Sinan Pasha Mosque was built around 1360 (originally as Christian Church of Saints Peter and Paul), supposedly with a third of the profits of a single trading venture of one of Famagusta's wealthiest businessmen, Simon Nostrano. it is one of the largest of the Gothic cathedrals in Famagusta, and is similar in design to St George of the Greeks, which was built around the same time.
Because of its massive height, the church walls had to be supported by flying buttresses, but perhaps shallow foundations, perhaps earthquakes meant that a further row of buttresses had to be constructed on the southern side in the 16th century, giving the church a unique appearance. Even now, if you look along the line of the wall, you can see it bowing outwards.
It is thought that the building became disused during the Venetian period, as it escaped the attention of the Ottoman bombardment of the city in 1571. After their conquest, the Ottomans took over the church as a mosque, naming it the Sinan Pasha Mosque. They added a minaret, to the south west corner, but that broke off centuries ago, and it now reaches no further than roof level. In fact, if you look at the minaret, it still shows signs of an imminent collapse.
During the British time, the mosque was used as a potato and grain store, leading to it being known locally as the 'wheat mosque' (Bugday Cami). It was further used as a store for redundant council equipment. In 1934 it was a petrol store. By 1964 it had been converted into Famagusta's town hall and library. Records from 1968 has it as a cafe, bar and dance hall. It is currently closed pending renovation.
In the southern courtyard, underneath the second row of buttresses, you will find the grave of Yirmisekiz Celebi, who was a renowned diplomat, serving as the Ottoman ambassador to France, but died in exile in Cyprus in 1732.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.