Spacefleet Ecclesiastica Outremer: Latin Cathedrals of the Crusader States

The final instalment of all of the medieval Latin cathedrals has to conclude with the bishoprics that were established in the Crusader States that existed from 1098-1291. How many cathedrals are left? What did they look like? Well, there’s a few factors that stop there being a straight-forward answer to that question…

The Crusader States at their height in 1135 (incidentally, when the new E end of St Denis, N of Paris is going up under Abbot Suger).
At this point Cyprus is still held by the Byzantine Empire and Armenian Cilicia is yet to become a kingdom.
Wikicommons – Amitchell125

It ought to be remembered that before the Crusades, there was already a Christian administrative structure in the Holy Land with bishops of the Eastern Church (established as fundamentally separate to the Latin with the Great Schism of 1054), who often had their cathedra in late antique churches on sites of biblical importance. The First Crusade of 1096 took advantage of the upset of the Seljuk Turks advancing into the Fatimid Caliphate to launch an absolute all-guns-blazing assault on the Holy Land, with the Kingdom of France, the Holy Roman Empire, the navally-supreme Republic of Pisa, the Anglo-Norman state, and many more lending large militias and resources to what was essentially a lethally-armed pilgrimage to establish new territory for the Frankish (i.e. what we now known as France) aristocracy.

Despite enormous military support from across Europe, the First Crusade was essentially a Frankish political project, under the endorsement of Pope Urban II (who – funnily enough – was born as Odo in Châtillon, Champagne). The term Outremer (outré mer – far across the seas) encapsulates this somewhat better, as of course, while the zealously brutal Crusader militias conquered the territory, they generally didn’t stay there. “Crusader States” is an acceptable widespread term, as the states were acquired and maintained through the military campaigns of Crusaders. However, the term “Crusader Cathedral” is one I’ve tried to avoid, as the Crusaders didn’t build the cathedrals: they were built under the auspices of the overwhelmingly French-administered governments that had been established in the Levant, and at least partly using resident Levantine mason labour and expertise.

The Crusader States c.1190 before the Third Crusade
Wikicommons: MapMaster 

The new Latin dioceses, and, subsequently, cathedrals in the Crusader States were aligned under two Latin patriarchs based in Antioch and Jerusalem, essentially prelates with even higher autonomy from the pope than an archbishop. Albara, Apamea, Edessa, Tripoli, Tyre, Caesarea, Petra and Nazareth were archbishoprics within these patriarchates. Some of the initially-conquered territory likely did not endure long enough under Frankish control to get a new cathedral building project begun: the County of Edessa fell to the Seljuk Empire after less than fifty years. Most of the church-building occurred in the Kingdom of Jerusalem in the twelfth century, interrupted by the campaigns of Saladin as Sultan of Egypt and Syria in the last quarter of the twelfth century, and ended by the Mamluk Egyptian Sultanate’s flattening of the whole Crusader States on the mainland by the close of the thirteenth century.

The Ninth, and arguably last Crusade, led by Edward of Duke of Gascony (King Edward I of England from 1272)
Wikicommons: PHGCOM 

The island of Cyprus was captured from the Eastern Empire in 1191 (a foreshadowing of the Christian in-fighting of the Sack of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204) by Richard I (Cœur de Lion) of England, and subsequently passed to the Lusignan Kings of Jerusalem as another Frankish Kingdom. Its Latin cathedrals, are included here, as it’s all essentially a Crusader Outremer project, just one that lasted a bit longer than the mainland. The only way a Western state could have been maintained around Jerusalem would be with a professional standing army acting as a permanent defensive force.

al-Aqsa [the farthest] Mosque, Temple Mount, Jerusalem, from the NE.
Largely early 8thc (Abbasid caliphs) and early 11thc (Fatimid caliphs).
The front porch (the main arch with chevron ornament) was added under Knights Templar custodianship in the mid 12thc.
Wikicommons – Andrew Shiva

