Nicosia, the capital of the TRNC, is divided by the Green Line into North and South. There is plenty to see in the atmospheric northern part which has happily defied ultra modernisation. No high rise all-glass offices here but wonderful Gothic and Byzantine buildings, old style market streets and plenty of good eating places. Nicosia dates back 2,200 (approximately) years to the settlement of Ledra. During the Byzantine period on the island the name was changed back to Lefkon, which comes from poplar grove.
The narrow streets are not suited to modern traffic and the easiest way to get around is on foot. This is made very easy by following the Blue Line, a very broad blue stripe painted on the footpath. This circular tour takes you to all the major places of interest and there are notice boards displaying the map of the tour along the way. The easiest way is to pick up a free map, ‘The Blue Line map’ at the tourist office at the Kyrenia gate. On the reverse of the map are details of the places of interest all neatly numbered and crossed referenced on the map. Although only 4.5km (2.8 miles) long, there are plenty of highlights along the way. These include the old inn, Buyuk Han, Selimiye Mosque converted from an earlier cathedral, Arasta shopping street and the Mevlevi Museum dedicated to the Whirling Dervishes. Allow plenty of time to do this circuit, a full morning followed by lunch perhaps.
If you wish to explore the southern sector, there is a pedestrian crossing point, Lokmaci, in Ledra Street which is signposted off the western end of Arasta Street and shown on the map. Remember to take your passport and visa slip.
Todays Nicosia offers a lots of shops and an old bazaar. There are also many restaurants. Nicosia also has one of the largest University (Near East University) on the island.