This used to be St Nicholas cathedral, built in the early 14th century to a Gothic design modelled on Reims cathedral in France. We donate 10TL as we enter; the warden points out some of the features including a circular hole in the ceiling that looks like a heart as you move away from it. The conversion to a mosque back in 1571 after the Ottoman conquest surprisingly does not detract but adds. We are lucky to visit just as it is empty and free from other tourists. The walls are white, there is one carpet throughout rather than separate rugs and the minbar is very modest. It is elegant, uncluttered and this sets off the soaring vaulting and Gothic windows which are filled with clear glass and a few parts with subtle colours. It is a calm and spiritual space. Even the minaret is discreet. We have a look at the outside to admire the sculpture in particular at the east end (there are three dogs asleep in the shade cast by the east end).
We then have a look at more of the churches in the south east part of the city. the St George of the Greeks church is a huge 15th century Gothic-Byzantine style structure with three rounded apses that still show signs of wall paintings. Abutting this church is a small Byzantine church, St Simon’s (Agios Symeon). We then find the two small Byzantine style churches of Agios Nikolaos, in ruins. and Agia Zoni, still well preserved but typically locked. They stand near to each other very picturesquely set in an empty area with a few palm trees. We finish our exploration with a walk along the dry moat from the Canbulat bastion to the Land Gate with good views of the structure of the wall; parts are built on bedrock where as the three bastions we pass (Camposanto, Andruzzi and Santa Napa) are solidly built onto the ground of the dry moat. Parts of the outer line of defensive wall are on bedrock that is eroding and stonework that is hanging precariously.
We head back to the hotel mid afternoon to relax out of the heat and then at 7.30pm meet up with some of Paul’s friends for drinks and an evening meal.