Hala Sultan Tekke or the Mosque of Umm Haram is composed of a mosque, mausoleum, minaret, cemetery, and living quarters for men and women. The term tekke (convent) applies to a building designed specifically for gatherings of a Sufi brotherhood, or tariqa, and may have referred to an earlier feature of the location. The present-day complex, open to all and not belonging to a single religious movement, lies in a serene setting on the shores of the Larnaca Salt Lake, which appears to be an important site also in prehistory.
During the second half of the second millennium B.C, the area of the Hala Sultan Tekke was used as a cemetery by the people who lived in Dromolaxia Vizatzia, a large town a few hundred metres to the West. Radar surveys have demonstrated that the city was one of the largest in the Late Bronze Age (roughly 1600-1100 BCE), maybe as large as 50 ha. Another archaeological investigations conducted by the Department of Antiquities under the women's quarter of Hala Sultan Tekke have revealed building remains dated to the late Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic periods (6th - 1st century BC). Several finds indicate that the site might have been used as a sanctuary but the limited scale of the investigations precludes definite conclusions about its use.
Most accounts establish a connection between the site and the death of Umm Haram during the first Arab raids on Cyprus under the Caliph Muawiyah between 647 and 649, which were later pursued throughout the Umayyad and the Abbasid periods. According to these accounts, Umm Haram, being of very old age, had fallen from her mule and had died during a siege of Larnaca. She was later buried where she died. According to Shia belief, her grave lies within Jannatul Baqi cemetery in Madinah, Saudi Arabia.
During the Ottoman administration of Cyprus, a mosque complex was built in stages around the tomb. The tomb was discovered in the 18th century by the dervish called Sheikh Hasan, who also built the first structure here. Dervish Hasan managed to convince the administrative and religious authorities of the site's sacred nature and with the permission he received, he built the shrine around the tomb in 1760 and had it decorated. The wooden fences around the tomb would have been built by the 19th-century Ottoman governor in Cyprus, Seyyid Elhac Mehmed Agha, which were replaced by fences in bronze and two doors by his successor Acem Ali Agha.
In another account, Giovanni Mariti, who visited Cyprus between 1760–1767, wrote that the shrine was built by the Cyprus governor he names as Ali Agha. According to Mariti, until 1760 they used the stones of a standing church in a ruined village nearby as construction materials. In another source, it is mentioned that the construction of the mosque was initiated by the Cyprus governor Seyyid Mehmed Emin Efendi in classical Ottoman style, and it was completed in November 1817.
Above the entry gate to Tekke garden is an Ottoman inscription dated 4 March 1813. Sultan Mahmud II's monogram appears on both sides of the inscription and reads, 'Hala Sultan Tekke was built by God's beloved great Ottoman Cyprus governor'. The garden itself was designed by a pasha and came to be known as 'Pasha garden'. The complex of buildings adjacent to the Tekke was known as 'Gülşen-Feyz' (the rose garden of plenitude or of enlightenment). To the north (left) of the entrance there used to be a guesthouse for men. On the right side of the entrance, there was another guesthouse of which one block was reserved for men (Selamlik) and the other for women (Haremlik). It was a custom for visitors to take the oath of dedication to serve the Hala Sultan Tekke if their wishes were realized. The domed mosque is square-shaped with a balcony and was built in yellow stone blocks. The minaret was repaired in 1959.
Umm Haram's tomb is located behind the mosque wall of the qibla (in the direction of Mecca). A further inscription dated 1760 is found here. Aside her, there are four other tombs, two of them former sheikhs. Another important tomb is a two-leveled marble sarcophagus, carrying the date 12 July 1929. The tomb belongs to Adile Hüseyin Ali, who was the Turkish wife of the Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca of the Hashemite House, himself a grandson of the Ottoman grand vizier Koca Mustafa Reşid Pasha and a descendant of Muhammad. At the eastern corner of the mosque and the Tekke, there is a cemetery, which was closed to burials at around 1899. A number of past Turkish administrators are buried here.
Opposite the mosque, there is an octagonal fountain, which was built around 1796-1797 by the then governor of Cyprus Silahtar Kaptanbaşı Mustafa Agha. The information on the construction is recorded on the marble inscription located on the fountain. On another inscription dated 1895, which was recently discovered in the Tekke's garden, it is written that the infrastructure for bringing in the water was built upon the instructions of the Sultan Abdülhamid II.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.