Top Historic Sights in Nicosia, Cyprus

Explore the historic highlights of Nicosia

Selimiye Mosque

Selimiye Mosque, also known as Agia Sofia Cathedralm, is the largest and oldest surviving gothic church in Cyprus possibly constructed on the site of an earlier Byzantine church. The building belongs to the pure Gothic style of the beginning of the 12th century. Due to the building’s large scale, lack of money and various historical events it took 150 years for the cathedral to be built and still, it was never completed ...
Founded: c. 1209 | Location: Nicosia, Cyprus

Haydar Pasha Mosque

Haydar Pasha Mosque, the former church of St. Catherine, was built in the 14th century and it follows the southern France architectural style. The church is an elegant building comprised of a central space covered by two groin vaults. It also has an altar which ends with a three sided apse. On the apse’s northeastern side there is a two-storey building with groin vaults. On the apse’s southwestern side there i ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Nicosia, Cyprus

Notre Dame de Tyre

Notre Dame de Tyre is a 14th-century monastery in Nicosia. It is believed that the original church, known as the Benedictine Abbey of Our Lady of Tyre, was founded in the 13th century as a principal convent following the fall of Jerusalem. In 1308, the Lusignan king, Henry II of Jerusalem, repaired the church after it was destroyed by an earthquake. As many of the nuns were Armenian in origin, it came under the Armenian C ...
Founded: c. 1308 | Location: Nicosia, Cyprus

Tamassos

Tamassos is an archaeological site which lies under the modern villages of Politiko, Pera and Episkopio. Visible today in the large site are the temple of Aphrodite, two majestic royal tombs as well as several smaller ones. It seems that Tamasos was founded around the 8th century B.C., in an area which was already inhabited from the Late Bronze Age, and until the first half of the 7th century it had developed into an imp ...
Founded: 800-400 BC | Location: Nicosia, Cyprus

Presidential Palace

The Presidential Palace is the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the Republic of Cyprus. It is located close to the centre of Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, and is surrounded by a thick pine woodland. The original building was a prefabricated structure erected in November 1878 on a site known as Snake Hill, on which Richard the Lionheart is said to have set up camp. The building was shipped ...
Founded: 1937 | Location: Nicosia, Cyprus

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.