A brick in the wall part one
Nicosia Travel Blog› entry 13 of 20 › view all entries
I start the day super early - ok maybe it is not super early but the streets of town is pretty empty given it is January first and nobody else will be out and about until noonish. I start on some sort of walking tours around the city. The city is pretty small and completely surrounded by a huge wall built by the Venetian to prevent the Ottomans from conquering the city like they had been conquering so much else around the
The wall around the city is very impressive looking and it looks like a formidable obstacle to pass.
I head down to one of the big mosques in the southern side of the town - it is still in use by the small Turkish Cypriot minority living in the southern part of town. The mosque probably also serve the Arab who might have moved to
After this I get to the Archbishops palace and it is huge - actually it is bigger than the tiny building the Danish queen calls her home in
I walk on and get my first of several dead end experiences on my small walking tour.
Well I turn back from the dead end no photo road and walk towards the Venetian Walls which encircle the entire old city. I start walking along the wall for a while following the wall more or less half the way around the city. It is indeed a very nice little sight very well preserved and it has remain an integral part of the city till this day - unlike the fortifications surrounding so many other ancient cities which were taken down as the city expanded beyond the old barrier of the old walls. When I get closer to the western side of the city I start to meet several people who are dressed in what appears to be Indian clothing and they also look sort of Asian - but then again Cyprus is on the cross road of three continents so just what exactly do a Cypriot look like? I get to the western end of the city and there is a catholic church.
The Catholic Church is sort of interesting - not so much the church itself which is kind of an ordinary church. But the placement of the church is a constant reminder of the situation of the city. The church is right at the Green Line dividing the city - the backside of the church is actually in the UN controlled no man’s land between the two sides of Cyprus. The church were only allowed to keep working as a church under the condition the back door of the church would remain locked at all times and never under any circumstances be opened.
Just next to the church is one of the three main gates into the old city - the Pafos gate. This gate were the first place where the British expanded the entrances to the old city to allow easier access for the traffic in and out of the old city - hence the gate is not really all that well preserved anymore. Next to the Pafos gate is one of the 11 bastions around the wall. At this bastion is the place in all of
I walk on toward the Ledra Palace Hotel border crossing. It was the first border crossing which were open in the Lefkosia area. Walking down to the crossing you go through a partly deserted area with lots of closed shops empty houses and buildings which are sealed off by the UN forces in the area. Down right at the border are several giant posters put up by the Greeks commemorating the martyrs of Derynia. That is a couple of people who were shot and killed by the Turkish troops while they tried to lower a Turkish flag near Derynia in 1996. There are also signs demanding a reunification of
The crossing of the border is really simple. On the Greek side you only have to flash your posh EU passport around and they will let you through on the Turkish side you need to fill out a page of paper with your name and passport number and the Turkish immigration will stamp that piece of paper instead of your passport. The entry is good for 90 days not that I am going to stay for more than a day for now.
After I have crossed the border I walk up to the bastion which is shared by Turks on the top and Greeks at the bottom - apparently this bastion used to be an important place to go visit because until 2003 this was the only place where you could actually see people from the other side more or less face to face - in all the rest of Cyprus the UN Buffer zone would be much wider which would prevent people from actually seeing each other.
I walk on in the Turkish side of Lefkosia it is remarkably well marked with lots of plaques telling you where the different attractions are placed around the city. It is actually interesting with the maps of the city - in the south you will not get a map of the attractions of the northern part if you go to the tourist information or find any public map in the city - they will all just refer to the northern part of the city as the illegally occupied territory. In the North you will find lots of information about attractions of the south - it is like the north wants reunification while the south don’t really want reunification unless it will be absolutely unconditional on terms set solely by the Greek Republic of Cyprus without any guaranties for the Turkish minority.
I walk around the north for a while many of the biggest attractions within the wall will be found in the north.
There are a couple of churches still in the northern section of the city though they have not been in much use since the separation of the city in 1974. Hence some of them have fallen into disrepair and one is currently undergoing lots of renovations hence you can neither see the church nor visit it.
In the middle of the city is one big building which is occupied by the old Han which was the place where traders came to Lefkosia in the Ottoman days to sell their goods on the big square at the centre of the building. The four sides surrounding the big square were used as accommodation for the travelling sales men so they did not have to stay far away from their merchandise. There is no business taking place on the square today but in the old rooms for accommodation there are a lot of different enterprises taking care of the tourist coming today to see this old market.
I wonder off down to see the last gate of the city the Girne gate or Kyrenia gate depending if you want the Turkish or Greek name for the gate and the city it will lead you to eventually. It is a nice gate but this one has also been cut away from the old wall to let cars into the old city from the northern road. It’s actually getting a bit late by now - earlier in the day I had been annoyed the museums were all closed because of the national holiday for New Years day but in the end I spend the entire day just wondering around the old city looking at the old buildings and the wall.