Ottoman Landmarks in Cyprus
Büyük Han (The Great Inn)
It was originally built in 1572 by Beylerbeyi Muzaffer Pasha. It was the first and most important landmark to be built in Cyprus during the Ottoman period. During the British occupation, it was used as a prison between 1878 and 1893. After the completion of renovation works in 2002, it was reopened to the public as a centre for culture and arts.
Kumarcılar Hanı (The Gambler’s Inn)
It was constructed near the end of the 16th century and has undergone many name changes over time before taking on its current name. Completely built out of yellow sand stones, it has two floors with arched vaults leading to an open courtyard in the middle. It was originally used for storage and to keep animals. The top floor, much like The Great Inn, has a number of rooms. It went through some alterations between 1953-1963 and was taken into the Turkish side of the island after 1974. Between 1976 and 1991 it was used as a department building for old landmarks and museums. Under a private owner by the name of Aziz Kent, restoration of The Gambler’s Inn began in 2005.
Arab Ahmed Mosque
It was built in the name of Arab Ahmed Pasha in 1845 in a classic Ottoman style. The main hall is square in shape and has one large dome on top, with the three smaller domes at the front. Medieval gravestones can also be found in its cemetery and a place for washing is also present in its garden. Four-time grand vezir of the Ottoman Empire Kıbrıslı Kamil Pasha and the former governor of Cyprus Ishak Pasha are buried here.
Its construction was sponsored by Sultan Mahmut II between 1820 and 1824 in the name of Ali Pasha. During the Ottoman period, it was used by the residing governor. For unknown reasons it collapsed in 1902 and was rebuilt under its new name by head of the Evkaf Musa Irfan Bey in 1903. Nowadays it is also used as a registry office for marriages. Its ceiling is made from wood and its minaret is in a classical Ottoman style. Its pointed horseshoe arches give it an Indian, African and Spanish character.
According to the inscription of the front of the mosque, it was built by Seyit Mehmet Agha in 1825. Stretching between its east to west sides, it is designed as a rectangle. It has six pointed arches resting on columns on its front side, and four on its western side. The mosque is enlightened by 30 windows. On its north-east side a minaret is found, decorated with four rings.
During the conquest of Cyprus by the Ottomans, the conquering of Nicosia depended on breaching its city walls. On the 9th of September 1570, the Ottoman flag bearer succeeded in places his flag on top of the wall, but was also martyred in doing so. He was buried in the spot where he fell, and in 1754 Vali Hasan Sadik built this mosque near his grave. Greek terrorist group EOKA destroyed the mosque in two bomb attacks in 1962 and 1964, however, after agreements between the Turks and the Greeks, this mosque, which remained on the Greek side of the island, was rebuilt and opened in 2003.
The Aziz Efendi Tekke
The tomb and shrine (tekke) of Mufti Aziz Efendi is located at the south eastern part of the municipal market. It was built as a tomb in the memory of Aziz Efendi, who died in the 1570-1571 conquest of Cyprus. At that time, Aziz Efendi was as the mufti of the army which came to conquer the island. During the siege of Nicosia by the Turkish army, he was killed in fighting by the Venetians near the Ayia Sofia Cathedral. This shrine was built by the command of Sultan Selim II.
The Mevlevi Tekke
It was made at the beginning of the 17th century. As many Turkish Cypriots were originally from Konya (the hometown of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi), they opened this Tekke to promote his teachings and lifestyle. The shaykhs of the Tekke would be buried in back rooms. Currently it is used as a museum, displaying Mevlevi clothing, musical instruments and ethnographic items.
Dervish Pasha Mansion
This mansion was home to the owner of the first Turkish Cypriot newspaper, the Zaman Gazete, Dervish Pasha. This two-storey building was built just like a typical Ottoman mansion. The ground floor is made from stone, the top floor is made from mud-brick. Its construction date is not known exactly but the year 1869 is written on the ceiling. It has been used as an ethnography museum since 1979.
Sultan Mahmut II Library
It was built by Ali Ruhi Efendi during Sultan Mahmut II’s reign in 1829. On an inscription on stone Sultan Mahmut II is mentioned with words of praise along with his name signed in a tughra style. The word “mashallah” is written on marble slabs on the building’s north, south and west sides. It contains around 1700 books. The famous poem praising Sultan Mahmut II written by the Turkish Cypriot Mufti Hilmi Efendi is also found in the library.
The Kirklar Tekke
It is located about 10 miles east of Nicosia. It was built in 1816. It is believed to host the graves of 40 dervishes. It was managed by the Shaykhs of the Nakshibandi Order.
Peristerona Mosque and School
It was built in the Peristerona village in the 18th century and had additions made to it in the 19th century. Some say it was built in 1837, others in 1875. It has a double balcony on its minaret. There is also a school near the mosque. The well known Imam Osman Ragıb El-Ezheri Efendi who died in 1943 is buried here. Its minaret was destroyed in a bomb attack by Greek terrorists in 1963.
The Hala Sultan Tekke
This is considered to be a sacred site by Muslims. Whilst accompanying her husband on a conquest lead by Mu’awiyah, Umm Haram, the foster aunty of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) became a martyr after falling off her horse. She was buried where this tekke is now located. Its building was commissioned by Shaykh Hasan in 1760. The mosque and washing area was later added. It is still located on the Greek side of the island in the city of Larnaca near the Salt Lake.
