Nicosia, Cyprus - Encyclopedia

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NICOSIA, the capital of Cyprus, situated in the north central part of the island. Pop. (1901) 14,752 (Moslem, 6013; Christian, 8739). Its earliest name was Ledra, but Leucos, son of Ptolemy Soter (280 B.C.), is said to have restored it and changed its name to Leuteon, Leucotheon or Levcosia. A mile S.W. of the town lies the very large Bronze Age necropolis known as Hagia Paraskevi, which has been repeatedly explored with valuable results. The circuit of the city was reduced in 1567, under the direction of the Venetian engineer G. Savorgnano, from 9 m. to 3 m.; eighty churches and a number of fine houses were sacrificed. The new walls were given a circular shape, with eleven bastions and three gates. Water is supplied by two aqueducts. Government House, the residence of the high commissioner, the government offices, hospital, central prison and the new English church are without the walls. The fosse has been planted, and part of it used as an experimental garden. Carriage roads have been completed to Kyrenia, Kythraia, Famagusta, Larnaca, Limasol and Morphou. The principal monuments of the Lusignan period are the fine cathedral church of St Sophia, an edifice of French Gothic, at once solid and elegant (the towers were never completed); the church of St Catherine, an excellent example of the last years of the 14th century (both these are now mosques); and the church of St Nicolas of the English (now a grain store), built for the order of the Knights of St Thomas of Acre. A gateway of no great importance is nearly all that remains of the palace last used by the Venetian provveditori. It dates from the end of the 15th century. There is a museum, with a valuable catalogue. The chief industries are tanning and hand weaving, both silk and cotton.

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