Welcome to North Nicosia (Lefkoşa)
Highlights in North Nicosia (Lefkoşa)
North Nicosia’s most prominent landmark (also clearly visible from the southern half of the city), the Selimiye Mosque is a beautiful mongrel of a building. A cross between a French Gothic church and a mosque, its fascinating history stretches back to the 13th century. Although it’s a working place of worship, non-Muslims may visit, except during prayer time. For the most atmosphere, time your visit either just before or after one of the five daily prayer sessions.
This neighbourhood rubbing up against the Green Line is home to well-preserved examples of Ottoman-era town-house architecture. The narrow alleyways are rimmed by tall whitewashed houses – some recently restored, others sinking into genteel dilapidation – with painted shutters and upper-storey overhanging
The Büyük Han is Cyprus’ best-preserved example of Ottoman caravanserai architecture. Built in 1572 by the first Ottoman governor of Cyprus, Lala Mustafa Pasha, it was renovated in the early 1990s, and has once again become the hub of North Nicosia’s Old City bustle. The courtyard is home to a couple of cafes, including the ever-popular Sedirhan, and traditional craft workshops are housed in the small cells leading off the 1st-floor balcony that originally served as the inn’s sleeping areas.
Cafe culture is currently stoking a revival of the Old City, with a handful of cafe-bars at the forefront of creating a new nightlife scene within North Nicosia’s Venetian walls. In saying that, North Nicosia can in no way compete with the buzzing cafe and bar scene of Nicosia. If you’re looking for more vigour and choice, head over the Green Line into the South.