Cyprus // Larnaka and around //

Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque

On the shore at the far end of the salt lake from Larnaka is one of the most important Muslim sites on the island, the Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque. With its elegant domes and minaret peeping out from a grove of palm and cypress trees on the shimmering edge of the lake (if you’re lucky the lake will be full of pink clouds of flamingos) the mosque is extremely atmospheric (hence its frequent appearance on tourist literature), only slightly marred by the distracting wind turbines waving to you from the hillside behind.

The reason for the mosque’s veneration is the presence of the tomb of Umm Haram, variously described as the friend or wet nurse of Mohammed. One of the earliest followers of the Prophet, the story goes that she accompanied an invading Arab force in 649 AD, was immediately thrown by her mule and was killed. A mosque was built on the site of her burial beneath, legend has it, stones from a prehistoric dolmen that stood on the spot. Entry to the mosque’s environs is through a couple of elegant gateways. Inside, the mosque is attractively human in scale, the floor lined with decorative prayer mats. In an alcove lie two tombs – one of Umm Haram, the other (introduced in 1930) of the grandmother of King Hussein of Jordan.