27 Pieces of Awesome Street Art from Nicosia, Cyprus (Photo Essay)

The street art in Nicosia is beautiful and vibrant.
The street art in Nicosia is beautiful and vibrant.

Street Art, a Love Story

One of my favorite posts I’ve done was this one on the street art of Montevideo, Uruguay. I focus mainly on urban travel (with a slice of beach), but not every city has such fantastic pieces everywhere you look. Since I spent the last ten years living in Philadelphia, a city with a phenomenal street art scene, I get delighted when I see good work.

Street art can come in many forms: commissioned murals, graffiti, posters, installations, stickers, stencils, sculptures. Basically it can be any media that fills up the public spaces of a city with vibrancy and life.

When you photograph street art in a city, you start to see themes, patterns, signatures that show there’s one collective or one artist behind several across the space you’ve covered. It’s exhilarating. Some of my favorite connections with people who I’ve made have been from sharing the street art I appreciate on Instagram and getting feedback from the artists or people who recognize them. It’s really rewarding to be able to send a street artist you admire your photograph of their work-giving back to the people who make urban spaces so rich.

No Borders means something different when your city has a literal border cutting it in two.
No Borders means something different when your city has a literal border cutting it in two.

The Street Art of Nicosia: Speaking out in a Divided City

I haven’t covered my time in Nicosia yet, but if you follow me on social media, you’ll have seen pictures and discussions about which Nicosia I am in. There is a UN buffer zone splitting northern Cyprus from the rest of the country. I’m still mulling the politics of all of it. Before you get here, guidebooks mention the separation, but mainly in a “how will it affect you, the tourist” way.

Being here, I see that how profoundly it affects the people of Cyprus and yet, how in how many ways it doesn’t. Some of my favorite pieces here deal with the divide in either a direct or abstract way. And beyond that, the act of claiming a public space as your own for artistic expression, in a city with guards and checkpoints and passport controls is a heady thing. Life here is like everywhere else, but at the same time you can look up at the mountains and see a giant flag of the self-declared  Northern Cyprus staring down at you.

Corrupt politicians depicted sawing Cyprus in half for their own devices.
Corrupt politicians depicted sawing Cyprus in half for their own devices.

My Favorite Pieces:

When I pulled my photos to make this, I had over a hundred different examples that I liked. Here are my favorite of my favorites, trying to mix up styles, media, parts of the city, etc.

 

Parking Garage Street Art in Nicosia
Parking Garage Street Art in Nicosia

 

Exhibition Poster in Nicosia up long after it's Expiration Date
Exhibition Poster in Nicosia up long after it’s Expiration Date

 

Grafitti in an industrial alleyway in Nicosia
Graffiti in an industrial alleyway in Nicosia

 

Cyprus is across the Mediterranean from Syria and has many cultural ties. Pro Syrian Refugee graffiti is common.
Cyprus is across the Mediterranean Sea from Syria and has many cultural ties. Pro Syrian Refugee graffiti is common.

 

A mural outside a cafe in Nicosia
A mural outside a cafe in Nicosia

 

Different forms of street art in Dimotiki Agora in Nicosia
Different forms of street art in Dimotiki Agora in Nicosia

 

Street art decorating a garage next to an art collective in northern Nicosia
Street art decorating a garage next to an art collective in northern Nicosia

 

A homemade No Parking Sign in Nicosia
A homemade No Parking Sign in Nicosia

 

One of many similar pieces around Nicosia - this one is by the main Orthodox Church
One of many similar pieces around Nicosia – this one is by the main Orthodox Church

 

A commissioned piece showing the pride and highlights of northern Nicosia. Nicosia is also called Lefkosia. Lefkosa is the Turkish name for the city.
A commissioned piece showing the pride and highlights of northern Nicosia. Nicosia is also called Lefkosia. Lefkosa is the Turkish name for the city.

 

The artist and/or collective has posters on many bus stops around Nicosia. This one is near my apartment.
The artist and/or collective has posters on many bus stops around Nicosia. This one is near my apartment.

 

A mural adorning a cafe in Nicosia
A mural adorning a café in Nicosia

 

A tag in Dimotiki Agora
A tag in Dimotiki Agora

 

Lefkosia (Nicosia) in Greek. Near the Byzantine Museum in the Old City in Nicosia
Lefkosia (Nicosia) in Greek. Near the Byzantine Museum in the Old City in Nicosia

 

A collection of different stencils and graffiti in Nicosia
A collection of different stencils and graffiti in Nicosia

 

Found on the way to Ledra Street in Nicosia
Found on the way to Ledra Street in Nicosia

 

More from Dimotiki Agora
More from Dimotiki Agora

 

A cafe mural with motorcycles
A cafe mural with motorcycles

 

Near the Eleftheria Freedom Monument
Near the Eleftheria Freedom Monument

 

The hardest to get-it's behind a tree by where teens sneak cigarettes and there's a too friendly dog. But it was worth it.
The hardest to get. It’s behind a tree by where teens sneak cigarettes and there’s a too friendly dog. But it was worth it.

 

Another piece from Northern Cyprus in north Nicosia
Another piece from Northern Cyprus in north Nicosia

 

There's something eery about graffiti that's on the inside of a building.
There’s something eery about graffiti that’s on the inside of a building.

 

 

Another artist who's work is in evidence all over the Old City in Nicosia
Another artist who’s work is in evidence all over the Old City in Nicosia

 

A Freddie Mercury stencil in North Nicosia
A Freddie Mercury stencil in North Nicosia

 

Further Reading

  • For more examples of street art in Cyprus, check out this awesome website on Street Art in Cyprus. It’s *mostly* in Greek, but you can go through lots of cool examples (I didn’t see any duplicates) without needing to read Greek.
  • My Cyprus Insider has a post on Must See works around the island. Again, I didn’t spot any duplicates, so definitely check it out if you want more.
  • Wild Junket has another collection, and these all seem different than my examples and the ones on the above websites. I’m telling you, there is so much street art for such a small island.
  • Finally, here’s an reader letter in the Cyprus Mail about a Nicosian street artist named SYD whose work focuses on tearing down the border in the city. He’s also tagged in London, and his work has won acclaim there.

What’s your favorite city for street art?

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