Last modified: 2013-02-17 by ivan sache
Keywords: nicosia | levkosia | lefkose | dove (white) | bastion |
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Flag of Nicosia - Image by Eleana Petsa, 17 September 2003
Nicosia was known at the Age of Bronze as Ledra, but, at that time, it
was less important than Kourion and Paphos. Destroyed in the 7th century, Nicosia was rebuilt in the 10th century by the Byzantines, who named the town Lefkosia, probably because of the white poplars (lefke) that grew profusely along river Pedeios.
When the Latin lords of the Lusignan dynasty established their kingdom in Cyprus, they renamed the town Nicosie, by corruption of Lefkosia. The town was damaged during invasions by the Genoese (1373) and the Mameluks (1426).
The Venitian rule over Cyprus started in 1481. In the 16th century, the Venitians enclosed Nicosia within 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, each of them named one of the Venetian families which funded the construction of the wall (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 abither five are located in the Turkish zone, whereas the 11th bastion, Flatro, is controlled by UN. 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
The flag of Nicosia represents the Venetian walls. Only eight bastions are represented on the emblem and flag.
Eleana Petsa & Santiago Dotor, 26 September 2003