Nicosia (Turkish Cyprus)

Overview

Introduction

Nicosia is also the capital of Turkish Cyprus (the Turks call the city Lefkosa). The Turkish side also has part of the original Venetian city walls intact, but it has a more exotic feel than the Greek side: It's less built up, and the streets are narrower and more winding. It contains several museums as well as the 14th-century Gothic Armenian Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We especially like the Turkish Museum, which focuses on the Islamic sect known as the Whirling Dervishes, who occupied the building in the 17th century. Also worth seeing are the 13th-century Selimiye Mosque (formerly St. Sophia's Cathedral) and the Bedesten, the covered market next to the mosque. For a good example of Ottoman Turkish architecture, look for Buyuk Han (the Great Inn, or caravansary). Also of interest are the Sultan's Library and the Women's Market (Friday is most active). Plan one day.

Note: Tourists must cross over from Greek Nicosia at the Ledra checkpoint. EU citizens do not need a passport to cross from Greek to Turkish Cyprus (an identity card is sufficient). Citizens of non-EU countries do need a passport, however. The border crossing is open between 6 am and midnight, and tourists can stay overnight in Turkish Nicosia. Travelers who arrive on Cyprus on the Turkish side, generally by boat from Turkey, cannot cross the border into Greek Cyprus.

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