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Guides > Mosques > Agha Cafer Pasha

In a cobbled street running to Kyrenia Harbour, this mosque is named after an Ottoman Governor who donated the land where it's built.

 

It was built in the 1580’s, although some claim it was converted from a Lusignan warehouse.

 

The cut stone rectangular construction has 3 main rooms and a single minaret  and is still used today.

Southeast of the mosque is the Hasan Kavizade Huseyn Efendi fountain, built in 1841. The northern face has 3 arches, typical of the Ottoman design of the time.

 

In the middle arch there's a marble inscription crescent, a coat of arms and branch figures carved into the stonework.

Agha Cafer Pasha Mosque North Cyprus

Guides > Mosques > Arapahmet Mosque

Built in the 16th century on the site of an old Latin church, it's named after Arapahmet Pasha who was one of the commanders of the 1571 Ottoman expedition to Nicosia and the Governor General of Rhodes. In the Arab Ahmet Quarter of Nicosia it's the only mosque in the city with a classical Ottoman dome plus 3 smaller domes to protect its entrance and 4 more at the corners.

 

Outside is a garden with a fountain, cypress trees and graves including that of Turkish Cypriot Mehmet Kamil Pasha, born in Nicosia in 1833. He became Grand Vizier in the Ottoman empire, the only Cypriot ever to do so. In 1913, Kamil Pasha unexpectedly died of syncope (fainting) and was buried in the court of the Arab Ahmet Mosque. 

 

Sir Ronald Storrs, British Governor from 1926 to 1932, produced a memorial to be raised over Kamil Pasha’s grave for which he also composed the English inscription, carved on the headstone. It reads, “His Highness Kiamil Pasha, Son of Captain Salih Agha of Pyroi, Born

Arabahmet Mosque in North Cyprus

in Nicosia in 1833, Treasury Clerk, Commissioner of Larnaca, Director of Evqaf, Four times Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire, A Great Turk and A Great Man.”  The site once hosted a Latin church, of which a few fragments still survive. A lintel from a door has a shield carved on it of two lions. 14th century gravestones of prominent Veneto families such as Francesco Cornaro (1390), Antonio de Bergamo (1394), and Gaspar Mavroceni (1402) also survive. Arab Ahmet was restored in 1845 and again in the 1990’s, and the mosque remains in use to this day.

Guides > Mosques > Hasan Kavizade Huseyin Efendi Fountain

In the quiet back streets of Kyrenia, lies this historic fountain. Square-shaped with a barrel vault and reservoir, it's southeast of the Agha Cafer Pasha Mosque.

 

Mosque visitors complete their ablution using this fountain, which is fed from a natural spring.

 

A marble inscription below the three arches of the fountain reveals it was built in 1841 during Hasan Kavizade Huseyin Efendi’s time.

In the middle arch a crescent, coat of arms and branch figures are carved into the stonework. The stone stairwells next to the fountain were built by the last Ottoman Provincial Governor, Cemal Bey and the last Ottoman Mayor, Abdul Efendi.

Hasan Kavizade Huseyin Efendi Fountain in North Cyprus

Guides > Mosques > Hadar Pasha Mosque

Originally built as St Catherine Church by the Lusignans in the 14th century, it was the second largest church in Nicosia at the time. The Gothic flamboyant style of southern France makes it the finest example of this design on the island, and the most notable Lusignan monument in the capital after St Sophia.

 

In 1570 the Ottomans converted St. Catherine’s into the Haydarpasa mosque. It's also been known as “Ağalar Camisi”, meaning “the Mosque of the Lords”, when it was largely frequented by Turkish aristocracy living nearby. A  minaret was the tallest slender tower in Cyprus until 1931.