The Great Mosque
It was built by Seyit el-Hajj Mehmet Agha in 1835.
Built by the Ottomans in 1625. It was built on the site of an old fort originally erected by the Lusignan King James I in the late 14th century. Some sections of the old fort were incorporated into the new one. During the Ottoman conquest, the old fort was abandoned by the Venetians and taken over by the Ottoman forces who used it as a base for their soldiers. After it fell to ruins, the Ottomans rebuilt it. It was later used as a prison by the Ottomans and the British. In 1948 it was turned into a museum and to host cultural events.
Ebu Bekir Pasha Aqueduct
When Ebu Bekir Pasha arrived for his governance duty in Cyprus between 1746 and 1748, on entering Larnaca he noticed women carrying heavy jugs of water from a source 10 kilometres away. Feeling sorry for the women, he decided to build this aqueduct to bring water directly into Larnaca. When he learned that he wouldn’t be sent enough money to build the structure, he established a foundation with his own money to raise funds for it. It was used until 1939.
Zuhuri Tekke and Mosque
The building has two parts, one is a mosque and the other is a shrine. It has two domes at the top. The top half of its minaret has collapsed. A part of the structure has been used as a library since 1965.
The Paphos Castle is found near the port in Paphos. Originally it was the Byzantines who built the castle to protect the port. After the castle was destroyed in an earthquake in 1222, it was the Lusignans who repaired it. In 1570 the Venetians completely demolished it, however, within the same year the Ottoman newcomers rebuilt it. It was once used as a prison, but now it is used as a museum.
Mehmed Bey Ebu Bekir Hamam
According to records, it was completed by Mehmed Bey Ebu Bekir on the 6th of November 1592, but it is believed to have been completed prior to that.
Köprülü Hacı İbrahim Ağa Mosque
This mosque which was built by Köprülü Hacı İbrahim Ağa in 1825 remained on the Greek controlled side of the island after the 1974 war. It is the secondary mosque of the city and is only opened for Friday prayers. On the 13th of April 2012, the mosque was burned and vandalised by Greek Cypriot extremists.
The Great Mosque
This mosque has two com partments. It was built by Mestan Ağa in 1829-1830 and was rennovated in 1906. Its north-eastern corner rests on top of the ruins of an old church.
Piri Ali Dede Tekke
Piri Ali Dede was the first Ottoman soldier to place the Ottoman flag in Cyprus. The tekke is by the coast, south of the Leftari castle. For a long time this building was uncared for, and as a result many of its rooms became ruins. The grave of Piri Ali Dede is within the compound. Normally it is only visited on Fridays and other holy days. Despite being on the Greek controlled side of the island, it is being looked after by the Turkish Cypriot Religious Affairs Department.
Canbulat was a soldier in the Ottoman army. As the Ottomans were engaged in a fierce battle of Famagusta, he was beheaded by a sword. It is believed that after losing his head, he picked his head up from the ground, held it under his arm and continued to fight. His grave his located on the spot where he was martyred and the castle contains many ehtnographic and archeologic exhibitions.
Kutup Osman Efendi Shrine
Found near the Namık Kemal College, this site was established by the founder of the Halveti religious order in Cyprus, Kutup Osman Fazullah Efendi. He was the son of Shaykh Fazullah Efendi. Born in Bulgaria, he went on to become a great scholar. He worked as an imam and a teacher in the palace of Sultan Mehmet IV. In 1690 he was sent to Cyprus where he died one year later. In 1824, Elhaç Seyit Mehmet Ağa built a mosque near his grave.
Right next to the Lala Mustafa Paşa mosque, the graves of Mehmet Ömer Efendi and Mustafa Zühtü Efendi can be found along with the Madrasah (school).
The Kertikli Hamam is from the sixteenth century and was built shortly after the Ottoman conquest. Its six domes are still in tact.
Ağa Cafer Pasha Fountain
The Ağa Cafer Pasha Fountain is found in the north-western corner of the Namık Kemal square. It is decorated in typical Ottoman fashion. It is believed to have been built in 1597 to bring water to the city. Ağa Cafer Pasha governed the city in the 16th and 17th century, and was known for his hard work in water management. This fountain is no longer in use.
Ağa Cafer Pasha Mosque
This mosque was built by Ağa Cafer Pasha in 1589. The Hasan Kavizade Hüseyin Efendi Fountain is found at the northern compartment of this mosque. The writings on it are from the year 1841.
The writings on this fountain are the words of Hasan Kavizade Hüseyin Efendi. Its transciption reads: "Bihamdillah muvaffak etti Bari, Bu ab-ı dil-kuşayı kıldı abad, Rızaenlillah içün sahibü'l-hayrat, İmameyn aşkına eyledi icad, Sahibü'l-hayrat ve'l-hasenat" - Hasan Kavizade Hüseyin Efendi, Fi 15.N (Ramazan), Sene 1257 [31 Ekim 1841]
Hazreti Omer Shrine
It is found 4 miles from the Kyrenia town centre along the coast. It is the burial place of 6 Arab Muslim soldiers who fell martyr there during their conquest of Cyprus in the 7th century. The bodies of these soldiers were discovered during the Ottoman conquest in a cave, and they were later buried nearby. The mosque and shrine were built later.