Hz. Omer Tomb in Kyrenia, North Cyprus.
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Hz. Omer Tomb


Hz. Omer Tomb
photo by: Ersin Taser
[ enlarge photo ]

There can be few more picturesque places to be buried than on a rocky headland overlooking the North Cyprus coastline and the Mediterranean sea beyond, the waves almost lapping at your feet. The small Hazreti Ömer mosque and tombs house the remains of a 7th century commander and his men. Hazreti Ömer and his men died defending North Cyprus from Arab raids during the reign of the Omayyad caliph, Muaviye. Evidence suggests that there may well have been a pagan shrine on the site before the tombs were constructed. A tekke or convent was established around the holy tombs, equally respected by both the Orthadox and Muslim communities before 1974.

Situated on a pretty headland just 4km east of Kyrenia, the whitewashed tombs contain the mortal remains of seven Muslim saints. Extensively renovated during the 1950s, the tomb’s interior today is a curious mixture of tomb and library; the walls are hung with tapestries of Mecca and rugs, with piles of books on the floors.

Quite what the holy residents of the Hazreti Ömer Tekke would think of their nearest neighbour in North Cyprus, a go-kart track, we can only guess at! These important Muslim tombs in North Cyprus are signposted just before the go-kart track, and opening hours do vary. The pretty cove to the west is a military area, and the elegant villa there that used to belong to a friend of author Lawrence Durrell is now the North Cyprus Turkish ambassador’s residence.