 

Struck by lightning, it had to be demolished and was replaced by a shorter version with 3 entrances. The south entrance is a masterpiece of stone carvings of Lusignan insignias on its frame, along with an ornamental poppy. The west entrance has its lintel decorated with carved roses and dragons. The north entrance is plain by comparison,

Haydarpasha Mosque in North Cyprus

with ornamentations of a nude woman holding a fish and dragon like effigies. Huge buttresses narrow as they rise and flank the windows, ornamented with lattice stucco, the roofline rimmed with gargoyles. The west facade has a Catherine window, shaped like a wheel. The building was part of a woman’s monastery during the Latin period, and the Ottomans added more features. Two Gothic arches support the vault, consisting of crossed ribs. In the apse, 6 ribs resting on a clustered column sprout from the keystone. North of the apse is a vestry, the vaulting of which is supported by corbels with carved human heads. Above, windows of chamber look onto the main church. Sir Harry Charles Luke, a renowned author and historian, described this edifice as “the most elegant and perfect Gothic building in Cyprus”. Across the church courtyard, you'll find the house of Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener who was assigned to conduct the first full triangulated survey of the island as a new British colony in 1878-1882.

Guides > Mosques > Iplik Bazaar Mosque

Two inscriptions above the entrance doors identify two differing periods of build. The initial construction was sponsored in 1826 by Hadji Ahmet Ahga, a governor of Cyprus and the last to hold the title of muhassilor tax-collector.

 

In its earlier days, the mosque was also known as ‘Muhassil Haci Ahmed Agha Mosque’. It's now known as the Iplik Bazaar Mosque, which references the cotton bazaar that was located here during the Ottoman period.The second inscription reveals the building was demolished and replaced in 1899 with the mosque that stands today, under the sponsorship of Muhammed Sadik Bey, a charitable foundation board member during British rule.

 

This work expanded the area’s mosque capacity to meet the requirements of an ever-increasing congregation. The minaret, which is accessible from inside the mosque, was retained from the original structure and is only one of two designs in Northern Cyprus that

Iplik Bazaar Mosque in North Cyprus

feature a stone conical top. The mosque’s architecture is utilitarian, rectangular and built of cut stone and rubble fillings.  Two arches support the wooden ceiling and the main room is illuminated by arched windows. A wooden staircase leads to an area for female worshippers. In the yard is a hexagonal water fountain built in the British period. The ground level of the yard rose so much in the 20th century, the taps of the fountain have been left under the surface. Two tombstones discovered next to the mosque indicate a small cemetery once existed next to it.

Guides > Mosques > Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque

Originally known as the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas and later as the Saint Sophia Mosque of Mağusa, this is the largest medieval building in Famagusta.

 

Built between 1298 and 1400, it was consecrated as a Catholic cathedral in 1328, converted into a mosque after the Ottoman Empire captured Famagusta in 1571 and it remains a mosque to this day.

 

From 1954, the building has taken its name from Lala Mustafa Pasha, the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire from Sokolovići in Bosnia, who served Murat III and led Ottoman forces against the Venetians in Cyprus.

 

Early history

The French Lusignan dynasty ruled Cyprus from 1192 to 1489 and brought with them French architecture, notably Gothic. Constructed from 1298 to 1312 and consecrated in 1328, a unique inscription on a

Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque in North Cyprus

buttress beside the south door records the progress of construction in 1311. The Lusignans would be crowned as Kings of Cyprus in the St Sophia Cathedral in Nicosia and then crowned as Kings of Jerusalem in the St Nicholas Cathedral in Famagusta. The building is built in Rayonnant Gothic style, quite rare outside France. The historic tie between France and Cyprus is evidenced by its parallels to French archetypes such as Reims Cathedral. Indeed, so strong is the resemblance, that the building has been dubbed "The Reims of Cyprus". It was built with three doors, twin towers over the aisles and a flat roof, typical of Crusader architecture. Sometime after 1480, a meeting chamber, known as the Loggia Bembo, was added to the south-west corner of the cathedral. Notable for its elaborately moulded entrance with slender pillars in marble, it’s in an architectural style that departs considerably from that of the cathedral proper. The association with the Bembo family, some of whom held prominent positions in Cyprus, is shown by their heraldic devices on the building. To enhance the Loggia, late antique fragments in marble, probably brought from Salamis, were placed as seats each side of the entrance.

