North Nicosia

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For other Nicosia, see Nicosia (disambiguation).
North Nicosia
Turkish: Kuzey Lefkoşa
From upper left: The historical part of North Nicosia, the Büyük Han, high-rises in Bedrettin Demirel Avenue (the building on the right is the tallest building in North Nicosia), a view from the entertainment center of Mehmet Akif Avenue, Atatürk Square at the heart of the old city, North Nicosia city hall, Selimiye Mosque
From upper left: The historical part of North Nicosia, the Büyük Han, high-rises in Bedrettin Demirel Avenue (the building on the right is the tallest building in North Nicosia), a view from the entertainment center of Mehmet Akif Avenue, Atatürk Square at the heart of the old city, North Nicosia city hall, Selimiye Mosque
Official seal of North Nicosia
North Nicosia is located in Cyprus
North Nicosia
North Nicosia
Location in Cyprus
Coordinates: 35°10′37″N 33°21′48″E / 35.177011°N 33.36324°E / 35.177011; 33.36324Coordinates: 35°10′37″N 33°21′48″E / 35.177011°N 33.36324°E / 35.177011; 33.36324
Status Recognised by the international community as part of the Republic of Cyprus. Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus's claim is only recognised by Turkey.
Administered by Northern Cyprus
Cypriot District Nicosia
North Cypriot District Lefkoşa
 • Mayor Mehmet Harmancı (TDP)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 61,378
(district: 94,824)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Website Nicosia Turkish Municipality

North Nicosia or Northern Nicosia (Turkish: Kuzey Lefkoşa; Greek: Λευκωσία) is the capital and largest city of the de facto state of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognised by only Turkey, and is widely considered by the international community and United Nations as occupied territory of the Republic of Cyprus. It is the northern half of the city of Nicosia and is governed by the Nicosia Turkish Municipality. Located on the River Pedieos and located almost at the center of the island, it is the host for the seat of the government as well as the main business center.

Following the intercommunal violence of the 1960s, the capital of Republic of Cyprus was divided between the island's Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities in the south and north respectively in 1963.[2][3] An attempted coup by the Greek military-junta to unite the island with Greece in 1974 led to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, and the international community considers North Nicosia to be under Turkish occupation since then.

According to the 2006 census, 49,868 people live in North Nicosia.[4] It is important commercially with many shops, two modern shopping malls, restaurants and entertainment. The city is a trade centre and manufactures textiles, leather, pottery, plastic, and other products. North Nicosia is the seat of two Turkish Cypriot Universities.



Nicosia has been in continuous habitation since the beginning of the Bronze Age 2500 years BC, when the first inhabitants settled in the fertile plain of Mesaoria.[5] Nicosia later became a city-state known as Ledra or Ledrae, one of the twelve kingdoms of ancient Cyprus built by Achaeans after the end of the Trojan War.[citation needed] Remains of old Ledra today can be found in the Ayia Paraskevi hill in the south east of the city. We only know about one king of Ledra, Onasagoras. The kingdom of Ledra was destroyed early. Under Assyrian rule of Cyprus, Onasagoras, was recorded as paying tribute to Esarhaddon of Assyria in 672 BC. Rebuilt by Lefkonas, son of Ptolemy I around 300 BC, Ledra is described as a small and unimportant town, also known as Lefkotheon. The main activity of the town inhabitants was farming. During this era, Ledra did not have the huge growth that the other Cypriot coastal towns had, which was primarily based on trade.[6]

Roman and Byzantine times[edit]

In Byzantine times the town was also referred to as Lefkousia and also as Kallinikisis. In the 4th century AD, the town became the seat of bishopship, with bishop Saint Tryphillius (Trifillios), a student of Saint Spyridon.[7]

After the destruction of Salamis by Arab raids in 647, the existing capital of Cyprus,[citation needed] Nicosia became the capital of the island around 965, when Cyprus rejoined the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines moved the islands administration seat to Nicosia, primarily for security reasons as coastal towns were often suffering from raids. Since then it remains as the capital of Cyprus. Nicosia had acquired a castle and was the seat of the Byzantine governor of Cyprus. The last Byzantine governor of the Island was Isaac Comnenus who declared himself emperor of the island and ruled the island from 1183–1191.[8]

Medieval times[edit]

Map of Nicosia in Cyprus, created in 1597

On his way to the Holy Land during the Third Crusade in 1187, Richard I of England fleet was plagued by storms. He himself stopped first at Crete and then at Rhodes. Three ships continued on, one of which was carrying Queen Joan 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 Comnenus, 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.[9]

