Selimiye Mosque is one of the most fascinating buildings in Northern Cyprus. It is also the largest building which survived so many centuries in Nicosia. As some sources say: it “may have been the largest church built in the Eastern Mediterranean in the millennium between the rise of Islam and the late Ottoman period”
The name “Selimiye” comes from the Greek words “Aiya Sophia” – Holly wisdom. This name was given primarily to the Byzantine church which was built in this location in the eleventh century. Even though there are no ruins of this church discovered, a manuscript reports its existence in this part of the city. The construction of the gothic church started in the 13th century during the Frankish period and lasted over 78 years. The orthodox church was turned into Mosque in Ottoman period after the year 1570.
Today the Selimiye Mosque in Nicosia opens for visitors all day long apart from the time of prayers. We were there in the middle of the day during a spring month in Cyprus. The sharp light falling from the large windows was enlightening burgundy carpet and green ornaments. The carpet silenced all the sound of the steps, so you could here only whisper of visitors. The silence only sometimes interrupted by indistinct pray and the brightness of the place created an unforgettable impression.
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