Hala Sultan Tekke and the Larnaka Salt Lake Complex
Hala Sultan Tekke and the Larnaka Salt Lake Complex is part of the Tentative list of Cyprus in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.
The Larnaka Salt Lakes comprise a wetland area with an Islamic monument on its banks. The Mosque and Tekke complex was built on the spot of the 7th century burial site of Umm Haram (an aunt and one of the companions of the Prophet Mohammed). It evolved into a shrine under Ottoman rule in the 19th century. The Salt Lakes see high numbers of waterfowl in winter; the water evaporates in summer and leaves a crust of salt.
Map of Hala Sultan Tekke and the Larnaka Salt Lake ComplexLoad map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
This tentative site is composed by two elements: the Salt lake, and the Ottoman mosque and tomb of Hala Sultan Tekke on the lake's shores.
The mosque is just a few minutes by car outside the city of Larnaka, near the international airport. The mosque has a good (ad free) car park and the lake can easily be visited by parking at the mosque and then taking a short path to the lake's shore. There are also other places around the lake that allow to reach the shore but they are not as easy to reach as the mosque.
When I visited in August 2021, the Salt Lake was completely dry (which is normal for the season) therefore there were no flamingos hanging around, as normally seen in winter, and it just looked like a pinkish salt plain (a small portion of the lake can be seen in my picture to the left of the mosque). However, despite of being an interesting natural oasis, it fails to really impress the occasional visitor.
The mosque and the tomb can be visited also by non-Muslim (granted that you wear long pants and your shoulders are covered) and the entrance is free. The building is nice and it's kept in pristine conditions, however it does not offer anything that is not seen in other Ottoman buildings around the Mediterranean.
All in all, a visit to Hala Sultan Tekke and the Larnaka Salt Lake could be a good way to kill 30 minutes to 1 hour before heading to the airport, although I seriously doubt it will ever make it to the list as the site doesn't seem to have a particular outstanding value.
Read more from Riccardo Quaranta here.
Salt Lake of Larnaka is located immediately at the south of the city, and even closer to the international airport, with the mosque on its shore. According to tradition, the aunt of prophet Mohammed died here, falling from her mule during an Arabic raid on the Cyprus island in seventh century. It has been since then a sacred place for Muslim people, but the mosque that can be visited nowadays was built later on, when Ottoman people ruled the island.
One enters the complex through an old gate, which gives access to a nice courtyard with flowers, with the mosque entrance on the right side. The tomb (tekke) of the aunt can be seen in a backroom accessible from the prayer room. Remains of an old cemetery can be seen at the back of the mosque. The building is nice and well maintained, the place is quiet, but the building itself has no special features and there are many like this one in countries that were rules by Ottomans.
The lake is easily accessible from the car park of the mosque. It was quite disappointing. Most birds had already flown away (we visited end of March), in particular the flamingos that our children would have enjoyed to watch. (Flamingos where still in North Cyprus during our trip but had gone from South Cyprus). Many such salt lakes can be seen on the shores of the Mediterranean see, and we found nothing special to that one. The road from Larnaka city centre to the airport even cuts the southern part of the lake, so I believe many other lakes are better preserved.
This tentative site is proposed with cultural and natural criterias, but the link between them was not obvious to us (it is just that the mosque and the lake are at the same place), and even considering them separately, we believe it will be difficult for this tentative site to gain inscription one day.
The mosque is very well signposted and easy to find and park. Entrance is free with wide opening hours, open almost every day of the year. Access to the lake is free. This is a good visit option if you have some time just before flying from Larnaka international airport (five minute drive). We spent around one hour at that place.
2016 Added to Tentative List
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45 Community Members have visited.