Thursday, July 19, 2012

Our Home - Nicosia, Cyprus

We currently live in the old city of Nicosia, Cyprus. Actually it is the "new" city of Nicosia, as the ancient city of Lefkosia is located within the perimeters of Nicosia. Lefkosia is the Greek name for the ancient city. The ancient city of Lefkosia was a walled city built by the Venetians. The impressive Venetian wall surrounding the old city of Nicosia was built between 1567 and 1570 . The wall has an outline of 4,5 km and it originally had three city gates. The most famous,Famagusta gate, is being used today as a cultural center. In some other parts of the wall are services of the city administration. The old center lies within the boundaries of the wall, but the modern Nicosia has grown beyond its original limits.
This Venetian fortification complex has a circumference of 3 miles, and contains eleven pentagon-shaped bastions named after eleven families, pillars of the Italian aristocracy of the town, who donated funds towards the construction of the walls and the three gates, Porta San Domenico Paphos Gate, Porta Guiliana -Famagusta Gate, and Porta del Proveditore -Kyrenia Gate-. Experts contemporary to the construction of the walls have considered them as a prime example of 16th century military architecture. Their design incorporates specific innovative techniques, marking the beginning of a renaissance era in fortification construction. These include the positioning of gates to the side of the adjoining bastions, so they could be more easily protected in times of siege, and leaving the upper half of the wall unlined with masonry, so as to increase its ability to absorb the impact from cannon shot. The Venetian walls are located in Nicosia, Cyprus and can be found today in Nicosia. It is a major and tourist attraction as they are the oldest walls built in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In 1567, the Venetians commissioned the Italian military engineers, Giulio Savorgnano and Franscesco Barbaro, to design new fortifications for the city of Nicosia, in order to protect the inhabitants from imminent Ottoman attack. The new walls replaced the old-style medieval fortifications which engineers deemed inadequate to defend the city. The Venetians demolished several churches and palaces within the city as well as buildings lying outside the new walls, both for the acquisition of building materials and for a clearer field of vision for the defence of the city.
At the same time, the Pedieos River was diverted outside the city either in order to protect the residents from the flood or in order to flood the moat, which encircled the new walls. Nonetheless, these fortifications were in vain, and the city fell to the forces of the Ottoman admiral, Lala Mustafa Pasha in 1570 before the Venetians had completed their construction. The Ottomans captured the bastions almost intact, and they remained almost unchanged till the British era. According to Assyrian sources from the 7th Century BC, today's Nicosia then used to be a city named Ledra. In about 300 BC, the son of the Egyptian king Ptolemy, Lefkos, rebuilt the city, and his name is immortalized in the modern local name of Lefkosa (Turkish) or Lefkosia (Greek). Nicosia is the Frankish name of the city, and is thought to have appeared in the late 1100s. The name is mostly used by foreigners. The capital of the island, it is divided into Turkish occupied and Government controlled sectors by a boundary known as the green Line, which runs in an East-west direction.

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