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Nicosia (Capital city, Cyprus)

Levkosia, Lefkose

Last modified: 2005-01-15 by
Keywords: nicosia | levkosia | lefkose | dove (white) | bastion |
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[Flag of Nicosia]by Eleana Petsa

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Presentation of Nicosia

Nicosia was known at the Age of Bronze as Ledra, but, at that time, it was less important than the cities of Kourion and Paphos. The early city of Nicosia was destroyed in the VIIth century and rebuilt in the Xth century by the Byzantines. They named the city Lefkosia, probably because of the white poplars (lefke), which grew profusely along the river Pedeios.
When the Latin lords of the Lusignan dynasty established their kingdom in Cyprus, they renamed the city Nicosie, by corruption of its former name Lefkosia. The city was damaged during invasions by the Genoese (1373) and the Mameluks (1426).

The Venitian rule over Cyprus started in 1481. In the XVIth century, the Venitians enclosed Nicosia with a huge fortified wall, built in three years under the guidance of architects Savorgnano and Barbaro. The perimeter of the wall is 4.5 km and it is defended by 11 bastions. The eleven bastions each carry the name of one of the Venetian families which funded the construction of the wall. These patrons were called: d'Avila, Tripoli, Roccas, Mula, Quirini, Barbaro, Loredano, Flatro, Garaffa Podocatoro and Costanza. On 9 September 1570, less than three years after the completion of the wall, the Ottomans seized Nicosia after a 42-day siege. On the first bastion they had been able to seize, bastion Costanza, the Ottomans built the mosque Bayraktar, named after a standard bearer (bayrak) who was killed during the assault of the bastion.

Nicosia is now divided between the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognized only by Turkey. The wall and the 11 bastions have been preserved and still separate the old city of Nicosia intra muros from its modern outskirts. Five bastions are located in the Greek zone, another five are located in the Turkish zone, whereas the 11th bastion, Flatro, is controlled by UNO. The moats around the wall are usually dry, but they are sometimes flooded by river Pedeios.

Source: Guide Petit Futé - Country Guide 2004 & Guide Bleu Evasion, Hachette 1997

Ivan Sache, 4 September 2004


Municipal flag of Nicosia

The flag of the municipality of Nicosia represents the Venetian walls.

Eleana Petsa, 17 September 2003

Only eight bastions are represented on the emblem and flag.

Santiago Dotor, 26 September 2003

My best guess is that the designer of the flag represented only eight bastions to preserve the symmetry of the design, assuming that an accurate description of the immediatly regognizable Venetian wall was not required.

Ivan Sache, 4 September 2004

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