Nicosia,Cyprus-Dione youth organisation

Archaeological Museum of Lefkosia

1. Place The Archaeological Museum of Lefkosia consists of fourteen rooms surrounding a square central area and is comprised of offices, a library, storerooms and areas for preserving and studying items in the collection. The objects in the rooms follow a chronological and a thematical succession. On the right side of Room I a series of objects (tools, stone vessels and figurines) is presented, which constitute the earliest evidence of human presence on the island during the Neolithic period. The left side of the room is dedicated to the Chalcolithic period when stone vessels coexist with handmade clay vessels as well as with figurines made out of picrolite. In the first exhibition case, in the middle of the room, clay objects are on display, which constitute the first evidence of worship.Sculptures that decorated the gymnasium in Salamis during the Roman period are on display in Room XIII, on the ground floor. The sculptures are accompanied by photographs of the excavations of the gymnasium, which took place before 1974. Finally, the important production of clay figurines dating from the Early Bronze Age until the Roman period is represented in Room XIV following a thematic order. The following two rooms contain pottery. Room II is dedicated to the rich collection of pottery of the Early Bronze Age while in Room III reference is made to the evolution of pottery from the Middle Bronze Age to the Roman period. The exhibited objects demonstrate the rich local ceramic tradition of Cyprus but at the same time special reference is made to the imported Mycenaean, Phoenician and Attic pottery as well as to faience objects, which played a vital role in the establishment of the local pottery style.The imported Mycenaean craters and the locally produced Archaic vessels of the “free-field” style are given a prominent position. In Room IV hundreds of clay figurines and statues are displayed that were found around a circular altar in the Archaic sanctuary at Agia Irini. The evolution of the strong Egyptian and Assyrian influences of the statuary from the Classical period is on display in Room V. The Archaic statues, carved in the local limestone, gradually gave their place to works with Greek influences, carved into the imported marble. The later phase of Cypriot statuary, dated to the Hellenistic and Roman periods, is exhibited in Room VI where we find mainly marble and bronze statues. In the centre of the room, the bronze statue of Septimius Severus constitutes the main exhibited work of art. Room VII is divided into three sections. The first one is dedicated to the rich collection of bronze objects which reflect the wide use of this material, for which Cyprus was famous in antiquity, so much so in everyday activities (agricultural tools) as in warfare activities (weapons), commercial exchange goods (tripods) and ritual practices (Horned God from Egkomi). In the central section of the room specimens from the museum’s rich collection of seals and coins are on display, which represent all the mints of the Cypriot kingdoms as well as the mint during the Ptolemaic rule on the island. On the wall behind the coins two boards are hung containing parts of floor mosaics from two roman buildings. The last section of the room contains gold jewellery, silver vessels, glass objects and lamps dating from the Early Bronze Age to early Christian times. Room VIII, which is on a lower level under the stairs leading to the metallurgy room, has been specially modified to receive a reconstruction of tombs dating from the 4th millennium to the 4th century B.C. To the right of Room VIII, is Room IX, which contains grave monuments such as carved grave stele, painted clay sarcophagi and limestone sarcophagi decorated with carvings. Opposite, in Room X, we find a retrospection of the evolution of writing in Cyprus. Starting from the earliest evidence of writing is the Cypro-minoan script followed by specimens of the Cypro-syllabic script, and finally the predomination of the alphabetic script. Room XI is on the first floor and hosts magnificent finds from the royal tombs of Salamis, such as the bed decorated with pieces of ivory and coloured glass, the two thrones and a bronze cauldron supported on an iron tripod and decorated around the edges with four busts of sirens and eight griffins. Room XII is the Cyprus Museum’s Temporary Exhibition Hall.

Gate Pafos (Paphos)

Pafos (Paphos) Gate was one of the three entrances into old Lefkosia (Nicosia) through the Venetian walls that completely encircled the old city, and were designed by famous engineer Giulio Savorgnano in 1567. The road beginning immediately outside the gate led southwest to the town of Pafos, hence the gate’s name. It was also known as ‘Gate of San Domenico’ as it replaced an earlier gate of the Frankish walls called ‘Porta di San Domenico’, named after the nearby abbey of San Domenico. The gate is a simple affair; an opening in the wall, roofed by a barrel vault. During British occupation in 1878, part of the walls between the gate and the Roccas Bastion was demolished to create a new opening. Pafos Gate Police Station is just above the original gate.