The new Latin churches and cathedrals in the Frankish-controlled Levant were almost certainly built largely through the labour and expertise of local masons (who, of whatever faith, would build whatever if you paid them). However established ideas on how a church should look were brought over from western Europe and were mingled with already established building techniques in the territory for Byzantine and Muslim buildings. The pointed arch had already been used in late eleventh-century Burgundy before the Crusades, but, due to its extensive use in extant Islamic architecture, for instance Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Jerusalem Solomonic Temple Mount (which became the headquarters of the Knights Templar, with expansions that survive to this day) they were utilised extensively in new Latin churches in the Crusader States. You can imagine a Frankish prelate gesturing to the Temple Mount mosque as a blueprint for a new basilica cathedral to a Byzantine Greek architect: but you know, put apses like you do on your tetraconch churches at the east ends of the aisles, capiche? Many of the new cathedrals were not terribly large compared to what we think of as cathedral churches today, but then, that’s hardly different to many early twelfth-century builds in the south of France.

Abbey church of St Denis, Paris: double ambulatory built late 1130s (2nd storey and inner hemicycle piers revamped 1230s)
me – 2013

Certainly there is an argument that the Crusader States solidified the take-up of the pointed arch in the architecture of northern Europe we now know as Gothic. When the new east end of St Denis was unveiled to the bishops of the Kingdom of France and beyond 11 June 1144, the consistent pointed arches really would have screamed “Jerusalem” to anyone who had been to Outremer. Same with the new Knights Templar Church in London, built late 1150s and consecrated 1185 by Heraclius, Patriarch of Jerusalem. The semi-circular arch of Imperial Rome could be said to have been superseded iconographically, and masons were no doubt happy about it, as the pointed arch is much closer to the actual thrust of the load of a masonry structure.

E doorway (spolia from a Frankish church in Acre), Madrasa/Mausoleum of Al-Nasir Muhammad,
Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt

This spacefleet of plans is based off what I’ve been able to find from both looking at secondary sources of lists of bishoprics and looking at surviving buildings on and off over the last five months. Important Crusader States cities like Antioch and Acre were basically razed to the ground during the Mamluk conquest. Of the 80 or so churches once in Acre, the most impressive survival is a Gothic portal (possibly from the church of St Andrew that survived in impressive ruins till the seventeenth century), in, uh, Cairo.

So, these eighteen cathedral plans will be discussed below: clearly not every cathedral that was built in the Crusader States, and also I can’t guarantee they are everything there is evidence for. Omitted are two Frankish Latin buildings that were possibly cathedrals but I couldn’t find plans of: Tarsus (Republic of Turkey)1 and Ramla (State of Israel)2. Also, getting plans, photos and aerial shots from this politically rather-fraught region is quite difficult. Especially anything in Syria, of which many archaeological sites have been desecrated and looted in the last decade. So this is the best I’ve managed. All modern states are de facto governmental control.

Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Jerusalem, Patriarchal cathedral of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre (State of Israel, West Jerusalem)
Church of the Holy Sepulchre from SE, the Gothic campanile and late 1860s iron dome over the Constantinian rotunda to the L, the smaller dome is over the crossing of the 12thc Frankish addition with the S transept in front of the main entrance courtyard; and the clerestory of its hemicycle to the R. Its radiating apsidal chapels were likely always embedded in the cloister of the Augustinian Canons to the E
Wikicommons: Berthold Werner

Arguably the most impressive church-building project in the Frankish Crusader states: an addition to what was originally a Rotunda over the Tomb of Christ constructed on the model of Imperial Roman mausolea under the Emperor Constantine in the late 320s. This Rotunda was part of the laying out of the site of Calvary, the location of which was (arguably accurately) ascertained as outside the western wall of Herod’s city by an envoy led by the Emperor’s mother Helena. The site had been covered by a temple to Venus built by Emperor Hadrian c.130s in his recolonisation of the city as Aelia Capitolina after the Imperial Roman Army had basically destroyed the Jewish city in the siege of 70 AD.

The Holy Sepulchre site as built under Constantine late 320s:
Left, Rotunda (Anastasis) with Aedicule centre (tomb of Christ);
Centre, forecourt (Holy Garden) and apse of the basilica of the Martyrium with the Rock of Golgotha below;
Right, narthex.