Ottoman Era

The upper parts of the cathedral's two towers suffered from earthquakes, were badly damaged during the Ottoman bombardments of 1571, and were never repaired. With the Venetians defeated and Famagusta fallen by August 1571, Cyprus fell under Ottoman control, and the cathedral was converted into a mosque, andrenamed the "St Sophia Mosque of Mağusa". Nearly all statuary, cruciform, stained glass, frescos, and paintings were removed or plastered over, as well as most tombs and the altar. The Gothic structure was preserved however, and a few tombs can still be identified in the north aisle. In 1954, it was renamed the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque after the commander of the 1570 Ottoman conquest - infamous for the gruesome torture of Marco Antonio Bragadin, the Venetian commander of the city's fortress. Bragadin had surrendered the city following a brutal 10-month siege in which 6,000 Christian defenders held off an army of more than 100,000 Ottoman Turks. The Cathedral of St Nicholas was not widely emulated as far as can be judged from surviving buildings of the Lusignan period in Cyprus. However, in the 19th century the west portal and other details were copied directly in the Greek Orthodox church at Lysi. Famagusta Cathedral appears in several works of literature, including "Kuraj" by the Italian writer Silvia Di Natale, "Sunrise" by the British author Victoria Hislop and "In Search of Sixpence" by the Anglo-Cypriot author Michael Paraskos.

Guides > Mosques > Mawlana Shaykh Nazim's Dergah

Mehmet Nazım Adil, commonly known as Sheikh Nazim, was a Turkish Cypriot Sufi Muslim Sheikh and spiritual leader of the Naqshbandi tariqa

 

Prior to his passing in 2014, thousands of visitors visited him each month at his home and Dergah in Lefke, and international followers came to share in the blessings of this living Sufi Master. 

 

Nazim was regularly recognized among the world’s 50 most influential Muslims and has since been succeeded by his son Mawlana Shaykh Mohammad Adil Haqqani welcoming Sufi worshippers from near and afar throughout the year.

Visitors can stay at the Guesthouses with prior permission. Men can also stay at the Dergah, while women are accommodated at a hostel allocated, facilities being shared.

Mawlana Shaykh Nazim's Dergah in North Cyprus

Guides > Mosques > The New Mosque

The neighbourhood of Yenicami in Nicosia takes its name from a new mosque built out of the ruins of a medieval church. In the 14th century, Ottomans converted the Gothic cathedral which stood there into a mosque and it remained that way until 1740, when Menteszade Haci Ismail Agha, the first Ottoman chief judge in Cyprus, ordered the foundations be excavated in search of supposed buried riches. The excavations unearthed the mosque, which in turn collapsed, and Haci Ismail was executed, his tomb buried a few metres away from the wreckage site.

 

A new mosque was financed by the Menteszade family and this became the New Mosque or Yenicami as it's known locally.  Square in shape, it occupies part of of an old Muslim burial ground, where fragments of the original minaret and turret staircase of the gothic structure are still preserved. The surrounding burial ground is covered with ancient fragments used as tombstones, 4 of which belong to the Menteszade family and another to the famous Cypriot poet Hilmi Efendi who died in 1847.  An inscription above the arched entrance door is dated 1316 H from the Islamic calendar, the equivalent of 1899. The old minaret was demolished in 1979 because of its dangerous condition and replaced. The fountain in the courtyard has also been rebuilt to its original specification.