Church of Panagia Faneromeni

Church of Panagia Faneromeni is located in the historic part of the old town of Nicosia and more specifically in the center of Faneromeni Square. It is one of the oldest churches on the island and it is the biggest church within the Venitian Walls of the city. It is thought to have been constructed in 1222 as part of a Cistercian monastery for women. In 1561 the island was conquered by the Ottoman army and just like many other churches, the Turks attempted to turn Panagia Faneromeni into a mosque. But for some reason all of the assigned imams kept dying and the invaders gave up their efforts and left the church alone. In 1715 the church had to be completely rebuilt due to the damage it suffered during a 17th century huge earthquake. The new church was named after an icon of the Virgin that was discovered among the ruins of the old church (“faneromeni” means “appearance” in Greek language). The current look of the church dates back to 1872. This three-aisled dome basilica has cross-shaped vaults and a distinct Latin influence over some of its architectural elements (e.g. its water drains are decorated with human-headed animal figures). The chapel was added in 1938. The interior of the church is decorated with frescoes created by a Cypriot artist named Ioannis Kissonergis in 1929. The dome features frescoes that depict God the Father (Ancient of Days) with a triangular halo around his head (a symbol of the Triune God). The ancient three-tiered iconostasis was built in 1659 and includes 61 icons. The main icon of the Virgin Faneromeni used to be part of the Veneration Tier. Right now you can see its copy, while the original is housed at the Byzantine Museum in Nicosia. It is a Hodegetria icon that is also considered to be miracle working. It dates back to a period between the 12th and the 14th centuries. You can make out the images of six hymnographers and their pleas for a rain in Cyprus depicted on the frame of the icon. Every year the ancient icon is brought back to the church for a litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The church is also decorated with a carved bishop’s throne, created by master Papadopulos and a high pulpit built by a carver named Taliozoros. Images of the evangelists shown on the pulpit were created by Diamantis – the same artist, who created the replica of the icon of the Virgin Faneromeni. Another noteworthy object in the church is the large silver-framed Cross, which contains a piece of the True Cross and depicts scenes from the life of Jesus. In the yard of the church to the east of the church there is a marble mausoleum contains the relics of the bishops and priests executed by the Ottomans in 1821. Faneromeni School and Faneromeni Library are also located in the yard of the historic church.

The Omeriye Mosque

The Omeriye Mosque is located near the main Municipal Market within the walled city of Lefkosia (Nicosia). The discovery of a number of tombs of Augustinian hermits indicates Omeriye Mosque was originally a church of the Order of the Augustinians dedicated to St Mary. It was once the medieval Augustinian monastery of St. Marie, built in the 14th century, and one of the three largest monasteries in the city during the Lusignan era. It originally covered an area of six acres, which included gardens, orchards, a field of wheat and barley, and a sugar plantation. The door of the main entrance belongs to the original 14th century building. This consists of a nave (41×11 metres) and was initially covered with cross vaults. The church would have initially been about 15 metres high, making it the most imposing building of medieval Lefkosia after Agia Sofia. The architecture of the building is generally simple, with heavy exterior facades and buttresses. The vaulted entrance preserves appreciable sculptural decoration. Remains of a later, Renaissance addition to the building can be seen on the northeast. The roof and superstructure, roughly to the height of the windows, was destroyed by Ottoman cannonades during the siege of Lefkosia (Nicosia) in 1570. In 1571, the monastery was converted to a mosque by Lala Mustafa Pasha – the Ottoman conqueror of the island – who believed that the original church was built on the spot where the Caliph Omer rested when visiting Nicosia . Most of the original building was destroyed by Turkish artillery in 1570, and inscribed tombstones from the Lusignan period were used to install a new floor for the mosque. It was the first mosque of Nicosia and nowadays it is the biggest mosque of the areas under the control of the recognized Republic of Cyprus.

