I decided to make two trips to Nicosia as there were four museums I wished to visit, as well as have a wander round, and thought it would be too much to do in a day.
The public transport here in Cyprus is excellent, with very regular inter-city buses that are comfortable, clean and very cheap, and it is a great way to see the country. The bus to Nicosia takes about 75 minutes each way and only costs 7 euros for a return.
The first two museums were the ones that I was most excited about so I went to see those on the first visit. I use Google maps, both for planning and navigating when I am there and they were very easy to find. I had a good wander around the area as well exploring and it was interesting to see the extent to which restoration is taking place.
As I mentioned in my last post Nicosia is a divided capital, the border only having re-opened in 2008. For a really good overview of the history of this lovely island, as well as more information about visiting Nicosia, please see this very useful post by Helen on her Holidays, which I used to help plan my trip.
As the city was involved in so much conflict, and is still a military zone, I was expecting to see a lot of damage, and there was evidence of that. During the 1974 conflict 200,000 people were displaced from all over Cyprus. That is a lot of empty houses, and like Larnaca and Famagusta, many have been left empty since then. It was heartening to see that although there are lots of bits that still look like the picture below, there are many that are being restored.
I came across this very interesting street, near the first museum. One end of it was beautifully restored and the other, although the doors were still there and lights strung up, the buildings were just shells with no second floor apart from the external wall. I do hope that they will be able to complete this one day as they are such beautiful buildings.
The first museum was the Folk Art one. This is housed in the old Archbishop’s Palace, right next to the new palace.
The collection is not large but was beautifully displayed in all of the small rooms of the palace, and concentrated on the traditional crafts of woodwork, weaving, lace making, furniture making and embroidery. Although there were no pictures allowed I have found a very good explanation of Cypriot textile crafts on this site here.
I also found some shops selling work in the city, although a lot of what was for sale was mass produced machine embroidery, rather than the traditional Lefkara work from that village.
The new Archbishop’s Palace was very beautiful, and had some fabulous doors. I also saw the official cars, proudly parked in a glass walled garage outside, one of which may be a Rolls Royce?
Next to the palace was another one of the stunning churches, this time with an amazing gold painted ceiling, and the most ornate chairs for the priest to sit on.
The chairs for the congregation are equally lovely, look at those beautiful carved eagles, they were on every single chair.
Although there is not much goldwork in some of the churches, unlike in Spain, there is always beautiful crochet on the tables used for icons or during the services.
The second museum was just behind the church, this is the House of Hatzigeorgakis Kornesios Ethnographic Museum. This is a house, built around a courtyard, which was the home of one of the city officials during the Ottoman Empire. It was built in 1793 and has been beautifully restored.
The first floor is furnished with a stunning painted reception room, amongst other treasures.
I loved the painted chest, clock, and the carved wood that was once throughout the house.
There was also a small costume and textile collection, so I got chance to photograph one of the costumes similar to those that had been in the folk art museum.
This really shows off all of the exceptional Cypriot needlework skills, from the metal embroidery on the velvet jacket, to the lace cuffs and embroidered skirt.
I then had a wander back to the city centre and a quick walk up the famous Ledra Street. As well as some more beautiful old buildings, this is where one of the border crossings are, and it is both interesting and quite bizarre.
I knew the crossing was there, but one minute you are walking past McDonalds and Starbucks and the next there is a little building with blue striped awnings that is a police checkpoint.
Just to the left is a bench with a mosaic Peace sign, which lots of people come to have their photo taken with.
It was a very sombre experience to see the checkpoint, after all that I have read about Cyprus and Nicosia, and is one part of the city I hope will not be around forever.
The city is also famous for still having its Venetian walls, they surround the city centre, and you can see the star points clearly on the map. Many of the spaces below the walls have been turned into parks as the walls themselves are enormous. I found this painting from Wikipedia of what they looked like originally. I love visiting the star forts that are found all over Europe so this was fascinating.
Of course there were also lots and lots of lovely doors, but since I am visiting the city again this week I shall save those treats until next time, as I may being adding to my collection! This is my last week in Larnaca, I am off to Paphos next for the final 10 days of my trip, where there will be even older things to marvel at.
Hope that you are all having a good week, whatever you are doing. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.