The New Mosque in North Cyprus

Guides > Mosques > Piri Mehmet Pasha Mosque

Initially a church, this historic building was twice converted into an Islamic house of worship. Travelling from the main road up towards the village of Lefke, you’ll come across this structure, also referred to Yukari Mosque and Minareli Mosque. The Byzantine Empire also known as the Eastern Roman Empire, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and stretched over the island of Cyprus.  During the Byzantium rule of Cyprus, the church of St George was erected at this site, the exact date unknown.


From the 7th to 10th century the island was repeatedly subject to Arab raids, after which this church was converted into a mosque, but over the years fell into disrepair from neglect. When the Ottoman Empire extended their stronghold onto the island in 1571 under the leadership of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, one of the empire’s Viziers, a high executive named Mehmet Bey was governor of the Paphos sancak, an administrative division of the Ottoman Empire, and

Piri Mehmet Pasha Mosque in North Cyprus

soon included the village of Lefke into this greater province. When in Lefke, Mehmet Bey spotted the neglected mosque and instructed it to be rebuilt, naming it after his grandfather, Piri Mehmed Pasha, an Ottoman Turk statesman and grand Vizier of the empire from 1518 to 1523.

The mosque is built on an octagon body in a typical Ottoman architectural style, with three arches at the front and five on the sides, while the front arches sit on columns. The mosque is also the only in Lefke which reveals a dome, built from hewn stone. In the gardens you’ll also come across two graves. The first, a spectacular illustration of an Ottoman tomb, belongs to another Vizier, Osman Pasha who died in 1839. Mystery surrounds his death, however one commonly believed tale reveals some insight. Osman Pasha arrived in Cyprus to collect taxes from the island. Naturally arriving by sea, he was welcomed at the port by some attractive Greek females who presented him with beautiful flowers. Soon after the greeting, Osman was taken ill in Nicosia, where doctors advised him to travel to Lefke, where the countryside weather and natural habitat would assist in his recovery. Even though he took this advice, nine days after arriving in Lefke, he passed away. Some say the flowers he was given upon arrival were poisoned.

 

His tomb was designed and built in Izmir, Turkey, by his wife, who later settled in Lefke. It's one of the best examples of an Ottoman tomb, its' artwork decorated with nature motifs. The mosque beside is sometimes incorrectly referred to as Osman Pasha as well. A second, though less spectacular tomb in the mosque garden is that of Huseyin Agha, reputed to have brought water to Lefke, building aqueducts interlinking with other towns in the district.

Guides > Mosques > Ramadan

Ramazan (Ramadan), is the fasting month for Muslims characterised by family gatherings, visiting the graves of loved ones and allowing the body and mind to cleanse themselves. Ramazan is the ninth month of the Islamic Lunar calendar and is classed as one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith. 

 

Physically healthy Muslims must abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and having sex between dawn and sunset for 30 days. It's a time for reflection; refraining from gossiping,lying or slandering; good deeds; generosity; thought for those less fortunate and a time to be more conscious of God’s presence.

 

Fasting during the day can be quite tough to start with, so it can be quite draining for those fasting, although it does become easier and the breaking of the fast with Sahur (morning) and Iftar (evening) becomes routine.

Ramadan in North Cyprus

Meals usually start with something light, such as soup, so as not to feel completely bloated too quickly. Towards the end of Ramazan in North Cyprus, preparations are made for hellim, olive bread and sweetbreads to take to friends and family as well as guests that might visit.  Mosques are visited for Sahur on the last day of Ramazan for prayers. Ramazan Bayram in North Cyprus (also known as Şeker Bayram) is the holiday given over to festivities such as full on Turkish pop star entertainment at the local hotels and restaurants, with families gathering to celebrate and shops often holding sales. Older generations are given upmost importance during this time by younger folk and sweets are given out to children. Depending on which day Şeker Bayram falls, there's a 3-4 day public holiday with government offices and banks shut for the whole period, while privately run businesses usually shut for at least two days. Iyi Ramazan Bayramlar.

