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Nicosia

Lefkosia (Nicosia) the island’s capital is the largest city. During the Venetian expansion, Nicosia (Lefkosia) was fortified with imposing stone walls and massive gates. Famagusta Gate, one of the three original entrances into the old city, still stands today, has now been restored and is used as a cultural centre.

Through the Gate lies Laiki Geitonia, an old section which has been lovingly restored. 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.

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.