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Nicosia (Lefkosa)

The name of the capital city of Northern Cyprus dates back approximately 2,250 years to the original settlement of Ledra, which was later renamed Lefkotheon, but was also sometimes referred to as Ledron.  During the Byzantine period the name changed again to Lefkon, meaning poplar grove. There were a great many poplar trees lining the banks of the Pedeios river, so the name was quite apt.

Since the seventh century A.D., Nicosia has been the capital of Cyprus (except for a brief period during the Venetian period) because the Arab raids made so many coastal settlements unsafe. Nicosia was just far enough inland to escape the worst. The present day capital of the island, it has a population of around 150,000 and it is divided into Turkish and Greek sectors by a boundary known as the `Green Line' which runs in an east-west direction.

In the old city of Nicosia, beautiful examples of Gothic and Ottoman architecture abound - the Selimiye Mosque, the Bedestan, the Arab Ahmet Mosque, and the Great Inn, to name but a few.

The recent years have seen a renewed interest and efforts for the urban regeneration of the old city of Nicosia. EC and UNDP's UNOPS have been instrumental in this drive which has seen many ancient, mediaeval buildings sympathetically restored and renovated. Some of these include: Bedestan, Samanbahce quarter, Bandabuliya (green market), Selimiye quarter.

See all Nicosia Photos.

 

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