Richard laid siege to Nicosia. Richard finally met and defeated Isaac Comnenus at Tremetousia. Richard became ruler of the island but sold the island to the Knights Templar. The Knights Templar ruled the island having bought it from Richard the Lionheart for 100.000 gold byzantiums. Their seat was the castle of Nicosia. On Easter day on 11 April 1192 the people of Nicosia revolted and drove the Knights Templar off the city. Having driven the Knights Templar away, fearing their return the Nicosians demolished the castle of the city almost to its foundations.[10]

Guy of Lusignan, King of Jerusalem, bought Cyprus from the Knights Templar and brought many noble men and other adventurers, from France, Jerusalem, Tripoli, the Principality of Antioch and Kingdom of Armenia, to the island. Guy shared the land he had bought among them and Nicosia became capital off their kingdom. He imposed harsh feudal system and the vast majority of Cypriots were reduced to the status of serfs.[11] 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 Saint Sofia Cathedral. The tombs of the Lusignan kings can be found there. The first Lusignan castle was built during the reign of King Henry I, 1211. On seals of the king and his mother Alix in 1234, a castle with one or two towers is depicted surrounded with the inscription "CIVITAS NICOSIE".[12] 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".[citation needed]

In 1374 Nicosia was occupied and ravaged by the Genoans and in 1426 from the Mamelukes of Egypt.[citation needed]

In 1489, when Cyprus was came under Venetian rule, Nicosia became their administrative center and the seat of the Venetian Governor. The Venetian Governors saw it as a necessity for all the cities of Cyprus to be fortified due to the Ottoman threat.[13] In 1567 Venetians built the new fortifications of Nicosia, which are well-preserved until today, demolishing the old walls built by the Franks as well as other important buildings of the Frankish era including the King's Palace, other private palaces and churches and monasteries of both Orthodox and Latin Christians.[14] The new walls took the shape of a star with eleven bastions. The design of the bastion is more suitable for artillery and a better control for the defenders. The walls have three gates, to the North Kyrenia Gate, to the west Paphos Gate and to the east Famagusta Gate.[14] The river Pedieos used to flow through the Venetian walled city. In 1567 it was later diverted outside onto the newly built moat for strategic reasons, due to the expected Ottoman attack.[15]

Ottoman and British administration[edit]

Hoisting the British flag in Nicosia.

On 1 July st 1570 the Ottomans invaded the island. On 22 July, Piale Pasha having captured Paphos, Limassol and Larnaca marched his army towards Nicosia and laid siege to the city.[16] The city managed to last 40 days under siege until its fall on 9 September 1570. Some 20,000 residents died during the sige and every church, public building, and palace was looted.[17] After its siege it was reported that the walls that were ruined, Nicosia retained very few inhabitants. The main Latin churches were converted into mosques, such as the conversion of Saint Sofia Cathedral into the Selimiye Mosque. From 1570 when the Ottomans took over Nicosia, the old river bed through the walled city was left open and was used as a dumping ground for refuse, where rainwater would rush through clearing it temporarily.[15]

Nicosia was the seat of the Pasha, the Greek Archbishop, the Dragoman and the Qadi. When the newly settled Turkish population arrived they generally lived in the north of the old riverbed. Greek Cypriots remained concentrated in the south, where the Archbishopric of the Orthodox Church was built. Other ethnic minority groups such as the Armenians and Latins came to be settled near the western entry into the city at Paphos Gate.[18]

On 5 July 1878 the administration of the island was officially transferred to Great Britain. On 31 July 1878, Garnet Wolseley, the first High Commissioner, arrived in Nicosia. He immediately established a skeletal administration by sending officers to each district to supervise the administration of justice and obtain all possible information about the area. Garnet Wolseley immediately established a Post Office at his camp at Kykko Metochi monastery outside Nicosia. Garnet Wolseley lived at ‘Monastery Camp' until a prefabricated residence had been built for him near Strovolos on the site of today's Republic of Cyprus Presidential Palace.[19]

