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Cyprus

The rich history of Nicosia

The Medieval walls of Nicosia

Cyprus is an island steeped in history and next weekend its role in the Medieval world will be on show with the hosting of the first Medieval Nicosia festival. What would a meal in medieval Cyprus involve? How did Cypriots dress in the middle ages? These questions will be answered while a tour of the capital will explain which are the era’s most important buildings and tell stories of the island’s mighty kings.

The festival is a great way to mentally escape to another world, that of knights, kings and queens, fiefdoms, and of course commandaria, as the three-day festival aims to reveal and promote the city’s rich medieval past.

“Giving the island’s capital its own medieval festival has been an idea of tour guide Titina Loizidou, whose long-time dream was to showcase the medieval character of Nicosia,” Antigone Heraclidou of the Nicosia Tourism Board, event organiser, told the Sunday Mail.

“We wanted to showcase the rich medieval history of Nicosia that saw many conquerors, the Franks, the Venetians, the Ottomans,” she said.

As part of the festival a number of events have been organised.

On Friday, Dr Rita Severis will give a tour of medieval Nicosia for participants to discover the capital’s “hidden treasures and beauties”. Following the walking tour, the curator of the Leventis Municipal Museum, Elena Poyiatzi-Richter will also give a tour of the medieval exhibits of the museum. A treat awaits participants as commandaria will be served at the museum’s courtyard.

The distinguished Professor Peter Edbury, who has written several books on medieval Cyprus, will be the key-note speaker at the conference Nicosia: the Gothic Capital of Cyprus, which will take place at Kasteliotissa Hall on Saturday.

Other renowned academics will also present their work on Medieval Nicosia. Presentations include Nicosia’s defence system during the Frankish and the Venetian period, 1192-1570, the capital’s burgesses – the social and legal class – during the period of the Lusignan rule (1192-1473), and their presence and activities in Nicosia. Another paper by Severis will present Nicosia through the eyes of travellers – pilgrims, merchants, nobles, and men of the cloth – between the 13th and 15th centuries.

Later the same day organisers promise “an exquisite banquet inspired by medieval cuisine” on the roof garden of the Centre of Visual Arts and Research (CVAR). The price is €30 and it includes a choice of four main dishes, salads, rice, pies and desserts.

Foodies will have the opportunity to discover dishes eaten in that era, but with a little twist as they have been adapted to the modern times. “They used to eat raw meat a lot,” Heraclidou said. The recipes were created based on the findings of Dr Severis on the culinary habits of medieval Cypriots.

Among the dishes are “whole sumptuous piglets with crunchy skin”, chicken in pomegranate juice, and squid and calamari with spices, currants and almonds.

Following a sumptuous meal, Angel’s food will be served, which is made with ricotta cheese, honey, sugar and orange flower water. The menu also includes preserved and fresh fruit.

During dinner, the Commandaria Orchestra will perform, while the venue will be decorated with furniture inspired by medieval times.

On Sunday, there will be a guided bus and walking about tour of Fikardou village, an old settlement that has retained its traditional medieval characteristics and is a Unesco site.

Booking is required for all the events. For further information go to Facebook/Visit Nicosia and www.visitnicosia.com.cy, Tel: 22 889704, or e-mail [email protected]

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