Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque, Famagusta, Northern Cyprus

Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque, Famagusta, Northern Cyprus


If you leave the southern beaches of Cyprus and travel to “the North”, a northeast turn of the wheel (from Nicosia) may find yourself in the city of Famagusta on the eastern coast. As a side note, if you arrive in the “north” by car you will need special insurance purchased after crossing into northern Cyprus in Nicosia since not much of anything that takes place in the north is, universally and with little exception, recognized by the south. In the core of the ancient city inside the Venetian walls you will find Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque.

The city of Famagusta, founded in 300 BC, hit a turning point about 700 years later when it's natural harbour turned a “sleepy” village into one of the richest cities in Europe. Life centred around the cathedral, every thriving metropolis needs one. Venetian walls arose during the Venetian period (1489-1570) allowed it to remain a last stronghold against the Turks.

Lala Mustafa Mosque. Just another touristy cathedral, you say? Not quite.

This religious monolith has seen a lot of change, including itself, inside and out. Originally, built Byzantine 1298-1400, it's Christian glory days peaked with the crowning of the last kings of Jerusalem, the French Lusignans. Venetian rule fortified the medieval architecture with a typical, practically impenetrable Venetian wall, then came the Ottoman Turks.

Today, five hundred years after the typical smashing and looting of Christian icons, the interior is a hybrid of Middle Age Christian architecture with Muslim modifications. A monolith of a mosque still exists, externally retains the Gothic glory of the original Saint Nicholas Cathedral.

For another Christian cathedral converted to a mosque, check out Codoba, Spain where a Catholic Cathedral melds with a mosque.



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