Nicosia is the capital of Cyprus, a status it has enjoyed for more than 1000 years since the 10th century.
As the seat of Government, diplomatic headquarters and cultural centre of Cyprus, Nicosia lies roughly in the centre of the island in the Mesaoria Plain, flanked by the beautiful northern range of Kyrenia mountains.
The capital presents itself with two distinct identities; the old, original part of the city, surrounded by sturdy Venetian walls over 400 years old, and a busy modern urban metropolis with a population of more than 150,000.
The central Eleftheria Square links old Nicosia with the modern city of hotels, offices and restaurants that stand side by side with the gardens, fine old houses and colonial buildings of another era.
While visiting Nicosia, be sure not to miss the house of Hadjigeorgakis Kornessios, originally a Venetian building and probably the most important 18th century building in Nicosia.
The Cyprus Museum holds fascinating collection of Cypriot antiquities and art treasures from the Neolithic Age to the early Byzantine Period.
Nearby to Nicosia, the ancient city kingdom of Idalion has not yet been fully excavated, but outside the present village of Dhali, part of the ancient walls of the city can be seen.
At the nearby village of Perachorio the church of the Holy Apostles contains very beautiful 12th century frescoes.
Phikardou is just 1 1/2 km east of Gourri village, just off the road Makhairas-Nicosia Via Klirou. The whole village has been declared an ancient 'monument' in order to preserve the remarkable woodwork and folk architecture of the 18th century houses.
With a recent history of a divided island, a United Nations monitored Green Line that runs through the city of Nicosia separates the Turkish north from the Greek south. Partition occurred in 1974 after ethnic tension erupted into conflict in 1974. Cyprus remains the only divided nation in the world since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
HOW TO GET THERE
As Nicosia does not have an airport, you will have to fly in to Larnaca Airport which lies about 60 kilometres to the south-east of Nicosia.
In theory, there are public intercity buses which connect the airport to Nicosia but they are not very frequent.
Many frequent visitors will tell you that the best way to get to Nicosia from the airport is by private taxi.
Charter airlines such as Monarch, JMC and VirginSun fly the bulk of holidaymakers to Southern Cyprus during the peak summer months.
The two main carriers operating scheduled flights to Cyprus are British Airways and Cyprus Airways, with a small number of smaller operators, such as Air2000 and Helios Airways.