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 compl ...
Founded: c. 1209 | 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

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

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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Fortrose Cathedral Ruins

Fortrose Cathedral was the episcopal seat of the medieval Scottish diocese of Ross. It is probable that the original site of the diocese was at Rosemarkie (as early as AD 700), but by the 13th century the canons had relocated a short distance to the south-west to the site known as Fortrose or Chanonry. The first recorded bishop, from around 1130, was Macbeth. According to Gervase of Canterbury, in the early 13th century the cathedral of Ross was manned by Céli Dé.

The oldest part of the present ruin is north choir range of the late 1300s. This range is now free-standing but was once attached to the choir. The only other part still standing is south aisle and chapel, built in the late 1300s.

The cathedral ceased to function as such at the Protestant Reformation in 1560. The story goes that most of the stonework went to build Cromwell’s citadel in Inverness in the early 1650s.

Only the ground plan survives of the cathedral itself. All that remains above ground are two separate structures that once projected out from it. The older of the two is the two-storey building that projected from the north side of the choir. This housed the sacristy and chapter house at ground level, and perhaps a treasury and library on the more secure upper floor. Though never a wealthy diocese, the chapter comprised 21 senior clergy, called canons.

After the Reformation, the building was retained and fitted out as the burgh’s tollbooth (town hall and prison). The upper floor was adapted as the council chamber and court house, and the lower floor as a prison.

This elegant structure was added to the south wall of the nave in the late 1300s by Countess Euphemia of Ross (d. 1395). It was doubtless intended as a chantry chapel, where prayers were said for the countess’s soul. Her fine canopied tomb, with little left of its effigy, is built into the east arch of the chapel. Two other monumental tombs are of Bishop Fraser (d. 1507) and Bishop Cairncross (d. 1545).

The quality of the structure’s masonry is outstanding. It is evident in the fine stone vaulting and in what remains of the elaborate window tracery. You can also see this quality in the internal fixtures such as the piscina in the chapel, where the vessels used at Mass were ritually cleansed.

As with the north choir aisle, alterations were made after the Reformation. The most obvious of these was the addition of a clock turret above the stair tower.