Wednesday, August 08, 2012
*Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2012 : « Getting Around »...*
The ‘Filoxenia’ Conference Centre will constitute the base of the Cyprus EU Presidency. It is located in Aglantzia, one of the largest municipalities in the greater Lefkosia district and it will host the majority of meetings which will take place in Cyprus.
Getting to ‘Filoxenia’ is easy. Frequent bus routes with designated timetables connect Filoxenia with the city centre and the hotels in Lefkosia. The routes also include the shuttle stops which connect Lefkosia with the Larnaka airport. Bus 501, which conducts the frequent route between Filoxenia and Lefkosia city centre has a fare of only € 1, and is carried out by the Transportation Agency of the Lefkosia District (OSEL).
Also, visitors can hire a taxi, which will be parked in an allocated area outside Filoxenia. Taxi fares are displayed on a special sign posted on the glass of the cars’ back seats.
Bus 501 stops at Solomos Square and from there visitors can wonder around the old town of Lefkosia, which still preserves its historic character. The old town is enclosed within Venetian walls dating back to the 16th century, with eleven heart-shaped bastions. The pedestrian streets of Ledras and Onasagorou constitute landmarks of the old town and provide visitors with an array of options for shopping, coffee, drinks and food. At the Levention Municipal Museum inLaiki Geitonia (the pedestrian quarter), visitors can explore the rich history of the capital.
Nearby Solomos Square, towards the west, one finds the Museum of Cyprus which hosts the most notable archaeological findings from the Neolithic to the Byzantine period of the island. During the Presidency, the museum will also be hosting the “anThrOPOS” exhibition. The walled city, at the heart of the old town, also houses several historic orthodox churches, notably those of Phaneromeni and of Archangel Michael Trypiotou, with the latter being famed for its exquisite beauty. Visitors will also be able to visit several monuments from the island’s ottoman period, such as the Omerye mosque, which has traditionally been the main worship place for Muslims of the capital. The mosque used to be an Augustinian catholic church. The old ottoman baths Hamam, which are located opposite the Omerye have been renovated and now operate on a daily basis.
Continuing eastwards within the walls one finds the mansion of Dragoman Hatzjigeorgaki Konresios, which constitutes a wonderful example of an 18th century mansion. The Archbishopric is located nearby, while exactly opposite rests the historic Pancyprian Gymnasium, the first gymnasium set up in Lefkosia. The Cathedral of St. John Theologou, which is situated next to the Archbishopric and opposite the Pancyprian Gymnasium, boasts a rich collection of frescoes, dating back to the 18th century. While in the area, one can also visit the Byzantine Museum of the Archbishop Makarios III Institute, which hosts the oldest and most notable byzantine icons of Cyprus. Among the Museum’s exhibits are segments of a mosaic from the Church of Kanakaria, which dates back to the 6th century.
The traditional neighbourhood of “Chrysaliniotissa”, which borders the Archbishopric, was named after a church of the same name, which constitutes one of the most significant byzantine churches of old Lefkosia. Enjoy a stroll through the distinctively traditional narrow streets of the neighbourhood that wonder around the beautiful renovated houses. From Chrysaliniotissa and moving towards the walls, one finds the most splendid gates of Venetian Lefkosia, the Famagusta Gate. In the past, it led the way to the most important harbour of the island in Famagusta, from which it took its name. Today, the Gate is a Cultural Centre of the Lefkosia Municipality and hosts numerous cultural events. The area neighbouring Famagusta Gate offers several options for a night out, with multiple taverns, cafes and bars.
The Famagusta gate
In the case that visitors wish to stroll around on foot, there are two parks close to ‘Filoxenia’, the Academy Park and Aglantzia Park. Finally, for those who have some spare time or are interested in shopping, there is an array of shops on the capital’s two main commercial streets, Archbishop Makarios III Avenue and Stasikratous Street.