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Nicosia, Khirokitia


Home -> Europe -> Cyprus -> Travelogue Cyprus -> 19 February 2001

Monday 19 February, Nicosia, Khirokitia

The Kyrenia mountainsMonday morning we wake up with a brightly shining sun. Today we want to drive to Nicosia, across the Troodos and the Plain of Mesaoria. Then on to the east side of the island and back to the south coast.
Descending the Troodos mountains, we arrive on the plateau of Mesaoria, with an outlook on the Kyrenia mountains. This mountain range is 90 km. long and goes through the Turkish part of the island. It reaches heights of 1000 meters.
Border between north and south CyprusOne can only visit the Turkish part by flying directly into that part, or from Nicosia with a visa for one day. To the right the UN borderpost at Deneia. There are almost no villages and the land looks entirely empty. We are too short here to get a visa and restrict our visit to the Greek southern part of Cyprus.
The wall in NicosiaNicosia has been the capital of Cyprus since the 10th century and has approximately 175,000 inhabitants. Like Berlin used to be, the city is divided by a wall, the Green Line, which is guarded by UN soldiers.
On a certain moment we enter a narrow street with a chain lying on the ground. Within 15 seconds an armed soldier pushes us back, to the main street. They could have set up the chain in a more clear way, we think.
Walking along the wall, Turkish kids continuously yell at us, but we can't understand them. Later we are told they hope for us to throw cigarettes to them, or even money.
Park in Nicosia Park in NicosiaAfter a long walk through the Greek part, we have a break in one of the many parks Nicosia possesses. Nicosia certainly is worth visiting; it has many museums and a scenic old center with small alleys. Walking through them is a special experience.
Khirokitia Khirokitia excavationsLeaving Nicosia to the south, we take secondary roads towards Larnaka. There is a highway, but we avoid it as much as possible to see more of the countryside. However, at the end of the afternoon we have to hurry, for we also want to visit the excavation site at Khirokitia, one of the most important excavations on Cyprus.
In 1934, archeologists discovered here the remains of a neolithic village, from about 6.800 BC. By it's location it is easy to defend and the soil is very fertile. The large amount of farming tools they found, indicated it probably was a permanent settlement of farmers, although they also hunted for game.
Khirokitia, burial place Khirokitia excavationsSome of the houses are reconstructed: they are round buildings, made of clay.
Against the hill, the fundaments of a big part of the village are clearly visible. Together they form some sort of honeycomb structure. It is a bit confusing, though, because they have excavated 5 layers from different time periods. The bottom of a house was build with boulders fom the river. On top of this fundation, they put stones of clay. Whenever a house collapsed, a new one was build on top of the ruins of the old one.
The deceased were buried inside the houses.
In the Troodos mountainsAt 7 o'clock we drive back towards Platres. More and more clouds obscure the sky, but the temperature is still very pleasant. Pleasant enough to have a late picnic at Alassa (between Limassol and Platres in the Troodos mountains) in the open air.
But at night we see the weather forecast, and we are in for some real bad weather. Temperature dropping, maybe even below freezing point and a lot of rain. And we were just getting used to walk in T-shirt and to the sunshine. Fortunately, we have not only come here for the weather, but mainly to see something of this beautiful island. We would enjoy it, with or without nice weather...

 


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