Our walk of Saturday 17 December 2016 visits all 11 bastions decorating the 16th c. Venetian Walls of Old Nicosia Town; the Walls surround Nicosia and were constructed as fortifications; to visit all 11 bastions, our walk will include crossing over to the occupied part of Nicosia. Here is your chance to get to know places better, and discover some hidden treasures. This is an easy stroll, with a strong cultural aspect.
We start on Athinas street, outside the garden of Chrysaliniotissa (also known as Toufexi garden), in the Famagusta Gate area. There are enough spaces to park your car on the side of side streets in the vicinity. The walk starts at 11:00 am. Xenophon is leading this walk, which will go ahead even in light rain; if you need to, call 97613720. The walk will take about 2 ½ hours, including stops, is on totally flat ground and is classified as easy.
We shall walk all along the Walls, passing Famagusta Gate, the Liberation monument, Bayraktar mosque, Nicosia municipal hall, Solomou square, and exiting the Walls at Paphos Gate. We turn right to reach Ledra Palace, where we shall cross over to the occupied part of Nicosia. Past the check point, we enter the Walls and walk all along them. We pass Kyrenia Gate and reach the other end of the dividing line, Flatro, the divided bastion. This concludes the visit to the 11 bastions. From there, we turn inwards, to visit some of the most precious monuments and sites of occupied Nicosia within the Walls: Selimiye mosque/ Agia Sophia church, Haydarpasha mosque/ Agia Ekaterini church, Buyuk khan etc. We then reach the crossing point at Ledra street. The return itinerary will pass a few more sites, to take us back to the garden of Chrysaliniotissa.
Here is a list of places we may walk past, on our itinerary: Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios museum, Omeriye Turkish baths, Omeriye mosque, Phaneromeni church, Ledras, Nicosia municipal hall, Bayraktar mosque, Liberation monument, the aqueduct and Famagusta Gate.
At the end of the walk we shall sit down for a meal at a restaurant, in the area. To facilitate arrangements, for your better service, you are required to pre-register, if you are joining us for lunch. To do so, please e-mail the walk leader by end Thursday. No need to register if you are not dining.
NB: You need to carry your passport or EU ID card, to be allowed entry to occupied Nicosia. The walk in occupied Nicosia will allow time to view the exterior of sites, but not for entering sites or shopping.
How to get to the walk start:
Directions start from the very central Solomou square and Omirou Avenue just outside the Medieval Walls. Follow Omirou Avenue eastwards. You are driving along the Medieval Walls. Keep going straight, with the Walls steady on your left. Omirou Avenue eventually changes name to Stasinou Avenue, then Salaminos Avenue and then Spyrou Christodoulou Avenue. The distance from start to the junction between Spyrou Christodoulou Avenue and Pouliou Kapota Avenue is about 1.9 – 2 km. At this junction there are traffic lights. Facing you on your left is one side of the Chrysaliniotissa garden. Turn left at the traffic lights, and then right at the next junction, a few hundred metres up, into Athinas street. Athinas street is an extension, northwards, of the road that passes outside Famagusta Gate.
Google Maps: Here is a map taking you from Solomou square (the central bus terminal on Omirou Avenue, in Nicosia city centre), to the meeting place (Chrysaliniotissa garden), where we start our walk http://tinyurl.com/nma87ea
About the Medieval Walls: The first Walls surrounding Nicosia were built in the 14th century by the Francs and enclosed a larger area than the 16th century Venetian Walls that still surround the old town. When the Venetians occupied Cyprus, they decided to demolish the Frankish Walls, because they were old and did not offer adequate defense against new weapons, such as artillery. The Frankish Walls were also too big to be manned by the Venetian army and too close to the hills in the east and southeast of the city. Forming a circle, the Walls built by the Venetians were fortified by eleven heart – shaped bastions and protected by an 80 metres wide moat. They were built of mud – brick, with the lower part only buttressed by stone. When the Ottomans occupied Nicosia, they repaired the walls and covered the upper part with stones. In present times, the moat around the Walls now has many different uses, serving as sports fields, public gardens, an open – air sculpture exhibition, car parks etc. In 2013, a new installation of lighting makes the Walls an attractive sight in the evenings.
The 11 Bastions of Nicosia Walls:
In the order in which we shall be seeing them, clockwise, they are Flatro (above Chrysaliniotissa training ground, military posts on it, half Greek Cypriot, half Turkish), Caraffa (Famagusta Gate), Podocataro (Liberation Monument), Costanza (Bayraktar mosque), D’ Avila (Nicosia Town Hall), Tripoli (Solomou square bus terminal), Roccas (Paphos Gate), Mula, Quirini (west of Kyrenia gate), Barbaro (east of Kyrenia gate), Loredano and Flatro.
A few notes about some other sites, which we may walk past:
The Omeriye mosque was originally a church of the Order of the Augustinians dedicated to St Mary. The door of the main entrance belongs to the original 14th century building. After Nicosia fell to the Ottomans, the Ottomans rebuilt the walls and added a wooden roof and a minaret, converting the building into a mosque in 1571. The name of the mosque is associated with the 7th century prophet Omer who, legend has it, visited Nicosia on his way to Egypt, and spent the night in the porch of the ruined church.
The church of Phaneromeni (Panagia tis Phaneromenis) is the largest church Within the Walls, was built in the 18th century on the ruins of a Medieval nunnery and received drastic renovation in 1872. The miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary dates to the 14th century. In its courtyard, the church includes a mausoleum with the relics of the Archbishop and 3 Bishops who died at the hands of the Ottomans in an uprising in 1821.
The Bayraktar (flag bearer) mosque was built at the place where the first Ottoman flag bearer succeeded in placing his flag in 1570, as Nicosia fell to the Ottomans after the siege. The flag bearer was said to have been killed on the spot by the defenders of Nicosia and was buried there.
The Liberation Monument was erected in 1973 to honor the liberation of EOKA fighters from prison in 1959. It depicts the goddess of victory looking upon two fighters liberating the Greeks of Cyprus from British power. The monument is a symbol of the struggle for liberation from British rule, 1955-1959.
Famagusta Gate is the prettiest of the 3 Gates of Nicosia, and was leading to the port of Famagusta. Originally it was called Porta Giuliana, as a tribute to Giulio Savorgnano, the Engineer who designed and built the Venetian fortifications in the 16th century. The Gate has an impressive façade, with a decorated arch. On either side of the pass there are rooms for the guards. The Gate presently operates as a Cultural Centre.
A few notes about some sites in occupied Nicosia:
Haydarpasha mosque was originally the 14th c. church of Agia Ekaterini, built by the Lusignans in gothic style.
Selimiye mosque was originally the 13th c. church of Agia Sophia, built by the Lusignans in gothic style.
Bedestan was the Orthodox church of Agios Nikolaos in the Venetian period.
Buyuk khan was built in 16th c. by the Ottomans. Now it houses many stores.
Conquerors of Nicosia:
Lusignans or Francs 1192 – 1489 AD
Venetians 1489 – 1570 AD
Ottomans 1570 – 1878 AD
British 1878 – 1960 AD
Disclaimer: If you attend a Cyprus Strollers walk you do so entirely at your own risk. The Cyprus Strollers is a social club and neither the organizers nor the leader of the walk are responsible for the health and safety of those taking part.