Cornell University

This is a past event. Its details are archived for historical purposes.

The contact information may no longer be valid.

Please visit our current events listings to look for similar events by title, location, or venue.

In the Shadow of Gothic: Ottoman Mosque Architecture in Cyprus

Wednesday, September 15, 2021 at 4:45pm

Virtual Event

** Co-sponsored by Critical Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Studies (COPOS)

Constructed during the rule of the French Lusignan dynasty (1192–1489), the Gothic cathedrals and churches of Cyprus are famous for their pronounced Westernizing style, which reshaped and continues to distinguish their Levantine setting. Less well known, however, is the defining role these monuments played in Cypriot architectural history after the Ottoman conquest of the island in 1571, when most of them were converted into mosques.

This lecture by Ünver Rüstem (Johns Hopkins University) will examine not only how the Lusignan structures were repurposed, adapted, and perceived by their new users, but also—and more importantly—their impact on the many new mosques built on Cyprus under the Ottomans.

Whether in relation to Anatolia or other Ottoman-ruled Mediterranean islands, Cyprus is extremely unusual for its dearth of domed mosques in the traditional Ottoman mold, a situation that is all the more remarkable given that domical construction flourished in other kinds of Ottoman-Cypriot building. This apparent anomaly is an outcome of the visual and spatial dominance of the island’s converted churches, and in particular the cathedrals of Nicosia and Famagusta, which set a highly idiosyncratic standard of mosque architecture that held sway into the early twentieth century. For the island’s Muslims, the Gothic thus took on particular resonances associated with congregational worship, so that new mosques were typically built as rectangular halls spanned by lateral pointed arches and covered with gable roofs, a scheme whose basic outlines recall a vaulted nave.

Ünver Rüstem is a historian of Islamic art and architecture, with a focus on the Ottoman Empire in its later centuries and on questions of cross-cultural exchange and interaction. Cutting across media and genres, his research is concerned with elucidating the semantic range and functions of artworks in their political and social contexts. His book, Ottoman Baroque: The Architectural Refashioning of Eighteenth-Century Istanbul (Princeton University Press, 2019), examines how the Ottoman capital was consciously transformed through a new, internationally resonant style of building that sought to reaffirm the empire’s relevance on a changing world stage.


Dial-In Information

Registration is required for this virtual seminar

Google Calendar iCal Outlook
Event Type



Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Comparative Muslim Societies Program, Critical Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Studies



Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Gloria Lemus-Chavez

Contact Phone


Dept. Web Site

Open To


Recent Activity