Egyptian professor to renovate ancient mosque of Hala Sultan
Egypt, Local, 7/30/2002
Professor Saleh Lamei Mostafa, the world famous Egyptian specialist in preserving ancient buildings who was appointed by the the United Nations Office for Project services (UNOPS) to head up the team restoring Hala Sultan Tekke, one of the most revered sites of Islam, has recently reported significant progress in the initial phase of the restoration work.
The UNOPS program of work on Hala Sultan Tekke, which started two years ago, is part of a twin project aimed at saving the Tekke and the Greek Orthodox monastery of Apostolos Andreas, on the other side of the Green Line on the occupied island of Cyprus, which are regarded as two of the most important cultural sites in the country.
Financed from funds provided by the United States and the United Nations Development program (UNDP), the restoration work, has now reached its final and most important stage, the repair and renovation of the main buildings: the mosque and the minaret. The project is part of the Bicommunal Development Program, which was instituted to fund a series of practical activities in which Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots prepare and implement projects in areas of common concern.
"My aim is to give Hala Sultan Tekke eternal life," said Professor Mostafa, 67, who is founder and General Director of the Cairo based CIAH, the Centre for Conservation and Preservation of Islamic Architecture Heritage, the only registered centre in the domain of Islamic architecture and restoration in Egypt and throughout the Middle East.
"This building, like so many around the world, has been bequeathed to us as a heritage and it is our duty to preserve it for future generations.
"At Hala Sultan Tekke we are planning to give the buildings a renovated infrastructure which will prevent further deterioration.
"Of course, once it has been restored, the best way to keep the building in shape is for it to be used, because in that way people automatically keep an eye on it and make repairs as they are needed."
Hala Sultan Tekke, a complex made up of a small mosque, a mausoleum, a minaret, and living quarters for men and women, is set amidst palm trees on the shore of the Larnaka Salta Lake, and is one of the most famous sites in Cyprus, familiar to many millions of travelers who pass through the nearby airport.
The mosque and the mausoleum, built between 1174H/1760AD and 1211H/1796AD, is revered as the burial place of Umm Haram, a lady who was married to one of the Prophet's closest followers, traveled with him on an expedition to Cyprus, and died after falling from a mule.
Over the years, the stonewalls of Hala Sultan Tekke were damaged through humidity, pollution, and disuse, and the many trees which once stood in its gardens were damaged by the heavy salinity of the area, next to the Salta Lake.
A series of geological, structural and mineralogical tests have been carried out by experts over the past two years, and were the prelude to the work needed to rehabilitate the building. These studies included the installation of equipment, which enabled specialists to monitor the movement of Tekke's walls.
Professor Mostafa, who received the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1989 for the restoration of the Great Omari Mosque in Sidon, Lebanon, has been responsible for many works of conservation and preservation throughout the Middle East, including the Khayer-Bek Mosque, Cairo. The Umayyad Mosque, Baalbeck, and the King Abdul-Aziz Palace, Dwadmi-Riyadh, explained, "If Hala Sultan Tekke had been left to its own devices it would have crumbled, the walls could not have continued to hold the roof, and the edifice would have collapsed.
"The situation now is that the building needs urgent and exhaustive care and a maintenance program to protect it from the weather."
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