Atatürk Square, Nicosia

Atatürk Square, Nicosia

Ataturk Square was named in honor of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founding father of modern Turkey. The change was made by the municipal authority of Nicosia, led by Themistoklis Dervis. It is said Mr. Dervis was fishing for the Turkish Cypriot vote. But locals still refer to the square as "Sarayonu", meaning "the front of the palace."

The palace is gone. It was the royal French residence of the Lusignan dynasty. The Lusignans ruled Cyprus until the 15th century, when the island was annexed by Venice. The Venetians erected a granite column surmounted by a lion in front of the palace.

The column was believed to have been taken from the old Temple of Zeus at Salamis. The Ottomans arrived in 1570. They stored the column in the Sarayonu Mosque, which had been a Carmelite church. The lion of the Crusaders was replaced by a British globe when it was moved to the Square in 1915.

The fountain at the square by the law Courts was built in the Ottoman period. It is octagonal in shape with one fountain in a niche on each side. It is maintained by the Turkish Cypriot Department of Antiquities, but it ran dry long ago.

The central Law courts, the Nicosia Post Office, a police station and several banks are around the square. The old palace is gone, razed by the British. However, there is a hotel, also called Saray. You can go to its rooftop restaurant, have a drink and enjoy a view of the entire city.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Nicosia. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Atatürk Square on Map

Sight Name: Atatürk Square
Sight Location: Nicosia, Cyprus (See walking tours in Nicosia)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Nicosia, Cyprus

Create Your Own Walk in Nicosia

Create Your Own Walk in Nicosia

Creating your own self-guided walk in Nicosia is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Nicosia Shopping Tour

Nicosia Shopping Tour

Nicosia, being the capital of such an exotic country as Cyprus, couldn't be a better shopping spot for tourists. Offering a traditional Turkish market, folk art, crafts and fashionable shops and boutiques, Nicosia has something for everyone. Take this self-guided tour to discover the best of Nicosia shopping.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
Turkish Old Town Walking Tour

Turkish Old Town Walking Tour

Nicosia wasn't always Nicosia. It was originally called Leukosia. In Greek mythology Leukosia was a siren, a daughter of Achelous, a river god, and Melpomene, Muse of Tragedy. They had several daughters, Leukosia was one.

Others say the first settlers were Achaean veterans of the Trojan War. They appeared on the plain of Mesaoria by the river Pedieos in 2,500 BC. They formed the city...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
Greek Old Town Walking Tour

Greek Old Town Walking Tour

Nicosia is Cyprus’s capital and its largest city. It is Europe’s last divided capital, with Turkish Cypriots living on the north side and Greek Cypriots living on the south side.

Nicosia has been continuously occupied for over 4,500 years and has been Cyprus's capital for over 1,000 years. It has a turbulent political history, and the Franks, Venetians, Ottomans, and British have...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles