Hala Sultan Tekke - World Heritage Site
January 13, 2023

Hala Sultan Tekke - World Heritage Site

Over the years, several cultures have made their stamp on the island of Cyprus, and we can see evidence of this in the structures, landmarks, and more. Hala Sultan Tekke is a landmark in Cyprus, one of the most important Muslim monuments and place of worship in Cyprus and one of the most important in Islam.

About six kilometers west of the Larnaca Salt Lake, Hala Sultan's Tekke is situated in a lovely position, two kilometers outside of the city of Larnaca, across from the old international airport of Larnaca, and surrounded by pine, eucalyptus, cypress, and primarily palm palms. A stunning structure, with the dome and minaret dominating this unique setting. It is a noteworthy Muslim landmark that draws several tourists each year, especially during the Muslim holiday season. It is not only the most significant pilgrimage site for Muslims in Cyprus, but it also ranks third in importance for the entire Muslim world, behind Mecca and Medina. In fact, a true Muslim must have visited all three of the above locations in addition to Jerusalem in order to be prepared to enter heaven, according to Muslim belief.

There is a tomb inside the Hala Sultan Tekke that, according to tradition, belonged to Umm Haram, one of Muhammad's earliest adherents and one of those who supported him in his early endeavors. Umm Haram, who had traveled to Cyprus with her husband as part of an Arab raid, died instantly after falling from her horse as soon as she touched down on the island. A three-stone construction surrounds the tomb, which is draped in it. According to tradition, one of the stones, exactly the one that covers the body, floats over the other two stones.

The Hala Sultan Tekke mosque was constructed just before 1787, and it assumed its present shape around 1816. The mosque is in great shape now, especially after the restorations performed at the Cypriot government's expense and the most recent restoration, financed by the American Organization UNOPS through the United Nations (USA ID UNOPS), which took place between 2001 and 2005. Additionally, its gates are embellished with numerous, well-preserved Arabic inscriptions that include significant historical dates and Koranic dedicatory phrases.

The beautiful pink flamingos visiting the Salt Lake in Larnaca, near the Hala Sultan Tekke mosque.The beautiful pink flamingos visiting the Salt Lake in Larnaca, near the Hala Sultan Tekke mosque.

The beauty of the surroundings is inspirational, but so is the majesty of the monument. Following the paved path, eventually a gate is reached, where steps descend to the main entrance of the tekke, which was formerly a Muslim monastic complex. A large doorway with Arabic writing at the top is notable. The guest rooms of the women-husbands, who occasionally serve as mosque sheikhs, are on the right. The sheikh's own rooms are at the left. There is a low wooden peristyle and a covered terrace in each room. The office of the antiquities guardians of the monument can be seen in the backdrop to the left.

The gardens are crossed to get to the peristyle taps and purifying bottle, while having the mosque on the right. The seats made of wood that round the hexagonal pavilion were constructed in accordance with a pertinent inscription from the Turkish Bank of Cyprus. The faithful must wash their hands, face, neck, hair, and feet before entering the mosque to pray. After removing their shoes at the door, they can enter the mosque.

The carpet in the mosque is warm to the touch, and the walls and dome are mostly painted white. There is no painting and no representation of a living being, as usual. The mihrab is situated directly across from the niche in the limestone wall which is the direction to Mecca, the Islamic religion's final prophet Muhammad's birthplace. The minbar is located across to the right. It has climbing green wooden steps that represent heaven and lead to a podium-like structure with a pointed canopy that ends in a crescent. When looking up, the dome and the eight arabesques at their bases are visible.

Eight wooden, octagonal tablets were found with Arabic writings on them, mentioning Allah, Muhammad, his family, including his grandson Hussein and daughter Fatima and her husband Ali, as well as other names from the Koran.

Facing the entrance with the mihrab behind, there are the steps leading to the women's restroom on the right. This is where women are during prayer. The expansive marble tomb of Queen Hatidje, the wife of King Hussein of Hejazi, is visible in the enclosure to the left. Four more tombs with a wooden, green cover that stick out further down, to the left and to the right, are thought to belong to honored individuals. While exiting the mosque, to the left, there are some findings from the sixth century. The remains of a Late Bronze Age Cypriot city can be found 800 meters west of the mosque.

Worth mentioning is of course, the Larnaca Salt Lake, which is close to the Hala Sultan Tekke and was recognized as the 1081st wetland of international significance by the Ramsan Convention. It draws a lot migratory birds, including flamingos which make up a fascinating view, especially when the sun sets down.

Hala Sultan Teke is one of the main tourist attractions of the province of Larnaca with great historical significance.