Eleftheria square (Greek: Πλατεία Ελευθερίας/Turkish: Eleftheria Meydanı, Özgürlük Meydanı), is the main square in central Nicosia, Cyprus. It forms the intersection of Ledra and Onasagorou streets with Stasinou, Omirou, Kostaki Pantelidi, Konstandinou Palaiologou and Evagorou avenues. Prior to 1974 the centre of city was considered to be Faneromeni Square.
The name translates as Freedom square. Previously the square was called Metaxas square, in reference to the Greek statesman Ioannis Metaxas. It was renamed in 1974, following a competition held at the suggestion of the then Mayor of Nicosia.
It is located in the centre of the town below the Venetian walls of the medieval city. Nicosia town hall, located on D’Avila bastion, overlooks the square whilst Ledra Street leads onto its northern side.
The square is usually the focus of various profile activities in the capital. Examples include advertising promotions, political rallies and meetings such as the first meeting of the Occupy Buffer Zone movement on October 15, 2011, and sporting events. Celebrations such as Cyprus's accession to the European Union were also centered around the square. As presently the square is not pedestrianised, when major events take place vehicles are redirected.
Eleftheria square was not part of the original construction of the Venetian walls. It first took the form of a bridge constructed during the British occupation of Cyprus at the end of the 19th Century. As the city expanded out of the medieval walls wooden bridges were constructed to facilitate transport. The original wooden bridge known as the Hajisavvas Opening (erected in 1882) was then replaced with a solid concrete one, which survives to date.
In 2005 an architectural competition was announced to redesign the square. This was won by a group led by Zaha Hadid. The proposed plans however, have been heavily criticised by some local designers. In 2009 the initial excavation works revealed archaeological findings that have forced alterations to the original design. As of February 2012, the square has been closed to all traffic following the beginning of the construction of the new square. It is expected to re-open in a year when the first phase is completed.
Nicosia Town Hall and Venetian walls
First meeting of the Occupy Buffer Zone movement in Eleftheria Square, 15 of October, 2011.
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