Spend a few hours in Chrysalinitiossa and you’ll soon realise why it’s now one of the most popular spots in the capital, with the historic area having witnessed a rather exciting revival over the past few years. Graceful old buildings with the most magnificent courtyards have been transformed into fashionable bars, coffee shops are fusing the hip with the traditional, brunch time fancies lure hungry diners into trendy eateries, museums tell colourful tales of days gone by, and workshops give you a taste of all things crafty and cool. Yes, our love for the neighbourhood is growing by the day and My Cyprus Insider is here to let you in on all the fabulous things you can do in the area.
1. Sip on an early coffee in traditional fashion at Kafenion Odos Oniron
Both traditional and arty at the same time, this coffee shop sees young and old mix and mingle, with the warmer months witnessing crowds congregate outside on the paved street. Come winter, people fill the indoor area with various live music nights bringing the place to life, while various artists also showcase their works on coffee shop walls.
2. Learn a new skill while socialising at Hobby Lobby
Want to learn how to knit or crochet? Then Hobby Lobby is the place to be, right next door to Kafenion Odos Oniron. A place where people who love to get creative meet and share ideas, you can enjoy knitting workshops on specific days, while you can also get hold of yarns, tools and supplies!
3. Take in a dose of history and culture at CVAR
Situated right on the fast changing Ermou Street, the building – which was once a khan and then a flourmill – has been transformed into a centre of culture and research with over 1000 works of art housed on four floors; from the works of artists travelling to Cyprus during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, to hundreds of Cypriot memorabilia and dozens of Cypriot costumes from the days of old.
The Centre of Visual Arts and Research (CVAR) is also home to a research centre, a café, a restaurant and lovely roof garden which hosts all sorts of events.
4. Indulge in homemade produce at Apomero café
Head down to Apomero for a real taste of tradition. A family run place, it offers a good bit of peace and quiet, with wooden tables and chairs strewn across the street. The cosy atmosphere is perfect for a catch up with friends or rendezvous with a loved one.
“It was my dream to bring a touch of tradition to the world,” says the 70-year-old Androulla who runs the show and always had plans to open up a place she could call her own. Her children are also on board, all having worked together to decorate the café adorned with old black and white photos and traditional knick-knacks. But what’s really superb here, are the home made pastries and sweets, from olives pies to galaktopoureko (custard pie) straight out of the oven.
5. Take some photos of the area’s great buildings and doorways
A good walk around the area is inspiring to say the least. The architecture of the vicinity is stunning and the doorways of the houses make for some really great photographic material. As one of the most historically interesting areas of Nicosia, examples of traditional bourgeois architecture of the 18th century onwards abound.
Be sure not to miss Chrysaliniotissa Church, a rather impressive building that is considered to be Byzantine, but was extended in the 15th century. Also take a good look at the Nicosia Youth Hostel, overlooking the church with its Gothic arched windows.
Then there’s the equally impressive Axiothea mansion, just a stone’s throw from the church, and standing as one of the most characteristic examples of urban architecture of the 18th century.
6. Buy something trendy at Suvenir
Hands down the coolest boutique in the area, Suvenir is a really funky yet minimal and contemporary space where you can find a wide range of clothes and accessories by Cypriot and Greek designers. Conceived by Alexia Kirmitsi, designer of the Hysteria Asteria brand, the distinctive character of this concept store beautifully enriches the aesthetic of the area.
7. Tuck into a healthy bite at Inga’s Veggie Heaven
This isn’t a new kid on the block, but it’s a real goodie. Set within the grounds of the Chrysalinioitissa Craft Centre (with creative types specialising in traditional crafts), Inga keeps busy in the kitchen dishing up fab nutritious and delicious veggie treats. Whether you want breakfast, lunch or a simple drink and little nibble, this daytime place lures in a stream of regulars that makes Inga’s Veggie Heaven a popular place year in and year out. Keep in mind that the joint is closed on a Sunday.
8. Indulge in some modern art gazing at Is Not Gallery
Is not gallery is a great modern space tucked away in this quaint neighbourhood that celebrates fine and applied arts, and promotes new and innovative works of young Cypriot and European artists. Head to the gallery and there will be much to set your sights on, with a whole host of regular alternating group and solo exhibitions, from sculpture and photography to painting and multimedia.
9. Kick back in a sun drenched courtyard at Ermou 300
Whether you fancy a drink or nibble, you can do it in glorious style in this fabulously converted old building, specialising in Cypriot cuisine with a twist, and great cocktails to wash it all down. Days at Ermou are casual in the outdoor courtyard, while if you head inside for dinner, the dim lighting and industrial chic décor make for a fine dining experience.
10. Ogle at some history at Famagusta Gate
If you want to seep up the past in all its glory, make a beeline for Famagusta Gate. A glorious sandstone gate which once led into the old city, it stands as the largest and most imposing of the three gates of the Venetian Walls which surround the old city of Nicosia, built between 1567 and 1570 by the ruling Venetians, and designed by the famous engineer, Giulio Savorgano.
11. Take in the cool vibe at D.O.T
Once you’ve seeped up the grandeur of Famagusta Gate, step across the street to enjoy a cool cafe and restaurant named D.O.T with an interior that’s to die for. With tables and chairs that spill out onto the pavement, you can expect a mix of industrial chic with a vintage flair and period furniture giving it a real edge. There are goodies to eat whatever time of day you visit, from brunch to lunch and dinner.
12. Watch a performance at Theatro Ena
This is a great little theatre that has been drawing in theatre loving crowds since it first opened its doors in 1987. Mid November will see the 1931 American Pre-Code horror film, Dr Jekyll and Mr.Hyde, come to life on the Theatro Ena stage.
13. Indulge in fine food & wine at Caraffa Bastione
For some fine tipple steeped in history, head straight to Caraffa Bastione, a swish and glamorous bar/restaurant that oozes class, nestled within the stone arches of the striking Venetian walls that surround the old town running adjacent to Famagusta Gate. Feeling hungry? The menu combines typical Mediterranean flavours with an adventurous twist, with fresh seasonal produce tantalising the taste buds.
14. Wash away the stress of the day at Tsipouraki Mezedaki
As the name suggests, this place is all about meze dishes, drawing on the traditional concept of a Greek Tsipouradiko; a place for tsipouro (a strong Greek spirit) and meze. With wooden tables and chairs strewn across the pavement outside Tsipouraki Mezedaki, the interior is just as charming, filled with all sorts of bric-a-brac; small and cosy it oozes warmth that’s perfect for autumn and winter evenings. And to add to the charm, the place hosts traditional musicians for rembetika nights which create a real buzz. Just choose the Greek meze dishes you fancy – from dips like tyrokafteri and melinzalosalata, to mains like kontosouvli – and enjoy as you cheers the night away!
15. Rock till the wee hours at Ermou Rock Bar 261
Luring in a stream of regulars for the past 13 years, Ermou has worked up quite a reputation over the years as an after-hours bar, with the young and young at heart heading here after a wild night out. But things are a little different now, with crowds congregating on the high tables across the road from the main entrance, sipping on their favourite beer from early on in the evening.
Cover photo: Tsipouraki Mezedaki