Our experience today was a great start to the trip- it included tours of the New City, Old City, and UNIC in Nicosia. During the New City tour, we learned about the architectural conflicts during the construction of the central plaza that connects the Old City to the New City. The architect decided to make the plaza modern, which received complaints and compliments regarding that aspect. Additionally, we explored the main streets to learn about the local businesses, which included shopping, restaurants, and lots of coffee shops! Cyprus culture includes sitting over coffee for a lot of conversations, in which a single cup can last hours. A few others and I decided to try this experience for ourselves during free time, and we loved the summertime lattes, mochas, and lemonades.
Next, we visited the University of Nicosia to better understand our program and our expectations as members of a study abroad program through the University. Here, we also learned about the history of Cyprus and the many empires that had a major influence on its culture. These included the Romans, Ottoman Empire, and lastly the British before Cyprus gained its independence in 1960. However, due to internal conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, the Turkish now control around a third of the country.
Lastly, we toured the Old City, and learned about the major architectural influences of the nations that controlled Cyprus. For example, houses built during the Ottoman Empire consisted of small, one-way windows and closed-off balconies. This is because citizens felt unsafe during this era and would hide in their houses. The closed-off balconies allowed for the people to see outside onto the streets, while others were unable to see into their house. Then, houses built during the British era transitioned into having open balconies, large windows, and glass doors once the people of Cyprus began to feel safe again to interact with the outside world.
To finish off the night we had a Greek dinner at a local restaurant Kathodon Tavern, where we experienced a series of small plates throughout the night including several meats, fried cheese, salads, and pita. I also had my favorite experience of the day here, where a stray cat was friendly enough to jump into my lap! I guess one can expect this where the cat population outnumbers the human one.