Archbishop's Palace of Cyprus

Archbishop’s Palace is the official residence and office of the archbishop of Cyprus located in Nicosia. The palace was built next to the “Old Archbishop’s Palace”(built in the 17th century), between 1956 and 1960; in neo-Byzantine architectural style. Its general plans were designed by George Nomikos in Athens, while Nicholas S. Roussos and John Pericleous from Limassol were responsible for all other architectural work. The bronze sculpture of Makarios III, the first president of Cyprus, was on its grounds but has now been moved the monastery of Kykkos. It was sculpted by Nikolas Kotziamannis, weighs around 13 tons and is approximately 30 feet tall. Although the Archbishop’s Palace is not open to the public; the Byzantine Museum, Library of the Archbishopric, Folk Art Museum and the National Struggle Museum located on its grounds are open to the public. Cathedral of St. John the Theologian The Cathedral of St. John the Theologian is the main church of the Church of Cyprus. It is located in Nicosia, the capital city of Cyprus next to the Archbishop Palace. The church was built in the XIV century at the site of Benedictines’ Abbey of St. John the Theologian that had been founded by the House of Lusignan. First reference about the church appears in historical sources starting from the XI century. Due to frequent Mamluk invasions Benedictines left the island in 1426, and the monastery was passed over to the Orthodox. However, the monastery retained its dedication to St. John the Theologian. Archbishop Nikiphoros reconstructed the church in the XVII century. He used part of remained basement for the reconstruction. Marble slab was installed above the western entrance to the church. The slab has a date, the 30th of April 1662, indicating when reconstruction of the church was started. Although the precise date of the end of reconstruction is unclear but it is assumed that reconstruction was finished between 1662 and 1674. After the reconstruction, the church became the residence of Cyprus Archbishop in 1720. The enthronements of Archbishops of Cyprus are held there. The church is small, single-aisled and barrel vaulted, in the Franco-Byzantine style, with external buttresses and a west portico. In contrast to the deliberately modest exterior that was required by Ottoman rule, the gilded woodwork and bright interior illuminated by crystal chandeliers is particularly ornate. Covered in gold leaf, the woodcarving is in the best tradition of 18th century Cypriot craftsmanship, and it remains the only church in Nicosia in which the whole of the internal Frescoes have survived in their entirety.The four large icons on the iconostasis were painted by the Cretan master, Ioannis Kornaros in 1795 and 1797, and the 18th century wall paintings depict scenes from the Bible and the discovery of the tomb of Agios Varnavas (St. Barnabas) at Salamis.


Famagusta Gate (Pyli Ammochostou)

Famagusta Gate (Pyli Ammochostou) is the largest of the three entrances into old Lefkosia through the Venetian walls that completely encircled the old city, and were designed by famous engineer Giulio Savorgnano in 1567. Originally known as ‘Porta Giuliana’ – the eastern gate of the walls – it was later renamed ‘Famagusta Gate’ as the gate opened onto the road that led to the most important harbour town of the island at the time, that of Famagusta. Famagusta Gate has since been restored and the Nicosia Municipal Multicultural Centre now operates within the large vaulted passage and its two adjacent rooms. The internal entrance is very impressive, whilst the external one opens onto the moat that surrounds the walls.

The first walls surrounding Lefkosia (Nicosia)

The first walls surrounding Lefkosia (Nicosia) in the 14th century were built by the Franks and enclosed a much larger area than the 16th Venetian Walls that still surround the old town. When the Venetians occupied Cyprus, they decided to demolish the Frankish Walls because they were old and did not offer adequate defence against new weapons such as artillery. The Frankish Walls were also too big to be manned by the Venetian army and too close to the hills in the east and southeast of the city. Forming a circle, the walls built by the Venetians were fortified by eleven heart – shaped bastions and protected by an 80 metres wide moat. They were built of mud – brick, with the lower part only buttressed by stone. When the Ottomans occupied Lefkosia (Nicosia), they repaired the walls and covered the upper part with stones. The city eventually began to experience a revival in the mid-19th century. It was still confined within the walls when the British occupied Cyprus in 1878. An opening was made near Paphos Gate in 1879 to facilitate access to the surrounding area. Further openings were made within the walls during the 20th century. The moat around the walls now has many different uses, serving as sports fields, public gardens, an open – air sculpture exhibition, car parks etc. The Venetian walls of Nicosia have a circular shape, with a circumference of c. 5 km. The walls contain eleven pentagonal bastions with rounded orillons, similar to the bastions of Palmanova. The bastions are named after eleven families, pillars of the Italian aristocracy of the town, who donated funds towards the construction of the walls. The eleven bastions are: Caraffa Bastion Podocattaro Bastion Constanza Bastion D’Avila Bastion Tripoli Bastion Roccas Bastion Mula Bastion Quirini Bastion Barbaro Bastion Loredan Bastion Flatro Bastion Caraffa to Tripoli Bastions lie within the southern half of the city, in the Republic of Cyprus. Roccas to Loredan Bastions lie in the Turkish-occupied north, while Flatro Bastion lies in the UN Buffer Zone The city has three gates: Paphos Gate (Porta San Domenico) Famagusta Gate (Porta Guiliana) Kyrenia Gate (Porta del Proveditore) Experts have considered the walls to be a prime example of 16th century military architecture. Their design incorporates specific innovative techniques, marking the beginning of a renaissance era in fortification construction. These include the positioning of gates to the side of the adjoining bastions, so they could be more easily protected in times of siege, and leaving the upper half of the wall unlined with masonry, to increase its ability to absorb the impact from cannon shot. Despite this, the fortifications had several shortcomings, mainly since they were still incomplete when they were captured by the Ottomans. The bastions have no piazza-bassa or cavaliers, and the curtain walls are quite low when compared to other contemporary city walls such as the fortifications of Heraklion and the fortifications of Valletta. The fortifications also lacked outworks.