North Cyprus
Today is Wednesday, 13th December 2017

North Cyprus Nicosia

The Selimiye Mosque - The St. Sophia Cathedral

The cathedral is noted as being the largest and the finest temple, and the most important Gothic structure in Cyprus. It is said to have been constructed over a Byzantine church called Hagia Sophia on the same site. The construction was started by the Latin Archbishop Eustorge de Montaigu in 1208. It was consecrated in 1326 and opened to religious service. As it was the most important church of Cyprus the coronation ceremonies of the Lusignan kings were held here. The cathedral was restored by the Genoese in 1373, and by the Mamluks in 1426; it was damaged in several earthquakes. The eastern section of the cathedral was destroyed in eathquakes in 1491 and as it was being restored by the Venetians, the grave of an old Lusignan king (Hugh II) was uncovered. The corpse was well preserved with a crown on its head, and items made of gold and documents on it.

The Selimiye Mosque - The St. Sophia Cathedral, NicosiaThe Selimiye Mosque - The St. Sophia Cathedral, Nicosia

The cathedral was constructed by French architects and craftsmen and it is a beautiful eaxample of medieval French architecture. The cathedral has a monumental entrance. The carved windows above the entrance are examples of unequalled Gothic art. The Ottomans have built minarets over the two unfinished belfries on either side of the entrance. The inside of the cathedral comprises three aisles, six side sections and little chapels. The chapel to the north was dedicated to St. Nicholas, the ones to the south to virgin Mary and St. Thomas Aquinas. The part of the mosque reserved for women used to be the treasury. Many Lusignan nobilities and kings are buried inside the cathedral. The marble grave stones of these graves still constitute part of the floor tiles. The inscriptions and drawings on these have been well preserved since they are covered with rush mats, and people are not allowed in with their shoes on.

The Selimiye Mosque - The St. Sophia Cathedral, NicosiaThe Selimiye Mosque - The St. Sophia Cathedral, NicosiaThe Selimiye Mosque - The St. Sophia Cathedral, Nicosia

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