Nicosia


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Nicosia

(nĭkəsē`ə), Gr. Levkosia, Turkish Lefkoşa, city (1992 pop. 177,410), capital of Cyprus, on the Pedieos River in the central plain of the island. It is also the center of an administrative district, part of which is in the Turkish sector. Nicosia, the country's largest city, is an agricultural trade center and has textile, leather, pottery, plastic, and other manufactures. Copper mines are nearby. Known as Ledra or Ledrae in antiquity, it was the residence of the LusignanLusignan
, French noble family. The name is derived from a castle in Poitou, built, according to legend, by Mélusine. The family was powerful in the Middle Ages and ruled (13th–14th cent.) the county of Marche. One branch was prominent in the history of the Crusades.
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 kings of Cyprus from 1192, became a Venetian possession in 1489, and fell to the Turks in 1571. The tombs of the Lusignans are in the former Church of St. Sophia (13th cent.), now a mosque. There also are remnants of the Venetian fortifications and museums with notable collections of antiquities. Nicosia was the scene of bitter strife in the period just prior to Cypriot independence (1960), and since the Turkish invasion (1974) part of the city's northern sector has been inside the boundary of the United Nations' buffer zone. The name is also spelled Nikosia.

Nicosia

 

(Levkosía), the capital of the republic of Cyprus. The economic and cultural center of the country, Nicosia is situated almost in the center of the island at an elevation of 150 m on the Messaoria Plain, which extends between the Kyrenia Mountains in the north and the Troodos Mountains in the southwest. The climate is subtropical and Mediterranean. The average January temperature is approximately 10°C, and the average July temperature is 28°C; annual precipitation totals 360 mm. Located in a treeless steppe, the city resembles a green oasis, owing to extensive tree planting. Population, including the suburbs, 118,000 (1971; 103,000, 1960).

Nicosia was probably founded in the seventh century B.C. It was originally called Ledrae and later renamed Leukotheos; its present name dates to approximately the 13th century A.D. In 58 B.C., Nicosia was conquered by the Romans; it became part of the Roman Empire and then of Byzantium. In 1191, during the Third Crusade, it was seized by the English king Richard the Lion-Hearted, and from 1192 to 1489 it was the capital of the Kingdom of Cyprus, founded by the Crusaders. In 1570 it was captured by the Ottoman Turks.

Nicosia was an important center for the Cypriots’ struggle for national independence during the period of the Greek War of Independence of 1821–29; in March 1821 a branch of the Greek secret society Philike Hetairia, which supported the liberation of Cyprus from the Ottoman yoke, was established in Nicosia. It was again an important center of struggle during the uprising against British colonial rule in October 1931. Since Aug. 16, 1960, Nicosia has been the capital of the republic of Cyprus. It is the archiepiscopal seat of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Cyprus.

Nicosia is a transportation junction. Highways link it with all of Cyprus’s seaports and large cities—Ammokhostos (Famagusta), Larnax (Larnaca), Lemesos (Limassol), Kirinia (Kyrenia), and Pafos. It has an international airport. Industries in Nicosia produce textiles, tobacco, food, leather footwear, pottery, and wooden and metal products. Nicosia is popular with tourists.

The center of the city is surrounded by a Venetian fortress wall (1567, designed by F. Barbaro, according to plans by G. Savorgnano) and has preserved its 16th-century layout. It has many historical buildings, including the Gothic Cathedral of St. Sophia (now the Selimye Mosque; 13th-14th centuries); the Gothic Armenian Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary (c. 1300); an Augustinian church (now the Omerieh Mosque); the Bedestan marketplace (the remains of a Gothic basilica, expanded in the 14th—16th centuries); the Cathedral Church of St. John (rebuilt in 1665; paintings c. 1730); and the archbishops’ palace. Outside the Venetian fortifications is the new, modern section of the city.

Located in Nicosia are the Cyprus Research Center, the Society of Cypriot Studies, the Cyprus Musical Society, the Society for Friends of the Antiquities, and other scholarly institutions. There are 12 libraries, including the Library of Phaneromeni, the Ministry of Education Library, the Sultan’s Library, and the Turkish Public Library. Also in Nicosia are the Cyprus Museum, the Folk Art Museum, the Museum of National Relics, the Turkish Cypriot Museum, the Museum of Byzantine Icons, and the Lapidary Museum, which contains fragments of medieval buildings.

REFERENCES

Kipr. Moscow, 1969. (Guide.)
Korovina, A. K., and Sidorova, N. A. Goroda Kipra. [Moscow, 1973.]

Nicosia

the capital of Cyprus, in the central part on the Pedieos River: capital since the 10th century. Pop. (Greek and Turkish): Pop.: 211 000 (2005 est.)
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