CATHEDRAL St SOFIA / SELIMIYE MOSQUE

 St. SOFIA / SELIMIYE

N° 50 b
Town / Village : Nicosia

District : Nicosia

 

DESCRIPTION :

The Latin Cathedral of St. Sophia (Selimiye mosque) is possibly constructed on the site of an earlier Byzantine church. The cathedral’s first construction phase began during the first years of Frankish rule (possibly in 1209) and already by 1228 the eastern part of the building was completed. By the end of the 13th century the side aisles and a large part of the middle aisle were completed.

From 1319  to 1326 the Latin archbishop Giovanni del Conte (or Giovanni de Polo) was responsible for the completion of the middle aisle, the construction of the roof buttresses, the cathedral’s facade and the building of a chapel (which functioned as a baptistery) in the western part of the southern wall. He also adorned parts of the cathedral with frescoes and sculptures. In November 1326 the cathedral’s official inauguration took place. The building was stll incomplete and in 1347 Pope Clement IV issued a Papal bull for the cathedral to be completed and renovated since it had been affected by an earthquake. It was during this construction period that the building’s portico and the northwest tower were constructed. The western wall’s three entrances are decorated with important exemples of architectural sculpture. The main entrance’s frame bears impressive sculptures. Three of the four arches are decorated with reliefs depicting kings, prophets, apostles and bishops.

Due to the building’s large scale, lack of money and various historical events it look 150 years for the cathedral to be built and still, it was never entirely completed since the southwest tower and the portico’s upper floor were never constructed.

During the Ottoman Period, the cathedral was turned into a mosque and two minarets were added onto the building’s west part.

In 1954, the monument was renamed to Selimiye mosque in honor of sultan Selim II (1566-1574) who ruled at the time of Cyprus’ conquest by the Ottomans.

 

 

Period :  13th century – 14th century

 

OUTSTANDING VALUE :

The cathedral of St Sofia is one of Cyprus’ most important Gothic monuments. It is the oldest and largest (interior dimensions 66 x 21 m) Gothic (pure Gothic style of the beginning of the 13th century) church in Cyprus.

 

 

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NEWS / THREATS

In 1988, following a study by architect UNDP expert D.Demi, restoration work was undertaken on the cathedral’s exterior south and west sides.

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