Selimiye Mosque

Nicosia, Cyprus

Selimiye Mosque, also known as Agia Sofia Cathedralm, is the largest and oldest surviving gothic church in Cyprus possibly constructed on the site of an earlier Byzantine church. The building belongs to the pure Gothic style of the beginning of the 12th century. Due to the building’s large scale, lack of money and various historical events it took 150 years for the cathedral to be built and still, it was never completed since the southwest tower and the portico’s upper floor were not constructed.

The cathedral’s first construction phase began during the first years of Frankish rule (possibly in 1209) and by 1228 the eastern part of the building was completed. By the end of the 13th century the side aisles and a large part of the middle aisle were completed. From 1319 to 1326 the Latin archbishop of Nicosia Giovanni del Conte or Giovanni de Polo was responsible for the completion of the middle aisle, the construction of the roof buttresses, the cathedral’s façade and the building of a chapel (which functioned as a baptistery) in the western part of the southern wall. He also adorned parts of the cathedral with frescoes and sculptures. In November 1326 the cathedral’s official inauguration took place.

Even though the cathedral was inaugurated, the building was still incomplete and in 1347 Pope Clement IV issued a papal bull for the cathedral to be completed and renovated since it had been affected by an earthquake. It was during this construction period that the building’s portico and the northwest tower were constructed. The western wall’s three entrances are decorated with important examples of architectural sculpture. The main entrance’s frame bears impressive sculptures. Three of the four arches are decorated with reliefs depicting kings, prophets, apostles and bishops.

With Nicosia's occupation by the Ottomans (1570), the cathedral of Agia Sofia was turned into a mosque and two minarets were added onto the building’s west part. The cathedral’s rich sculptural decoration was destroyed and so were the frescoes, the sculptures and the stained glass decoration (vitraux) depicting scenes from the Old and New Testament. Funerary tombstones of various Lusignan kings and princes were also destroyed.

In August 1954 the monument was renamed the Selimye mosque in honor of sultan Selim II (1566 – 1574) who ruled at the time of Cyprus’ conquest by the Ottomans.

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Address

Selimiye SK, Nicosia, Cyprus
See all sites in Nicosia

Details

Founded: c. 1209
Category: Religious sites in Cyprus

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Robert Sar (12 months ago)
Main mosque of Turkish Part of Nicosia with stunning architecture. Former Catholic Cathedral turned into a Muslim place of veneration. Both, male and female tourists are allowed to enter the shrine.
Petriş Denisa (13 months ago)
Absolutely stunning architecture which is totally worth a visit. Next to the mosque you can attend a live Swirling Dervish performance every 2-3 hours that will introduce you to the Dervish culture core principles, as well as to the meaning of every movement depicted in the act of swirling. I definitely recommend it.
Derya Mohr (13 months ago)
Architecturally an interesting combination of east and west
Erolski Creative (13 months ago)
If you visit North Cyprus, The Selimiye Camii area is a culturally vibrant and bustling place to visit in Lekosa. There is some much history in every little details wherever you look. There is also some much creativity from the newer generations with wonderful coffee shops, interior design and furniture designs companies/ shops. The people are warm and welcoming wherever we went. Now the food
Linda Wilding (2 years ago)
A beautiful building and so quiet. And peaceful. Go prepared. You need something to cover up with ladies. There are clothes at the door to cover up with if not but it is a mosque and shoes must be removed at the door.
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