU STREET
A short walking distance from the Archbishop’s Palace, you will find Ermou street. This bustling area is full of hipster, alternative bars, modern and traditional coffee shops, and amazing restaurants. You can spend an entire day there, from having brunch in the morning to finishing the evening with a cocktail or two!
9. AGIOS KASSIANOS CHURCH
Finally, within the walls of Nicosia, the Orthodox Church of Agios Kassianos, built in the 18th century, forms one of the most important ecclesiastical monuments in Nicosia due to its great historical interest and renowned icons and relics, of which some are currently preserved in the Byzantine Museum.
10. VENETIAN WALLS
Nicosia is also famous for its three entrances in old Nicosia, through the Venetian walls, that were designed by the famous military engineer Giolio Savorgnano, in 1567. Famagusta Gate, which was initially called “Porta Gioliana”, opened the road that led to Famagusta, which used to be the most important harbour town. The internal entrance of the gate is still majestic while many cultural events take place there from time to time.
Undeniably, when at the old city centre of Nicosia, which is surrounded by the historic Venetian walls, one has a lot to see, do, and explore. Its fascinating cultural landmarks, interesting architecture, impressive archeological and ecclesiastical monuments, and bustling neighbourhoods establish old Nicosia of the most interesting cities in Europe.