Selimiye Mosque (St. Sophia Cathedral)

Posted in Places to See


Directly influenced by the Gothic architecture of France, the cathedral was built in the reign of Lusignans. Started in 1208, the construction took 118 years to complete and was finally finished in 1326, when it was opened to religious service with a ritual ceremony. The cathedral was of great importance as Lusignan kings were crowned here. 

The cathedral was damaged by the attacks of Genoese in 1373, and in several earthquakes between 1491 and 1547. After the Ottoman conquest in 1571, two minarets, a mimbar (pulpit), and a mihrab were added to the building, and it was adapted as a mosque which was named ‘Aya Sofya Mosque’. In 1954, it was renamed after Sultan Selim II, the conqueror of Cyprus, as ‘Selimiye Mosque’.

 Among the most important examples of Gothic sculpture surviving on the island are the frames of the three doors of the western pro pylon of the building. These are decorated with a large number of blind arches adorned with anthemia and natural motifs.