At the time of British administration, Nicosia was still contained entirely within its Venetian walls. Although full of private gardens and amply supplied with water carried to public fountains in aqueducts, the streets remained unpaved and just wide enough for a loaded pack animal. In 1881, macadamized roads through the town were completed to connect with the main roads to the coastal towns but no roads were asphalted until after World War I. A series of openings in the Venetian walls provided direct access to areas beyond the walls. The first opening was cut in the Paphos Gate in 1879. The Limassol or Hadjisavva opening, now Eleftheria Square linked the city to the government offices in 1882. In June of that year, the municipal limits were extended to "a circle drawn at a distance of five hundred yards beyond the salient angles of the bastions of the fortifications. An opening was made at the Kyrenia Gate in 1931 after one of Nicosia's first buses proved too high to go through the original gate. Many more openings followed. During the post-war period the villages around Nicosia began to expand. By 1958 they had been engulfed in suburbia. Only Strovolos and Aglandja maintained separate physical identities, chiefly because of intervening state-owned land. By this time, the old city was increasingly given over to shops and workshops."[20]

In 1955 an armed struggle against the British rule began aiming to unite the island with Greece under the banner of enosis ("unification"). The struggle was led by EOKA, a Greek Cypriot nationalist military resistance organisation,[21][22] and supported by the majority of Greek Cypriots. The unification with Greece failed and instead the independence of Cyprus was declared in 1960. During the period of the struggle, Nicosia was the scene of violent protests against the British rule.[citation needed]

Independence and division[edit]

The Nicosia border crossing between Northern Cyprus and the Republic of Cyprus, shot from the North Nicosia side, July 2012.
High-rises in North Nicosia. On the left, a building used for business purposes. On the right, the Merit Hotel, which is the tallest building in North Nicosia.[23] The two buildings are located on the Bedrettin Demirel Avenue.

In 1960 Nicosia became the capital of the Republic of Cyprus, a state established by the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. In 1963, the Greek Cypriot side proposed amendments to the constitution, which were rejected by the Turkish Cypriot community.[24] During the aftermath of this crisis, on 21 December 1963, intercommunal violence broke out between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Nicosia was divided into Greek and Turkish Cypriot quarters with the Green Line, named after the colour of the pen used by the United Nations officer to draw the line on a map of the city.[25] This resulted in the ceasing of Turkish Cypriot participation in the government, and following more intercommunal violence in 1964, a number of Turkish Cypriots moved to the Turkish quarter of Nicosia, causing serious overcrowding.[26]

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.[27]

On 20 July 1974, the Turkish army invaded the island, fearing that the coup would result in Enosis, union with Greece.[28] The invasion was given the codename Operation Attila and 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 and the cities of Kyrenia and Famagusta. The fighting left the island with a massive refugee problem. Out of a population of 600,000, an estimated 200,000 Greek-Cypriots had been displaced and fled south of the Attila line. At the same time, an estimated 60,000 Turkish-Cypriots remained south of the Attila line, uncertain of their fate.[29]

On 13 February 1975 the Turkish Cypriot community declared the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus in the area occupied by Turkish forces.[30] 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.[31] This was followed by the opening of Ayios Dometios/Metehan crossing point on 9 May 2003.[32] On 3 April 2008, the Ledra Street crossing was also reopened.[33]


As the capital of the republic, North Nicosia is North Cyprus's political, economic and cultural center. North Nicosia hosts the headquarters of the ministries of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The city is governed by Nicosia Turkish Municipality, which is recognized by the constitution of the Republic of Cyprus.[34]

The Municipality of North Nicosia is now headed by the Mayor, who is Cemal Bulutoğulları.

The Mayor and the Councillors exercise all the powers vested in them by the Municipal Corporation Law. Sub-committees consisting of members of the Municipal Council act only on an advisory level and according to the procedures and regulations issued by the Council.

Mayors of North Nicosia[edit]

Post-Independence (1959 – present) (All Turks)[edit]


Nicosia lies roughly at the center of the island, with a history that can be traced back to the Bronze Age. It became capital of the island in the 11th century AD. The Lousignians turned it into a magnificent city with a Royal Palace and over fifty churches. Today, it blends its historic past brilliantly with the bustle of a modern city. The heart of the city, enclosed by 16th-century Venetian walls, is dotted with museums, ancient churches and medieval buildings preserving the nostalgic atmosphere of years past. Yet this old heart is split in two, leaving Nicosia the only capital city in the world to remain divided by force.

