Colette Ni Reamonn Ioannidou grew up in Howth. She arrived in Cyprus in the autumn of 1971. She worked on television and on radio at the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation as a newsreader, presenter and DJ. She taught English as a second language and had written for various local publications. She is now retired, but is still writing.
The first place I always bring people to see
The Venetian Walls. (Go to my final answer for more).
The top three things to do that don’t cost money
Do the free guided tours at the Cyprus Museum, which happen on Tuesday and Friday. Small though the museum may be, it is rich in content and has artefacts from Neolithic to Roman times on display. On my first visit, I was impressed by a reconstruction of a Neolithic burial (they interred the dead under the floors of their houses) the reconstruction was complete with skeletal remains. Chirokitia, the site of the burial, is a short drive from Nicosia and well worth a visit.
The Great Inn in Nicosia, Cyprus, is considered to be one of the finest buildings on the island. Photograph: Getty Images
The guided walking tour (Thursday) of the Walls and the Folk Neighbourhood, which takes place on Thursday, is perfect for people my age – mid-seventies. Avoid the humid heat of high summer and come to Cyprus in April into May when walking, driving or a meal outside is a warm and pleasant experience. The Folk Neighbourhood has streets filled with local crafts and souvenirs which tourists love to browse, and old churches with like illustrated bibles. There are cafes galore in which to sit and watch the world go by.
Don’t miss the house of Dragoman Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios from the late Turkish period. There’s another guided walking tour of Kaimakli (Thursday). Kaimakli still maintains narrow village-style streets and architecture typical of the former town. It is a tranquil space near the heart of a very busy capital.
Where do you recommend for a great meal that gives a flavour of Nicosia?
Zanettos Tavern at 65, Trikoupi Street, Old Town, is worth a visit for its for genuine Cyprus cuisine or Inga’s Veggie (and vegan) Heaven, Dimonaktos 2, a small no-frills venture, great home-cooked food by Inga and Itala, an integrated Icelander and ditto, an Italian. End the day at Sarah’s Jazz Club, near Trikoupi for great music and a relaxing drink.
What is the best place to get a sense of Nicosia’s place in history?
The Venetian Walls around the Old Town encircle much of Nicosia’s history including quaint balconied houses reminiscent of bygone times. The Archbishopric, Archbishop Kyprianou Square, houses a Byzantine museum and art galleries, and in its environs, the Folk Art Museum and the National Struggle Museum. Small fees are required. Opposite the Roman Aqueduct on a street above that square there’s an interesting monument commemorating Cyprus’s liberty from British colonialism. It is a great favourite with photographers. On the lip of the Walls there are wonderful views of Nicosia’s past and present and to the north, the gentle stretch of the Kyrenia Mountains.
What would my visitor save room for in their suitcase after a visit to Nicosia?
To the left of Veggie Heaven, interesting craft shops. One is owned by Bobbie who sells genuine, hand-painted icons ranging in price from €50 upwards. You won’t find “Made in China” printed on the back of any of them.