Sinan Pasa Mosque in Famagusta, North Cyprus.
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Sinan Pasa Mosque
(St. Peter & St. Paul Church)


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Inside the walls of old Famagusta, or Kaleici as the locals call it, lies the 14th century church of St Peter and St Paul. The church was supposedly built with the profits of one single deal by a wealthy Famagusta merchant, one Simon Nostrano, and was originally dedicated to St Catherine. The church escaped major damage during the Ottoman siege of Famagusta in 1571, as the invaders restored the building and converted it into the Sinan Pasa Mosque. You can still see the remains of a minaret, clinging to the southwest corner.

History of St Peter and St Paul Church in Famagusta

St Peter and St Paul is a tall church that stands proud, its heavy flying buttresses supporting its walls as they have done since its construction in 1360. However, its history in Famagusta has been less secure; the British used it as a grain store, when the building was nicknamed the "Wheat Mosque" or 'Bugday Camil'.

From mosque to library

In 1964, the Sinan Pasa Mosque was converted again to become Famagusta's town hall, then the Famagusta public library, a haven of peace and quiet within the city walls where generations of school children came to do their homework. The north doorway still has a coat of arms above it, although this stonework and thirteenth century door were probably brought from another church. Inside, the somewhat plain interior of the former Sinan Pasa Mosque is impressive because of its size and height, similar to the great Refectory Hall in Bellapais Abbey near Kyrenia, North Cyprus.

In the mosque courtyard outside is the tomb of Mehmet Chelebi, a renowned literary diplomat who served at the Turkish Embassy in Paris during 1720. He also served in Egypt and Istanbul before being dismissed and exiled to Nicosia. He died in Famagusta in 1732. Plays and recitals were staged at this fine building in Famagusta for a time, but at present the former St Peter and St Paul church is locked, undergoing "renovation".