Could you ever imagine a European capital being still separated? Can you imagine an avenue being interrupted by barricades, barbed wires, sandbags, fortifications guarded by soldiers and signs informing you that you cannot walk further? And can you imagine life evolving along the separation line with picturesque cafés –among other businesses- set literally along it? It’s all about the part of the Green Line crossing Old Nicosia, where you feel that reality and imagination are not that different. Where life goes on.
Not a lot of travelers know that the Green Line was initially established in 1964 but extended by the UN following the Turkish invasion, in August 1974. More than 50 years after the initial establishment of the Green Line, this part of the Old City has risen again. Before the 2013 financial crisis, this side was quite abandoned. But after the sudden economic collapse, lots of (neo)traditional cafés opened along the line (‘’kafenio’’ in Greek), signposting a return to the origins of Greek Cypriot every-day life and culture. Some of these cafés use as natural decoration the signs of war, thus, symbolizing the continuation of creativity and –why not- the need to cultivate a positive spirit which could lead the island to a viable solution. Join us to our intriguing walking journey to the Green Line Cafés.
Setting the basis for dialogue at The Home Café, Home For Cooperation
Life in Cyprus was always based on the coexistence of different ethnicities and communities and that’s the main idea The Home for Cooperation persistently works on. This community centre is located only 14’ on foot from Ledras Street, within the Buffer Zone, on the west side of Nicosia’s Venetian walls. You will see it on your right, passing by the historic Ledra Palace, once the largest and most glamorous hotel of the capital and currently a major venue of negotiations on the Cyprus Dispute. Home For Cooperation promotes the collective efforts of civil society in their engagement with peacebuilding and intercultural dialogue. And no intercultural dialogue can be maintained without a cup of coffee! That’s why –we suppose- The Home for Cooperation created the Home Cafe, an ideal space to sit, read or study, have a meeting, make an event or even host a gig. The café offers a selection of hot and cold drinks, as well as delicious homemade snacks and cakes. What’s important for coffee lovers is that the coffee is organically grown and fairly traded, 100% Arabica coffee beans and available for sale at the café. Don’t be surprised if you see around the Cypriot President or any other European President or Prime Minister who visits the Republic of Cyprus. It’s a popular space among political leaders and diplomats. The café has a library with a large selection of books covering subjects of the island. If you arrive there later than coffee time, the Home Cafe offers freshly made food, every day, including lunch from 12.30 to 15.30, fresh salads and sandwiches. Sit or grab something and follow us to the next stop.
28, Marcou Dracou St., 1102
Meet grandma’s sweets at Giagia Victoria café and confectionery
While walking along the Green Line from The Home Cafe and Marcou Dracou Street, surprises are waiting for you at every corner. From the ruined Spitfire Kafenio, opposite Paphos Gate, now filled with sandbags, to the large evacuated street and houses with sealed doors for the last 44 years next to the Holy Cross Catholic Church. You will see the Green Line varying from some meters to entire neighbourhoods, crossing walkways, rooms, yards, buildings with holes of bullets. Walk towards Ledras Street, always along the line and, next to the barricades of the pedestrian zone, you will see one of the most impressive sceneries of the old city: an old beutiful building with chairs and tables scattered in front of it, servers rushing with trays full of coffees and sweets and as a background, sandbags, double barrels and barbed wire defining the Line. Look above and beyond the barrels and you will see the half of the café -which was a bookstore -now ‘’belonging’’ to the no man’s land. That’s the place where the team of Giagia Victoria (‘’grandma’’ in Greek) decided to create their sweet miracles. With an obvious impact from Thessaloniki, Greece recipes (their sign clarifies it), they can prove that life does not only go on but it can be sweet too, even within the most extreme contradictions. Try their unique ‘’mpougatsa’’ (pie with sweet white cream) paired with a Cypriot coffee. It’s magic and there is a lot more. Just get in and have a look at their freshly baked pastries and sweets. You will not easily take your eyes away.
80-82, Dimitri Liperti St., 1011, Old Nicosia
Experience creativity at Haratsi Café
Ledras Street with all those people coming and going does not let you feel lonely, even while being seated opposite the no man’s land. Now, follow us in the most inspiring part of the Green Line. Keep on walking along the line towards Famagusta Gate. Eventually you will enter the most creative part of Old Nicosia. Workshops, craftworks, minimalistic galleries, art shops, garages, cultural centres, the old municipal market, museums, they all create a unique atmosphere and you will not resist the temptation to stick your face on the large windows’ glass to discover what’s hidden behind. Human activity is mixed with the inactiveness of the past, life meets history in a very optimistic way, despite the continuous reminders of conflict. Immerse yourself into this unique side of the old city and then, turning at that ancient corner, you’ll unexpectedly see it: a renovated old kafenio which opened in mid 30s, tables and chairs set outside, in front of one more barrel barricade covered with a cubist graffiti, stencil slogans and posters and customers enjoying their coffee, tea or beverage. Welcome to Haratsi, where intellect meets flavours and where inspiration meets the actual Cyprus situation. Stavros, the owner of the traditional café, a writer himself, created a unique space which travels you back in an unspecified past. Inside, you can dive into nostalgia with the 80’s flipper (it works!), discover books, examine vintage posters and sit around long low tables which seem to invite everyone to come together. Outside, a group of friends (it doesn’t matter if you know nobody-you’ll soon get to) enjoying a great silent spot of their city and chatting about everything. Book bazaars and handmade jewellery exhibitions take place from time to time. Ask for iced ‘’soumada’’ (almond drink) or if you want an aperitif check the café’s ‘’Brandy Sour’’, a typical Cypriot alcoholic mix and listen to the low voice story of Haratsi.
30, Ledenes St., 1016, Old Nicosia