Urban development

Within the Walls

At the time of the British occupation, Nicosia was still contained entirely within its Venetian Walls. The city was full of private gardens and amply supplied with water carried to public fountains through aqueducts, but the streets remained unpaved and just wide enough for a loaded pack animal.

In 1881, macadamised roads were completed through the city to connect with the main roads leading to the coastal towns. It was not until after World War I that the first roads were asphalted. The narrow streets with overhanging kiosks were made darker by the awnings, tourathes, rigged up by the shopkeepers to protect against sun and rain.

Beyond the Walls

A series of openings in the Walls provided direct access to areas beyond the Walls as they grew in importance. The first opening was carved through the Paphos Gate in 1879. The most famous opening was across a wooden bridge at the top of Ledra Street- the Limassol or Hadjisavva opening, now called Eleftheria Square- which linked the city to government offices in 1882.

In June of that same year, the municipal limits were extended to “a circle drawn at a distance of five hundred yards beyond the salient angles of the bastions of the fortifications”.

An opening was made at the Kyrenia Gate in 1931, after one of Nicosia's first buses proved too high to go through the original gate. Many more openings followed. The prosperous 1920s resulted in elegant villas lining the main roads out of the old city, alongside the colonial residences already built there.

During the post-war period the villages around Nicosia began to expand. By 1958, they had been swallowed up by suburbia. Only Strovolos and Aglandja remained as separate physical entities, chiefly because of the state-owned land separating them from the city.

By this time, the old city was increasingly given over to shops and workshops. In residential terms, it had become a lower income area. Old people tended to stay in the old city, building houses for their daughters outside the Walls.