Nicosia as a capital city has a long and rich history and now has the dubious honour of being the only divided capital in Europe. It became the capital around the 10th Century.
Under Venetian rule the fortifications were built in the shape of a star with eleven bastions and the Pedieos river running through it until it was diverted to the moat.
The old city within the beautiful medieval walls always had both populations living within it -
Since 1964 though the populations were largely separated by a Green Line which is patrolled by the UN and this became more of a border after 1974. For years we could not cross. Since 2004 though the borders have opened and moving to and from the two sides has become easier if not acceptable. There are Greek Cypriots who rightly or wrongly cannot bring themselves to go across to the North. - even after 42 years it is still painful to see others in your home, or ploughing your land.There maybe Turkish Cypriots who feel equally comromised about homes and properties they left in the South.
These areas, whether within the walls of the city or the town of Kyrenia, Morphou, Famagusta or the Karpass represent areas that we knew and loved and that we still hope we will return to one day. Under what conditions or terms remains to be seen.
Since the borders opened, every time I am on the island I take the opportunity to go to the North and see what has happened to these areas. I had never visited Northern Nicosia though and this year I had the opportunity to do so, not only with some Australian friends, but with the expert guidance of my sister Anna whose site www.historiccyprus.com offers guided tours and walks largely in the north of the island. Her tours of Northern Nicosia are particularly popular and I was lucky enough to go along on one. Not only did I hear about the city's convoluted and complex history but I walked through the streets to look at the medieval buildings in the area and the houses. Here are some of the highlights of the tour.