Venetian walls of Nicosia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Coordinates: 35°10′18″N 33°22′13″E / 35.171555°N 33.370411°E / 35.171555; 33.370411

Venetian walls of Nicosia
Venetian walls and green parks Nicosia Republic of Cyprus Kypros.jpg
View of the Venitian walls.
General information
Architectural style Star fort
Town or city Nicosia
Country Cyprus
Construction started 1567
Completed 1569
Design and construction
Architect Giulio Savorgnan

The Venetian Walls of Nicosia are historic defensive fortifications located in Nicosia, on the island of Cyprus, which can still be viewed today. They are a major tourist attraction as they are some of the best preserved renaissance walls in the Eastern Mediterranean.


This Venetian fortification complex has a circumference of 3 miles, and contains eleven pentagon-shaped bastions named after eleven families, pillars of the Italian aristocracy of the town, who donated funds towards the construction of the walls and the three gates: Porta San Domenico (Paphos Gate), Porta Guiliana (Famagusta Gate), and Porta del Proveditore (Kyrenia Gate). Experts have considered the walls to be a prime example of 16th century military architecture. Their design incorporates specific innovative techniques, marking the beginning of a renaissance era in fortification construction. These include the positioning of gates to the side of the adjoining bastions, so they could be more easily protected in times of siege, and leaving the upper half of the wall unlined with masonry, to increase its ability to absorb the impact from cannon shot.


In 1567, the Venetians commissioned the Italian military engineers Giulio Savorgnano and Franscesco Barbaro to design new fortifications for the city of Nicosia to protect the inhabitants from imminent Ottoman attack. The new walls replaced the old-style medieval fortifications which engineers deemed inadequate to defend the city. The Venetians demolished several churches and palaces within the city as well as buildings lying outside the new walls, both for the acquisition of building materials and for a clearer field of vision for the defence of the city.

At the same time, the Pedieos River was diverted outside the city either to protect the residents from flooding or to fill the moat encircling the new walls.

Nonetheless, these fortifications were in vain, and the city fell to the forces of the Ottoman admiral Lala Mustafa Pasha in 1570 before the Venetians had completed their construction. The Ottomans captured the bastions almost intact, and they remained almost unchanged until the British era.