HZ. ÖMER SHRINE AND MOSQUE
When we drive from Çatalköy towards the sea around 1 km, you will see a white building at the coast. In this building, there are seven tombs of seven Islamic martyrs whose names are unknown.
According to some resources, Hz. Ömer who was the commander of a navy troop belongs to the Army of Muaviye attacked the north shores of the island during the Islamic Raids in 7th C. At their point of attack, Hz. Ömer and his six friends were martyred by the Byzantine soldiers and their bodies had been buried in the cave right at that spot.
These tombs have been discovered, removed to the current location and a mosque and a shrine were built on the tombs after the Turkish conquest of the island in 1571. Hz.Ömer who is buried here has no relation to Khalif Ömer who is related to Prophet Muhammed. According to the Islamic beliefs, a martyr can be buried on the land he was martyred, and the soil under which a martyr is lying is considered holy.
Along with the information in the books in the archives, there are several legends about how the mosque and the shrine were built.
According to one these legends, pirates used to plunder the coasts and kidnap women long long ago. One day a shepherd named Hacı Hasan sees a ship approaching the coast and realizes that they are pirates. He hides behind the rocks and begins to pray God that he saves the human beings from these pirates. At that moment, 7 cavalrymen appears on their red horses. The cavalrymen look at the shepherd and the ship approaching the land and ride their horses towards the sea and continue riding on top of the water until they reach the ship. At that moment, the ship and the cavalrymen disappears. Hacı Hasan sees that the foot prints of the horses are still visible on the ground. He goes to his village to tell what happened and when the villagers see the foot prints and believe in Hacı Hasan. After that day, no pirates come to the village and the villagers built a shrine and a mosque on the exact spot that the footprints were, to show their gratitude to the cavalrymen.
There is another legend that is told about how Hz. Ömer and his six friends have been martyred. According to the story, Omer who was a commander of Arabic army, was appointed to Cyprus to prptect the island from Byzantines. They operate an attack to a cave in the southeast of the location of today’s shrine. During the attack in the cave, Ömer and his six friends are martyred. 2 years later their unspoiled bodies had been found and buried right there.
The cave in question was regarded holy and visited by Cypriot Turks and Greek people until 1974. Turkish believes that the cave belonged to Hz. Ömer and the Greeks believed that the cave belonged to a saint called Aya Fanontes.
Turkish regard the shrine and the cave holy while the Greeks regard only the cave holy. In the cave, people burn candles, leave money, and tie clothes by making a wish. When their wish come true, they come back and untie the cloth. Today, the shrine is only used for worship.
The shrine is built on a rocky surface and has two stories. Ground floor has a porch at the entrance where you can go down to the shrine and the mosque. The shrine on the right where the seven tombs are located are covered with a dome and the other areas are covered with a flat ceiling. The second floor has visitor rooms divided by archways. Exterior and the interior walls are plastered by lime. The place has no ornaments or decoration other than some random hangings and tapestry plaques. The originally irregular building had been damaged after the Greek destructions and the lightning stroke in 1974. After an insensible restoration, it became a building with no architectural value.