Folk Art Museum of Cyprus

Trip Start May 27, 2012
Trip End Jan 22, 2013

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I am visiting the Folk Art Museum this morning. I prefer to walk so I am out after breakfast. I had a rough look on the map and more or less I know where it is.

I reach the Museum 20 minutes later on foot and the Museum is next to Archbishop's Palace.

The building itself is originally 15th century gothic with latter additions and it used to be a Monastery.

It was originally used as a monastery for the Latin Order of Benedictines and was taken over by the Greek Orthodox Church sometime before the Ottoman occupation in 1571. It went on to become the Archibishop’s Palace prior to the building of the new Archbishopric nearby.

The door is carved stone archway with a 16th century fresco of the Annunciation, and it is supposed to be the oldest fresco of the city.


What the visitor sees here is a vast collection of everyday items from a forgotten era. The collection is rich and it is split in different rooms. This is where you will find the costumes of the people; the looms used to weave their fabrics; pottery; furniture –often beautifully carved and painted in bright colours; decorative baskets that were used for different things; Jewellery and other metal work including the most intricate filigree work. There are samples of embroidery as well.

A stroll out here makes the guest feel as if he enters a time-machine that takes him back to Nicosia, a century and a half back. This is how I felt anyway.

You see, 150 years back the people of Cyprus were still under the yoke of Ottoman rule and the majority of them were extremely poor. A completely different picture of what we have nowadays, with

very few shops –mostly artisans’ workshops such as cobblers, tailors, furniture-makers, candle-makers, tinsmiths and small foundries that produced farming implements and household utensils. Most people lived off the land.

After paying a tenth of their produce and feeding their families, they traded whatever meager surplus they had in order to acquire the few other basic essentials they could not produce for themselves.  It was a way of life that had existed throughout 2.000

Start counting the years of hardship and occupation ….well, Cyprus

has been occupied by Rome, Byzantium, the Lusignans, Venetians, the Ottomans and later the British.

As with every nation that is subjected to foreign domination, Cypriots had a strong desire to retain their national, cultural and artistic identity.

Of course, elements of the styles and artistry of the occupier of the time were slowly incorporated into the local identity but this only served to enrich it in a way that made it into something unique.

Men used to work the land while women would spend whatever spare time they had weaving, sewing and embroidering for their family and trousseaus for their daughters.

They were extremely adept, producing pieces of incredible beauty, often from materials such as silk, cotton and wool that they had gathered, spun, woven and dyed themselves.

In the city, the artisans were mainly men. There were potters and coppersmiths: those that specialized in leather-goods; knife-makers; jewelers, woodworkers and stonemasons.

Nicosia those days was also famous for its weekly Women’s Bazaar, where the wealthier 'town’ ladies could buy cloth, handmade lace and other haberdashery items.

I found the visit remarkably interesting and I can say that it did travel me back. I took several photos which I wish to share with you.

When I showed my VT Press Pass I had access to the Old Archbishop’s Palace prior to the building of the new Archbishopric where tourists are prohibited to enter.

It was indeed a privilege for me.

Tel: +357 22432578
Opening Hours-Tuesday to Friday 09:00 to 16:00
Saturday: 09:00 to 13:00
(On Mondays the Museum remains closed)

So, come along, let me show you around.

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