Nicosia is the largest city, capital, and seat of government of the island of Cyprus.
It is located near the center of the Mesaoria plain, on the banks of the River Pedieos.
As of October 2019, the population of Nicosia is about 320,000 people.
Nicosia covers a total area of 111 square kilometers (43 square miles).
The city has average elevation of 220 meters (720 feet) above sea level.
It has been continuously inhabited for over 4,500 years
Nicosia came successively under the control of the Byzantines (330–1191), the Lusignan kings (1192–1489), the Venetians (1489–1571), the Turks (1571–1878), and the British (1878–1960), and thus reflects the vicissitudes of Cypriot history and both Eastern and Western influences.
The earliest mention of Nicosia is in the clay prism of the Assyrian king Esarhaddon in 672 BC.
In Byzantine times, the town was also referred to as Lefkosia. It was also known in antiquity as Ledra, is a medieval corruption of the Byzantine name Lefkosia.
In the 4th century AD, the town became the seat of bishopric, with bishop Saint Tryphillius, a student of Saint Spyridon.
The town has been the seat of government of Cyprus since the 10th century.
The city became a Venetian possession in 1489. It was captured by the Ottoman Empire in 1570. During this time, the main Latin churches were converted into mosques, such as the conversion of the Saint Sophia Cathedral.
Nicosia came under the rule of the United Kingdom on 5 July 1878.
The Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities of Nicosia segregated into the south and north of the city respectively in early 1964, following the fighting of the Cyprus crisis of 1963–64 that broke out in the city. This separation became a militarised border between the Republic of Cyprus and Northern Cyprus after Turkey invaded the island of Cyprus in 1974, occupying the north of the island, including northern Nicosia. Today North Nicosia is the capital of Northern Cyprus, a state recognized only by Turkey, that is considered to be occupied Cypriot territory by the international community.
Nicosia is the only divided capital city in the world.
The Cyprus Museum also known as the Cyprus Archaeological Museum is the oldest and largest archaeological museum in Cyprus. The museum houses artefacts discovered during numerous excavations on the island. The museum is home to the most extensive collection of Cypriot antiquities in the world and is located on Museum Street in central Nicosia.
The Venetian Walls are a series of defensive walls which surround Nicosia. The first city walls were built in the Middle Ages, but they were completely rebuilt in the mid-16th century by the Republic of Venice. The walls are still largely intact, and are among the best preserved Renaissance fortifications in the Eastern Mediterranean. They are a major tourist attraction.
The Famagusta Gate is a gate in the Nicosia walls, Cyprus. The gate was built in 1567 by Venetians, as a part of the new city walls and was originally called the Porta Giuliani after its designer. It consists of a vaulted passage through the earthwork rampart of the city with a carefully executed spherical dome, eleven meters in diameter, in its center. The passageway is large enough for two vehicles to pass, and it is lighted by a circular opening in the center of the dome in the style of the Pantheon, Rome.
The Kyrenia Gate is a gate in the Nicosia walls, in North Nicosia, Northern Cyprus. It was the gate which was used for transport to the northern areas, especially Kyrenia. The gate was built in 1567 by Venetians, as a part of the new city walls. It was restored by the Ottomans in 1821, and a lookout was added to the gate for a probable Greek revolt.
The Byzantine Museum in Nicosia within the walls contains the richest and most representative collection of Byzantine art on the island. About 230 icons dating from the 9th to the 19th centuries, as well as other typical examples of the Byzantine art of Cyprus, such as sacred vessels, vestments and books, are on display. The collection includes many icons dating from the 12th century when iconography was at its height. Among the star attractions are the famous 6th century mosaics torn from the church of Kanakaria in the occupied area, sold abroad and later repatriated.
Selimiye Mosque historically known as Cathedral of Saint Sophia, is a former Roman Catholic cathedral converted into a mosque, located in North Nicosia. It is the main mosque of the city. The Selimiye Mosque is housed in the largest and oldest surviving Gothic church in Cyprus (interior dimensions: 66 X 21 m) possibly constructed on the site of an earlier Byzantine church.
Büyük Han or English: Great Inn, is the largest caravansarai on the island of Cyprus and is considered to be one of the finest buildings on the island. Located in the capital of Cyprus, it was built by the Ottomans in 1572, the year after they had seized Cyprus from the Venetians. In the center of the open courtyard is a mosque with a fountain for pre-prayer ablutions. It became the first city prison under British administration. After spending most of the 1990s being restored, the inn has been revived as a thriving arts center, consisting of several galleries and workshops. There are also several courtyard cafes and souvenir shops.
Nicosia is the southeasternmost of all EU member states’ capitals.
Nicosia has many shops, restaurants and entertainment. The city is a trade center. It manufactures textiles, leather, pottery, plastic, and other items.
The city is the archiepiscopal seat of the autocephalous (having the right to elect its own archbishop and bishops) Church of Cyprus.
Just west of Nicosia is the Mesaoria region, scattered with tiny villages and ancient monasteries.