Sultan Mahmud II Library in Nicosia, North Cyprus.
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Sultan Mahmud II Library


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The Sultan Mahmud II Library lies at the back of the former St Sophia cathedral in North Nicosia, now the Selimiye Camii mosque. The library was named after Sultan Mahmud, the 19th century ruler who ordered its construction, although the library itself was actually founded by the Ottoman Governor Ali Ruhi, in 1829.

A Library Without Books?

You enter the library through tall, impressive doors past Greek marble columns into a large square room, its walls lined with bookcases from floor to ceiling. However, it appears that many books are in the process of being stored offsite, so the shelves may not actually have any books on them. Should you be able to see the books, they would be leather-bound Turkish, Arabic and Persian works, many of them very rare and precious. Also in the library collection are manuscripts and good examples of Turkish and Persian calligraphy.

A gilded ceiling rail runs under the domed roof, and has an inscription of a poem dedicated to the sultan. The library also gives you a great view of the back of the mosque, and the elaborate doorway that is not longer used.

Your entrance ticket to the Library also gives you free entry to the Lapidary Museum, a worthwhile saving for your North Cyprus holiday sightseeing fund!