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Nicosia, the thousand year old capital city in the heart of the country

The island has in its midst a fair city called Nicosia, which is the capital of the kingdom, well walled, with its fine gates, which are three, to wit the gate of Paffo, of Famagusta, and Cirina. That of Famagusta, is the most beautiful, and in my judgment the city of Barcelona has none to match it”~ P. Joan Lopez, 1770. During the Venetian expansion eastward in the 1500’s, Nicosia (Lefkosia) was fortified with imposing stone walls and massive gates. The famous Famagusta Gate still stands today, proudly protecting the still-ancient town within from the modern city without.

Through the Gate lies Laiki Geitonia, an old section which has been lovingly restored. Wend your way through narrow stone streets where crimson flowers cascade from window pots and the aroma of traditional baking wafts through open doorways. Explore jewelry and handicraft shops, dine in charming tavernas, marvel at churches centuries old.

Those engrossed in history and art will make their way directly to the Cyprus Museum, which holds the island’s priceless treasures from the first stirrings of the Neolithic Age through the Roman period. At the Byzantine Museum, encounter a dazzling collection of early-Christian icons from the Mediterranean’s Golden Age. The State Collection of Contemporary Art takes a newer perspective, focusing on Cyprus’ modern artists, some of whom have gained note on the international market.

Come full circle in time and visit the Cyprus Handicraft Center workshops, where traditional arts are practiced today much the same way they were in ages past. Relax and enjoy a splendid Cypriot meal, accented by one of the island’s famous wines.

Later, the night life beckons near Famagusta Gate, giving expression to the Cypriots’ legendary spirit of celebration.


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