April 5, 2013

0586 NORTH CYPRUS - A gothic mosque in Nicosia

Shortly after they conquered Cyprus, the Crusaders began construction of a cathedral in Nicosia in a pure Gothic style, but lack of money has slowed much the work, so the building was inaugurated only in 1326 and never really finished. 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 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 to Selimye mosque in honor of sultan Selim II who ruled at the time of Cyprus’ conquest by the Ottomans.

The two tall minarets of the Selimiye mosque form a very prominent landmark in Nicosia. Coming down from the mountains on the Kyrenia road, and just before reaching Geunyeli, one can pinpoint Nicosia by these twin towers. The monumental main door and the carved stone window above it are of particular interest. Within its portals, Lusignan princes were crowned kings of Cyprus before proceeding to Famagusta for a second, essentially honorary, coronation as king of Jerusalem.

About the stamp 

The stamp is part part of a series of fourth, dedicated to Rauf Denktaş, the founding President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Sender: Filiz Yüzbaş (direct swap)
Sent from Girne (North Cyprus), on 25.02.2013
Photo: Tevfik Ileri

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