Tuesday, July 19, 2016

N is for Nicosia

Even four years later, I can still picture the white spring blossoms that decorated the worn cobblestone streets and smell the fragrant citrus trees we passed when we visited Nicosia in North Cyprus.

Nicosia (Lefkoşa in Turkish) is one of the few world’s divided cities with half of it belonging in Greek-ruled Cyprus and the northern half governed by the Turkish Municipality. You must pass through a passport checkpoint to cross from one side to the other. Cyprus has acomplicated history. It was part of the British Empire as a military occupation from 1914-1925, and a Crown colony from 1925-1960. Cyprus became an independent nation in 1960, but then were arguments between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots resulting in the current divided country. 

Even before the most recent turmoil, Cyprus’ history is embedded in complications. The country became a Roman province in 58 BC, was ruled jointly by both the Arabs and the Byzantines, became a target of the Christian crusades in the 12th century and was dominated by the Genoese merchants in the 14th century until the Ottoman siege and takeover in the 1500s.

Because of the island’s complex history, you’ll find remains of different architectures such as the Gothic Cathedral of Saint Sophia which became the Selimiye Mosque in 1570 when the Ottomans conquered the land. During the 50-day Ottoman siege of Nicosia, the cathedral provided refuge for a great number of people.
The cathedral-turned-mosque still looks a bit like a church to me, except for the minarets on the outside and the Islamic features of a mihrab (prayer niche) and the minbar (pulpit) inside. The building was constructed in the 13th century by the Latin Church of Cyprus, in a Gothic style resembling French cathedrals. The church-mosque’s Roman-era columns indicate the possible presence of a Byzantine church before its construction. I found it interesting to walk through the largest and oldest surviving Gothic church in Cyprus and admire the different architecture.

Thanks to our lovely Turkish-Cypriot friends we were able to explore and learn more about the divided city of Nicosia. I’d love to return someday and see more of the island!

I’m linking this post to the monthly travel guide link up organized by Fiona, a fellow Australian blogger, at Tiffin Bite Sized Food Adventures. Each month features a new letter of the alphabet. July is the letter “N.” Please pop on over to Fiona’s blog to read more travel stories or feel free to link up your own!
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Tiffin Fiona said...

This is a great contribution. We have also visited Nicosia as part a holiday to Turkey. It's a place I never thought about visiting because it's so far from Australia but of course, plenty of package tours from the UK. Thanks for the memories!

Sherry m said...

How annoying it must be to travel from one side to the other with your passport. Do the locals have to I wonder?

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