Nicosia City

The Turkish invasion of Cyprus, in 1974, followed a coup that was intended to annex the island to Greece. The invasion ended with Turkey occupying much of northern Cyprus and setting up a government that only Turkey recognizes. It is a situation that remains in place today.

Until relatively recently North Cyprus was a no-go area for tourists to the island. The situation has now improved byt the political deadlock remains unresolved. The border between north and south Cyprus now runs right through the heart of Nicosia.

A UN buffer zone, only a few yards wide, separates the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The narrow streets of the old city can end in cement walls, gun emplacements, sandbags and razor wire. There is free mobility across the divide however through border checkpoints. Armed armed guards patrol and these are still the only places you can legally cross.

Nicosia is still a fascinating city. Little visited by tourists, except those crossing to the north, it has an impressive old city encircled by an imposing city wall that is in good repair, in the south at least.

Much quieter than its noisier southern half, North Nicosia city centre offers the visitor a glimpse into the past. Here little has changed since the Turkish invasion, although new estates have sprung up lately on the outskirts.

You can easily see the Old City (and there's not much else you'd want to see) in a single day and that's what most visitors do.

Although there is accommodation to be had you must check at the Ledra Palace crossing to make sure this is OK. North Nicosia is a safe city to walk around night or day.

The people are very welcoming and friendly. To the north are the mountains and the huge twin flags of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus painted into the hillside along with the slogan 'Ne Mutlu Türküm Diyebilene' — 'Happy is he who can call himself a Turk'.


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