Work crews on Sunday began to pour around 3,000 cubic metres of concrete into the moat that is to join Solomou and Eleftheria squares into a larger area.
The pouring of the cement began early on Sunday and was due to be completed early on Monday as as almost 300 trucks arrived at the scene in turn to offload their contents into the moat.
The entire area has been closed off until the work is completed, probably early Monday.
A special ceremony attended by Nicosia Mayor Constantinos Yiorkadjis was held to mark the event as scores of the capital’s residents turned out to watch.
One Nicosia resident who took a stroll to see what was happening, said around one third of the work had actuallty been completed before midday. “Most of the area was fenced off but there was a lot of curiosity,” he said. “The mayor seemed to be a buoyant mood.”
Responding to criticism about the amount of concrete being poured into the centre of the capital, Yiorkadjis countered that plenty of trees would be planted in the area.
The complex project was designed by world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid.
After many delays, it is expected to be completed by September 2016.
Yiorkadjis, in his official address at the ceremony, said the concrete pouring was the most crucial phase in the implementation of a project that had been worked on by two of his predecessors, Michalakis Zampelas and Eleni Mavrou.
He also thanked Zaha Hadid’s office and Lois Builders for the “excellent cooperation”.
“Despite the complications and problems encountered in this process, I think at this stage we have every right as Nicosians to feel proud and happy,” he said. “We are entering the final stretch.”
He added that he believed that when the project was finished the initial investment would be multiplied. “This investment will lead to the revitalisation of the city centre,” said Yiorkadjis. “It has also created jobs in a difficult time for the construction industry, but more importantly it will become a magnet that will help to support small and medium sized businesses in the area.”
Project architect Christos Passas, representing the Hadid firm, said in his address that the aim was to bring the city centre into the 21st century.
The new square would connect the area’s natural and architectural aspects to provide better freedom of movement and access, while offering at the same time a dynamic recreational space with regard to the environment and culture “a Cyprus past and future”, and a landmark and gathering place for Nicosians and visitors.
“But the work is not over,” he added. “We still have some way to go in the coming months,” Passas said. He mentioned facilities, fountains and greenery.
“I hope this project is the beginning of a comprehensive effort for the whole perimeter of the walled city, and the beginning of a new era,” he added.