A city divided…But Lefkosia, the way the Greek calls their capital, is a collection of winding alleys, some beautiful and some less so. However you can find interesting places all over the old town that skirts around the bastions of the Venetian fortifications that surround the entire city. Churches, mosques, old “hamams” converted in fancy spas, entry gates, old high schools and lots of museums. The diverse architecture is stunning, Gothic arches framing minarets added to converted churches, ottoman houses, byzantine orthodox churches all surrounded by loaded orange trees.
We took a bus from Larnaka that brought us to Elefteria Square in a process of permanent reconstruction and start winding through the restaurants that align the streets going towards the palace of the archbishop. When I was a kid I remember that daily were news about Archbishop Makarios, a major figurehead of the country who was able to secure its independence from the Brits. An interesting position of a religious leader turned statesman in a world that tries to carve deep divisions between church and state. Around the palace that had in front a large Mercedes limousine with the initials AK waiting for the new archbishop is the Archbishop Makarios cultural center, a large collection of museums surrounding St John’s cathedral covered inside in amazing fresco. Wandering further on vary streets you can discover lots of other places and an amazing local architecture of small buildings aligning the roads converging unfortunately toward the ill fated Green Line, the demarcation zone between the two parts of the city. I don’t know if the division or the current economic crisis left many businesses out but the closer you go to the Green Line the silence becomes eerie. It is almost no traffic on those streets and you just see the roads blocked by barrels with the border sign prohibiting you to take photos of the derelict buildings destroyed in the process that were not touched since their demise.