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Nicosia is the capital of Cyprus, a status it has enjoyed for 1000 years since the 10th century. It is also its largest city situated roughly in the centre of the island, flanked by the beautiful northern range of Kyrenia mountains with its distinctive 'Pentadaktylos' - the five finger mountain.
There are various suggestions as to the origin of the name Nicosia - or 'Lefkosia' In Greek - but the most likely one is linked to the popular tree, the tall 'Lefki ' that once flourished in the city whereas others believe that Nicosia derived its name from Lefkos, son of Ptolemy I of Egypt during the 12th century.
The capital presents two distinct faces: the old, original part of the city, surrounded by sturdy Venetian walls over 400 years old, and a busy modern metropolis which has a population of 171.000 together with the suburbs.
Within the large area encircled by the strong bastion walls that served to protect the town for centuries are many places of great historic interest. Housed within these walls are a number of shops as well as the Cyprus Museum, St John's Cathedral and some Byzantine churches.
Beyond the walls is the new city, which is home to more shops, modern hotels and offices, schools and suburban districts. Nicosia is a cultural city and is host to a cultural centre, an arts centre, and a number of theatres and cinemas.
Nicosia is the only divided capital left in Europe and is separated by the "Green Line" which is the United Nations buffer zone separating Greek and Turkish area's of Cyprus. There is only one crossing point near the Ledra Palace Hotel with the other side.
Places of interest: