The Selimiye Mosque - St. Sophia Cathedral
The cathedral is noted as being the largest and the finest
temple, and the most important Gothic structure in
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.
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 cathedral was constructed
by French architects and craftsmen and it is a beautiful eaxample
of medieval French architecture.
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.
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.