A cultural route in Nicosia

A cultural route in Nicosia

I went to Turkish Cyprus for the first time in my life last year thanks to a travel project by daily Hürriyet. 

Until that day, Cyprus made me think of tourism from gambling and the beach. However, after having been there, I realized there is a particular reason to visit the island—its historical heritage.

In line with the island’s richness, the Turkish Prime Ministry’s Directorate General of Foundations has also designed an alternative tourism route on the island. This tour, called “Nicosia: Foundation City,” is actually a call to action.

This directorate and the Union of Turkish Tourist Guides’ Chambers has been working since 2014 to shed light on the hidden stories of foundations. It shares the information in their archives with the Tourist Guides’ Chambers of Istanbul, Ankara, Trabzon, Antalya and Bursa and tries to deliver these stories to the masses.

A similar event with the Turkish Cypriot General Directorate of Foundations led to a realization that Cyprus is actually a “Foundation Island.”

As a result of meetings with the Association of Turkish Cypriot Travel Agencies, the Cyprus Turkish Tourist Guides Association and the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies, it was understood that there needed to be an alternative way to fulfill the island’s need for a qualified cultural tour.

“Foundation City: Nicosia” involves all the locations that have hosted civilizations that form the basis of the island.

It involves not only the Ottoman Empire, but also the Venetians, the Lusignan and the Byzantine. It includes the Selimiye Mosque, which is known as the Hagia Sophia of the island, since it had been turned into a mosque from a cathedral, as well as inns, hamams, the historic building of the Directorate of Foundations, the Venetian Column and houses dating back to the Lusignan period.

With its 26 locations, the touristic route aims to demonstrate the unique richness and history of the foundations with all these unique examples.

Discount on museums and restaurants 

The General Directorate of Foundations has prepared this tour with the contribution of professional associations and the Turkish Cypriot General Directorate of Foundations. During the announcement of the project, the Deputy Prime Minister Hakan Çavuşoğlu said their objective was to build cultural tourism not based on information alone, but on experience.

For example, “if there is a fountain pouring from a foundation somewhere, we want tourists to be able to wash their hands in it,” he said.

The first tour along this route will start on April 15, when Tourism Week begins in Turkish Cyprus.

The entry fee for five museums on this route has been reduced to 10 Turkish Liras ($2.57) in total. Two restaurants along this route have reached an agreement for a 30 percent discount.

This route will only be led by guides who are certified tour guides who know the foundation’s concept. Certified guides will also be able to take advantage of the discounts on this route. The Turkish Prime Ministry’s Directorate General of Foundations and the Turkish Cypriot General Directorate of Foundations have provided training courses to 50 professional guides. Their training will continue until April 15 and additional seminars will be organized based on whether there is demand later.

After April 15, the “Foundation City: Nicosia” route will be included in package tourism programs that come to the island from Turkey. After this date, foundations will no longer be involved and the tour will be sold by travel agencies.

This way, Nicosia will now be an alternative cultural route in tourism programs.

Turkish Cyrpiot, opinion, public diplomacy,