LEFKOŞA (the northern half of what was, before 1974, Nicosia), is the capital city of north Cyprus. As with its southern counterpart, most of Lefkoşa’s modern buildings and administrative machinery lie outside the Venetian walls, and most of what visitors will want to see are in the old town within the walls. Compared to the southern part of the city, Lefkoşa is noticeably less vital, with the air more of a sleepy provincial town than a national capital. While the city feels safe, wandering in areas away from the centre is best avoided at night.
Foreign tourists usually enter from the south through the Ledra Street crossing. Once across, you’re faced with an attractively pedestrianized area packed with shops, cafés and restaurants. Clear signposts indicate where the nearest attractions lie. Beyond here the main street – Girne Caddesi – leads north to the Girne Gate, the best place to start a walking tour of North Lefkoşa. If you’re short of time, though, it’s probably worth heading straight to the Büyük Han, a beautifully renovated sixteenth-century merchants’ inn. Museums to look out for include the Mevlevî Tekke and Lapidary Museums and the Dervis Paşa Mansion, each worth an hour or so of your time. Other places of interest include the Samanbahçe Quarter, an early experiment in social housing, and the dishevelled but improving Arabhmet Quarter. Religious sites include the huge Selimiye Mosque, visible north and south of the Green Line. Beside it is the ornately Gothic Bedestan, once a Christian church, now a performance venue. Other sights, among them the National Struggle Museum, the Museum of Barbarism and of course the giant flags looming on the hillside behind the city, provide uncomfortable reminders of the island’s division.Read More
North Cyprus festivals
North Cyprus festivals
Whatever the festivals are called, in North Cyprus they usually include a wide variety of activities and events, not all directly relating to the subject contained in the title. So the tulip festival includes a pinball competition, an olive festival a darts competition. And many also throw in a beauty contest for good measure.
Tepebasi Tulip Festival
Walks and displays to celebrate the Cyprus tulip (Tulipa Cypria) and a wide range of activities – including bicycle tours, dancing and a pinball competition, in villages near Lapta.
International Bellapais Music Festival
(wbellapaisfestival.com) A festival of chamber and choral music and dance in one of North Cyprus’s most beautiful settings – Bellapais Abbey.
International Famagusta Art and Culture Festival
(wmagusa.org) Huge music, theatre, ballet, visual arts festival held at various venues in Gazimağusa.
Girne Living Culture and Art Festival
Turkish and Cypriot drama and music festival held in Girne’s amphitheatre.
Iskele International Folk Dance Festival
Folk dancing groups from all over the world take part in this festival, with evening performances over a week.
Lapta Tourist Festival
(June) Huge range of competitions aimed at and put on by the expat community – pool, table tennis, remote-controlled boats – there’s even an “alcohol-drinking competition” (details at wcyprusscene.com).
Lefke Walnut Festival
(June) Festival of walnut-based sweets in the village in the western part of North Cyprus.
Gecitkale Hellim (Halloumi) Festival
A variety of events and demonstrations revolving around the Cypriot cheese halloumi – cooking, photography (not just photographs of cheese), beauty and fashion competitions.
International Girne Olive Festival
(Oct) Dance and drama, music, food (with an olive theme) and drink, shooting and darts competitions. Starts in Kyrenia Castle, then moves to the village of Zeytinlik. wgirnebelediyesi.com.