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:
The Château d'Olhain is probably the most famous castle of the Artois region. It is located in the middle of a lake which reflects its picturesque towers and curtain walls. It was also a major stronghold for the Artois in medieval times and testimony to the power of the Olhain family, first mentioned from the 12th century.
The existence of the castle was known early in the 13th century, but the present construction is largely the work of Jean de Nielles, who married Marie d’Olhain at the end of the 15th century.
The marriage of Alix Nielles to Jean de Berghes, Grand Veneur de France (master of hounds) to the King, meant the castle passed to this family, who kept it for more than 450 years. Once confiscated by Charles Quint, it suffered during the wars that ravaged the Artois. Besieged in 1641 by the French, it was partly demolished by the Spaniards in 1654, and finally blown-up and taken by the Dutch in 1710. Restored in 1830, it was abandoned after 1870, and sold by the last Prince of Berghes in 1900. There is also evidence that one of the castles occupants was related to Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan, the person Alexandre Dumas based his Three Musketeers charictor d'Artagnan on.
During the World War I and World War II, the castle was requisitioned first by French troops, then Canadian and British soldiers. The current owner has restored the castle to its former glory.