Although the city has been destroyed more than once by conquerors, there are still enough vestiges to enjoy the past. History is most strikingly experienced at the Venetian city wall, which was built between 1567 and 1570 by Giulio Savorgnano. The 4.5 metres thick wall has three gates, but only the Kyrenia Gate is in North Nicosia. The Nicosia Walls served as the prototype for the Palmanova walls built afterwards by the Venetians. The historic heart of the city is clearly found inside the walls, but the modern city has grown beyond. The heart of the city is Atatürk Square, while the centre of entertainment is Mehmet Akif Avenue (Dereboyu).[35]


Ercan International Airport has been used for international flights. There is no train or metro system nor plans to develop one. But between 1905 and 1951, Nicosia was a prominent station of the Cyprus Government Railway.

The company of LETTAŞ provides bus services in North Nicosia.[36] There is a bus terminal in the region of Yenişehir.[37]


In northern Nicosia there are many primary, secondary and high schools, also English is the obligatory language, high schools are divided into 2 sections, first one is giving English education and the other one is giving Turkish education to students, there are four universities in northern Nicosia,

Notable people[edit]

International relations[edit]

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

North Nicosia is twinned with:


See also[edit]


  1. ^ KKTC 2011 Nüfus ve Konut Sayımı [TRNC 2011 Population and Housing Census], TRNC State Planning Organization, 6 August 2013, p. 16 
  2. ^ "Cyprus". 1967-11-20. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  3. ^ indley, Dan. Promoting peace with information: transparency as a tool of security regimes (2007) Princeton University Press, p.87
  4. ^ 2006 Census of the TRNC State Planning Organization - Table 2
  5. ^ "Nicosia Municipality". Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  6. ^ "Nicosia Municipality". Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  7. ^ "Saint Tryphillius". Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  8. ^ "Nicosia Municipality". Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  9. ^ "The Crusades - home page". Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  10. ^ "Nicosia Municipality". Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  11. ^ "Nicosia Municipality". Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  12. ^ "Nicosia Municipality". Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  13. ^ "Nicosia Municipality". Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  14. ^ a b "Nicosia Municipality". Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  15. ^ a b "Nicosia" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  16. ^ "Nicosia Municipality". Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  17. ^ "Cyprus - Historical Setting - Ottoman Rule". 2010-06-17. Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  18. ^ "Nicosia". Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  19. ^ "Nicosia Municipality". Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  20. ^ "Nicosia Municipality". Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  21. ^ "EOKA (Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston)". Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  22. ^ "War and Politics – Cyprus". Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  23. ^ Hastürer, Hasan. Lefkoşa'ya en tepeden bakarken... (Kıbrıs Postası) Retrieved on 13 June 2012.
  24. ^ Solsten, Eric. "The Republic of Cyprus". US Library of Congress. Retrieved 2012-06-18. 
  25. ^ "Nicosia Municipality". Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  26. ^ Solsten, Eric. "Intercommunal Violence". US Library of Congress. Retrieved 2012-06-18. 
  27. ^ "CYPRUS: Big Troubles over a Small Island". TIME. 29 July 1974. 
  28. ^ Alford, Jonathan. Adelphi papers, Issues 149-164 (1979), International Institute for Strategic Studies, p. 18.
  29. ^ The Cyprus Conspiracy: America, Espionage and the Turkish Invasion. By Brendan O'Malley, Ian Craig. 2001-08-25. Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  30. ^ Malcolm Nathan Shaw, International Law, Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN 978-0-521-82473-6, p. 212.
  31. ^ Emotion as Cyprus border opens (BBC News) Retrieved on 2012-06-18.
  32. ^ Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus
  33. ^ Symbolic Cyprus crossing reopens (BBC News) Retrieved on 2012-06-18.
  34. ^ The Constitution - Appendix D: Part 12 - Miscellaneous Provisions
  35. ^ Dereboyu’na yakışmadı (Kıbrıs) Retrieved on 2011-05-29.
  36. ^ "Kurban bayramı yarın başlıyor". Star Kıbrıs. 19 December 2007. Retrieved 28 April 2012. 
  37. ^ Nicosia Shopping & Travel Guide, Sü-Ha Tic., p. 80
  38. ^ "Kardeş Kentleri Listesi ve 5 Mayıs Avrupa Günü Kutlaması [via]" (in Turkish). Ankara Büyükşehir Belediyesi - Tüm Hakları Saklıdır. Archived from the original on 14 January 2009. Retrieved 2013-07-21. 
  39. ^ "Ankara - Twin Towns". © Retrieved 2013-10-19. 
  40. ^ "Kardeş Şehirler". Bursa Büyükşehir Belediyesi Basın Koordinasyon Merkez. Tüm Hakları Saklıdır. Retrieved 2013-07-27. 
  41. ^ "Gaziantep - Twin Towns". © Retrieved 2013-10-19. 

External links[edit]