The Lefkosia (Nicosia) region combines a great, diverse cultural wealth with the contemporary everyday life.
At the centre lies the capital, a place that smoothly merges the modern business centre with the historic culture. The only divided capital of the world, steeped in history and culture with a beautiful old city surrounded by massive Venetian walls, and a museum with wonderful collection of artefacts spanning the ages.
Mosques and palm trees give an oriental atmosphere to the old city. Wander round narrow streets with overhanging balconies and the beautifully restored pedestrian precinct with craft shops, cafes and tavernas. Make sure you stop off at St John’s cathedral with its frescoes and the marvellous museum of Byzantine icons. In the evening catch a concert in the moat or an exhibition at the Famagusta Gate, one of the three original entrances into the old city, which has now been restored and is used as a cultural centre.
The new town spreads beyond the walls with a modern Europeanised centre of high-rise buildings, office blocks, shops and pavement cafes, expanding into suburban residential areas.
Of the city’s main sights, the Cyprus Museum houses the best collection of archaeological artefacts on the island, including a first century AD Roman statuette of Aphrodite of Soli and the original mosaic of Leda and the Swan, while the Leventis museum depicts the history of the town.
In the countryside you’ll find olive groves and orchards leading up into the pine forest of the Machairas mountains, on the peak of which, set in a scenic valley with a superb view over the plains, sits a centuries old monastery.
Along the way lies Tamassos, a rich city-kingdom in antiquity, built near important copper mines for which Cyprus was famous, while to the east lies ancient Idalion, another city kingdom, currently under excavation near the modern village of Dali.
Picturesque villages abound, with their cobbled streets and preserved stone and adobe houses, offering a glimpse of rural life in Cyprus. Worth visiting is the village of Fikardou, which has been declared a national monument and was awarded the Europa Nostra award in 1987.