Nicosia, also known as Lefkosia, is the divided capital city of Cyprus. South of the border, on the Greek side, the Cyprus Museum has archaeological finds from the Neolithic to Byzantine periods, including the Aphrodite of Soloi statue.
Nicosia has incorporated elements of the many empires and kingdoms that have claimed it over centuries stretching back to the Bronze Age. Narrow winding streets lead visitors from the Cyprus Museum, with its collection of Neolithic and Roman artefacts, to the thick city wall. Built-in the 1600s by the Venetians, the wall now divides the ancient part of the city from the modern. Step through the stone gates and enter a place where the past is still alive.
Ledra Street is in the middle of the walled city. The street has historically been the busiest shopping street of the capital and adjacent streets lead to the most lively part of the old city with narrow streets, boutiques, bars and art-cafés. The street today is a historic monument on its own. It is about 1 km (0.6 mi) long and connects the south and north parts of the old city.
To the east of Ledra Street, Faneromeni Square was the centre of Nicosia before 1974. It hosts a number of historical buildings and monuments including Faneromeni Church, Faneromeni School, Faneromeni Library and the Marble Mausoleum. Faneromeni Church is a church built in 1872 in the stead of another church located at the same site, constructed with the remains of La Cava castle and a convent. There rest the archbishop and the other bishops who were executed by the Ottomans in the Saray Square during the 1821 revolt. The Palace of the Archbishop can be found at Archbishop Kyprianos Square. Although it seems very old, it is 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. The square leads to Onasagorou Street, another busy shopping street in the historical centre.
The walls surrounding the old city have three gates. In The Kyrenia Gate which was responsible to the transport to the north, and especially Kyrenia, the Famagusta Gate which was responsible for the transport from Famagusta, Larnaca and Limassol and Karpasia, and the Paphos Gate for transport to the west and especially Paphos. All three gates are well-preserved.
The historical centre is clearly present inside the walls, but the modern city has grown beyond. Presently, the main square of the city is Eleftheria (Freedom) Square, with the city hall, the post office and the library. The square which is currently under renovation connects the old city with the new city where one can find the main shopping streets such as the prestigious Stasikratous Street, Themistokli Dervi Avenue and Makarios Avenue.
Nicosia is also known for its fine museums. The Archbishop’s Palace contains a Byzantine museum containing 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, 18th century) and the Handicrafts Centre.