Nicosia (/ˌnɪkəˈsiːə/ NIK-ə-SEE-ə; Greek: Λευκωσία, translit. Lefkosia [lefkoˈsi.a]; Turkish: Lefkoşa [lefˈkoʃa]) is the largest city on the island of Cyprus. It is located near the centre of the Mesaoria plain, on the banks of the River Pedieos.
Nicosia is the capital and seat of government of Cyprus, and as such is the farthest southeast of all EU member states' capitals. It has been continuously inhabited for over 4,500 years and has been the capital of Cyprus since the 10th century. The Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities of Nicosia segregated into the south and north of the city respectively in 1963, following the crisis from 1955–64 that broke out in the city. This division became a militarized border between the Republic of Cyprus and Northern Cyprus after Turkey invaded the island of Cyprus in 1974, occupying the north of the island, including northern Nicosia. Today North Nicosia is the capital of Northern Cyprus, a state recognized only by Turkey, that is considered to be occupied Cypriot territory by the international community.
Apart from its legislative and administrative functions, Nicosia has established itself as the island's financial capital and its main international business centre. In 2018, Nicosia was the 32nd richest city in the world in relative purchasing power.
On his way to the Holy Land during the Third Crusade in 1187, Richard I of England's fleet was plagued by storms. He himself stopped first at Crete and then at Rhodes. Three ships continued on, one of which was carrying Joan of England, Queen of Sicily and Berengaria of Navarre, Richard's bride-to-be. Two of the ships were wrecked off Cyprus, but the ship bearing Joan and Berengaria made it safely to Limassol. Joan refused to come ashore, fearing she would be captured and held hostage by Isaac Komnenos of Cyprus, who hated all Franks. Her ship sat at anchor for a full week before Richard finally arrived on 8 May. Outraged at the treatment of his sister and his future bride, Richard invaded.
Richard laid siege to Nicosia, finally met and defeated Isaac Komnenos at Tremetousia and became ruler of the island, but sold it to the Knights Templar.
The Frankish rule of Cyprus started from 1192 and lasted until 1489. During this time, Nicosia was the capital of the medieval Kingdom of Cyprus, the seat of Lusignan kings, the Latin Church and the Frankish administration of the island. During the Frankish rule, the walls of the city were built along with many other palaces and buildings, including the gothic St. Sophia Cathedral. The tombs of the Lusignan kings can be found there. The exonym Nicosia appeared with the arrival of the Lusignans. The French-speaking Crusaders either could not, or did not care to, pronounce the name Lefkosia, and tended to say "Nicosie" translated into Italian and then internationally known as "Nicosia".
On 15 July 1974, there was an attempted coup d'état led by the Greek military junta to unite the island with Greece. The coup ousted president Makarios III and replaced him with pro-enosis nationalist Nikos Sampson.
On 20 July 1974, the coup d'état precipitated the invasion of the island by the Turkish army. The operation included two phases. The second phase of the Turkish invasion was performed on 14 August 1974, where the Turkish army advanced their positions, eventually capturing a total of 37% of Cypriot territory including the northern part of Nicosia. The fighting left the island with a massive refugee problem on both sides.
On 13 February 1975 the Turkish Cypriot community declared the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus in the area occupied by Turkish forces. On 15 November 1983, Turkish Cypriots proclaimed their independence as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
On 23 April 2003, the Ledra Palace crossing was opened through the Green Line, the first time that crossing was allowed since 1974. This was followed by the opening of Ayios Dometios/Metehan crossing point on 9 May 2003. On 3 April 2008, the Ledra Street crossing was also reopened.
From 30 October 2016 onwards, Nicosia became the only capital city in the world to have two time zones, after the parliament of the de facto Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus abolished standard time and decided that Northern Cyprus remains at UTC+03:00 year-round, following Turkey's example. The following year, due to criticism from the Turkish Cypriot public in the north, the Turkish Cypriot government decided to go back to standard time, following the rest of Europe.
The Nicosia Water Board supplies water to the following municipalities: Nicosia, Strovolos, Aglandjia, Engomi, Ay. Dometios, Latsia, Geri and Tseri. The board consists of three persons nominated by the Council of each municipality, plus three members appointed by the government, who are usually the District Officer of Nicosia District, who chairs the Board, the Accountant General and the Director of the Water Department. The board also supply Anthoupolis and Ergates, for whom the government provide representatives. Thus the board is in the majority controlled by the municipalities of Greater Nicosia in providing this vital local government service.
The Nicosia Sewerage Board, is likewise majority controlled by the municipalities of Greater Nicosia. It is chaired ex officio by the Mayor of Nicosia and consists of members chosen by the municipalities of Nicosia (6 members), Strovolos (5 members), Aglandjia (2 members), Lakatamia (2 members), Ay. Dometios (2 members), Engomi (2 members), Latsia (1 member). The sewage treatment plant is at Mia Milia. The Nicosia Sewerage System serves a population of approximately 140,000 and an area of 20 km2 (8 sq mi). Approximately 30% of the influent is contributed by the Turkish Cypriot Side.
Public transport is not controlled by the local authorities, but comes under the Nicosia District administration, which is an arm of the Ministry of the Interior. Transport services (primarily bus and taxi) are provided by an agency of the Nicosia District (OSEL) or private companies.
Nicosia is linked with other major cities in Cyprus via a modern motorway network. The A1 connects Nicosia with Limassol in the south with the A6 going from Limassol onto Paphos. The A2 links Nicosia with the south eastern city of Larnaca with the A3 going from Larnaca to Ayia Napa. The A9 connects Nicosia to the west Nicosia district villages and the Troodos mountains. The capital is also linked to the 2 international airports: Larnaca International Airport and Paphos International Airport.
Public transport within the city is currently served by a new and reliable bus service. Bus services in Nicosia are run by OSEL. In the northern part, the company of LETTAŞ provides this service. Many taxi companies operate in Nicosia. Fares are regulated by law and taxi drivers are obliged to use a taximeter.
Lefkosia | Cyprus