Lala Mustafa Paşa Mosque

Standing formidably in the centre of the old city’s walls, this building, built by the Lusignans between 1298 and 1312, is one of the most beautiful Gothic structures in the Mediterranean. The imposing edifice, formerly known as the St. Nicholas Cathedral, boasts two tall towers, one topped with a minaret, which can still be seen from miles away despite having suffered some damage from earlier battles and earthquakes. One of the original stained-glass windows also remains: the six-part rose window high above the western-facing façade. This main façade, which gazes across the old city’s main square, may look familiar, as the design was originally based upon the Gothic Rheims Cathedral in France. The Lusignan kings would visit this church to be coroneted King of Jerusalem, once they had been crowned in the capital city.

The cathedral was turned into a mosque in 1571 by the building’s namesake Lala Mustafa Paşa, the man who conquered the city that same year – it now also contains a small shrine and an Ottoman tomb dating from 1700. It is a vast airy space, enhanced by its white-washed walls, that bestows a great sense of calm and lightness to its visitors. It is also said that the old East African fig tree at the entrance of the mosque was planted in 1250 and could therefore be the oldest living tree in Cyprus! The 16th century Venetian gallery, also in the courtyard, is today used as a reservoir for ablutions.

When visiting the mosque, please ensure to respect the modest dress code which includes removing shoes, covering legs (men and women) and a headscarf for women – the curator can also supply the correct attire if you forget to bring your own.