Guides > Mosques > Selimiye Mosque

One of the most fascinating buildings in Northern Cyprus. It's also the largest building in Nicosia to have survived so many centuries.  It may well have been the largest church built in the Eastern Mediterranean in the millennium between the rise of Islam and the late Ottoman period.

 

The name “Selimiye” comes from the Greek words “Aiya Sophia” meaning "Holy wisdom". This name was given primarily to the Byzantine church built in this location in the 11th century. No ruins of this church have been discovered but a manuscript confirms its existence here.

 

The construction of the gothic church started in the 13th century during the Frankish period and lasted over 78 years. The orthodox church was turned into a Mosque in Ottoman times after 1570. Today the Selimiye Mosque opens for visitors all day apart from prayer times. Light falls from large windows to illuminate the green ornaments and burgundy carpet which absorbs the sound of footsteps leaving only whispers to be heard.

Selimiye Mosque in North Cyprus

Guides > Mosques > Sinan Pasha Mosque

The magnificent facade of this huge14th-century church gives you a great idea what Famagusta would have looked like when its churches and monuments were still standing. Behind the Venetian Palace in the town centre, you'll find the flying buttresses of the renamed Ottoman Sinan Pasha Mosque.

 

The foundations of one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Famagusta, the initial church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul were laid during the Lusignan reign of Peter I, 1358 – 1369, and funded byprofits from a trip to Syria by wealthy merchant Simon Nostrano. The church walls are supported by heavy flying buttresses to take pressure away from the interior vaulting, but only on the upper level. They, like the wall itself, are enormously thick, presumably to withstand earthquakes. Buttressing was added on the south side after two 16th century earthquakes threatened the building in its entirety making it less radiant than more delicately built French counterparts.

Sinan Pasha Mosque in North Cyprus

George H. Everett Jeffery who was the Curator of Ancient Monuments in Cyprus in the early 20th century described it thus: “Nothing could be uglier or more opposed to the beauty of true Gothic architecture than the exterior of this immense church.” The beauty of this church rests almost entirely in its refined and elegant interior. Gothic arches rise above the succession of bays from plain circular piers. From the abacus of each pier are 3 colonettes, merged into the wall. They rise to the clerestory level, fan out over the nave and create the cross vaulted ceiling. Remnants of Gothic sculpture, unidentified renaissance martyrdoms, and post-Renaissance maritime graffiti, all offer a rare insight into a period of wealth and influence in Famagusta. The building wasn't used during Venetian rule, and escaped the attention of the Ottoman bombardment of 1571. The Ottomans added a minaret and renamed it Sinan Pasha Mosque, after “Sinan the Great” who served 5 times as Grand Vizier in the Ottoman empire. During British rule, it was used as a potato and grain store and so is also locally referred to as the “Bugday Cami” (wheat mosque). In the southern courtyard, underneath the second row of buttresses, you'll find the grave of Yirmisekiz Celebi Mehmed Efendi, who was appointed as ambassador by Sultan Ahmed III to Louis XV’s France in 1720. He became known by the nickname Yirmisekiz (“twenty-eight” in Turkish), as he served in the 28th battalion of the first modern standing army in Europe. He died in exile at Famagusta in 1732.

Guides > Mosques > Turunçlu Mosque

Also known as the Fethiye, until recent times it was one of the most frequented mosques by tradesmen of the nearby markets in Nicosia. 

 

The current mosque stands on the site of a previous smaller masjid and has an L-shaped congregational area and wooden ceiling. A gallery supported by wooden columns is designated for women.

 

To the north, its facade consists of 6 tapered arches on circular columns and to the west 4 more tapered arches. Above the doorway an inscription shows the earlier mosque was demolished and built by Seyit Mehmet Emin Agha, Ottoman governor, in 1825. The governor also restored the Fethiye Children’s School next door after which it was given the name “Mekteb-I Irfan” or School of Enlightenment.

Turunclu Mosque in North Cyprus
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