Nicosia, or Lefkosia, is the only divided capital city in the world. Not only is there division between Turks and Greeks — the Green Line runs through the middle of the Old City — but there is a split between the old and new.
Where the old has narrow cobbled streets and charming whitewashed alleys, the new is one vast bowl of concrete, much of it poured post-1974. The Nicosia suburbs are new housing estates and industrial plants.
Nicosia is located in the centre of Cyprus in the large, flat Messaoria plain and off the main tourist trail, although easily reached on cheap flights to Cyprus.
This has helped Nicosia avoid the rash excess of tourist development but led to the city 's dismissal as fly-blown and boring.
Not so. It's true it has seen better days and Nicosia can sizzle in the summer, but this is still a lively city, with pleasant tavernas on tree-lined boulevards and an old world charm that is much in evidence around the Old City, enclosed by its 16th century Venetian wall.
South of the Green Line, the wall around Plateia Eleftherias is regarded as the main centre, with several pedestrianised shopping streets and the cobbled back streets of the popular Laiki Yitonia district.
Only a few tourists ever visit the occupied northern half of the city where little has changed since the Turks invaded.
There are old markets, dusty back streets where pedlars ply their wares and authentic hammams that offer public bathing.
The streets of Nicosia are very safe wherever you walk, provided you keep an eye out for traffic.