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Sultan Mahmut II Library

Nicosia, North Cyprus

The Sultan Mahmut II Library, Nicosia, North Cyprus
The Sultan Mahmut II Library

The history of libraries in Cyprus can be traced back to the city state of Soli, which had one of the earliest known public libraries on the island, with a temple priest in charge. In the Byzantine and medieval periods, libraries were associated with churches and monasteries.

The three century occupation of the Cyprus by the Ottomans represented a serious setback for libraries on the island, and most works of art were destroyed when the churches were converted into mosques. In the early part of the 19th century there was a revival with the setting up of the library of Sultan Mahmut II.

The inscription "This is a Library" at the entrance
"This is a Library"

The library was built in 1829 by Ali Rouhi, the governor of Cyprus. It is located near the east entrance of Selimiye mosque, and is a fine example of classical Ottoman architecture, with its twin domed arcade and large domed room. The interior walls of the library room are covered by a golden-coloured adorned poem praising Sultan Mahmut II.

Over the entrance door, is an inscription written in Arabic which states "This is a Library"

Over 1800 books in the library were donated by Sultan Mahmut II as well as many other well known people of the time. The books are mainly of religious subjects, and written in Arabic, Turkish and Persian.

These extremely valuable manuscripts have been taken to the National Archives in Kyrenia for preservation and research purposes.


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