When the Crusaders took Jerusalem in 1099, the great basilica of the Martyrium had been long destroyed, but the Rotunda over the empty tomb of Christ survived. Through the virtue of its utterly central importance to Christianity it had been repaired under Byzantine custodianship (it had basically be brought down to the ground by Fatimid caliph al-Ḥākim bi-Amr Allāh in 1009, but the Greeks quickly intervened to rebuild it). The Rotunda was reimagined by the Franks as the nave of a new cathedral church rather than just a shrine/mausoleum.

The Holy Sepulchre site as rebuilt into a cathedral and house of Augustinian Canons by the mid 12thc in the Frankish Kingdom of Jerusalem. The complex was lost to the Egypt/Syria Sultan Saladin 1187, who allowed it to continue as a Christian pilgrimage site.
S transept of the Frankish Cathedral of the Holy Sepulchre, campanile to left, E arm to right.

Yes, the “immovable ladder” which is part of the Status Quo of 1757 is above the R portal, and allows access from the tribune to the ledge above the portals

The essentially Constantinian rotunda was complemented by a brand-new E arm built in the Burgundian Romanesque style on the E face of the rotunda, formally consecrated in 1149, fifty years after the First Crusade. It is connected to the plans of pilgrimage churches as had been built in the last quarter of the eleventh century in southern Europe (e.g. Conques, Ste-Foi, see my Iberian cathedrals for those), with a crossing space for the choir of a community of Augustinian canons, with an ambulatory with three radiating chapels behind. The main pilgrim access to the church, as still is today, was through the double doorway of the S transept.

S elevation of Frankish choir from N tribune gallery, photograph c.1957

The early twelfth-century Frankish Latin E arm is now difficult to appreciate architecturally since it serves as an Greek Orthodox church within the now multi-denominational building (with other parts custody of the Armenian, Roman, Coptic, Ethiopian and Syriac Churches), with the main apse and arcade capitals hidden behind the iconostasis screen, and the N-S arches of the crossing blocked in their lower parts by masonry walls. The galleries are filled in with upper chapels making them look more like triforia. This photo (R) seems to have been taken at the beginning of the refurnishing of the Katholikon in 1957, and shows the elevation far clearer than you can ever see it today (below).

The S elevation of the Frankish choir as the Greek Orthodox Katholikon, from floor as it currently appears

Nazareth, Cathedral church of the Annuciation

Basilica of the Annunciation (State of Israel)

One of the biggest Gothic building projects in the Frankish Levant, yet extremely short-lived as a structure, being destroyed 1263, only 12 years after it had been re-consecrated with an Annunciation Day Mass in the presence of King Louis IX of France. A striking thing about the church was that the second pier of the north arcade was built on top of the Holy House where the Virgin Mary met the Archangel Gabriel. Since the tradition was preserved from Apostolic times, it’s probably fairly likely to be the actual childhood home of Jesus of Nazareth. This north-side position of the Holy House under the arcade inspired a copy at Tartus Cathedral (see below) and also perhaps the position of the copy of the Holy House at Walsingham Priory in Norfolk, along with the north-side Lady Chapels at Peterborough Abbey and Ely Cathedral.

The high altar of the 1730 Franciscan church, with the high altar over the Holy House, from S, before its demolition in the 1950s.
View of the Holy House (formerly under the pier of the Frankish Cathedral and the altar of the 1730 Franciscan Church) from S in the lower church built 1960-9
Wikicommons: Israel Preker

Only parts of the N wall of the Latin cathedral survived into the modern era. After an initial Franciscan recolonisation of the site in 1620, an agreement was reached with the Ottoman governor for a small church to be built north-south over the ruins of the basilica in 1730. This church, subsequently expanded 1877, was demolished and the site thoroughly excavated from 1954 in preparation for a grand new Christian church in the State of Israel. At this time a great deal of architectural sculpture was discovered that showed the grandeur of this almost entirely destroyed Frankish cathedral.

The Grotto of the Annunciation, that is, the Holy House, is now preserved under the modern basilica. Despite more ambitious plans by Antonio Barluzzi (1884-1960), the current church was built largely of reinforced concrete to the design of Italian architect Giovanni Muzio (1893-1982) by Israeli engineering company Solel Boneh, 1960-9.

Bethlehem, Cathedral church of St Mary

Basilica of the Nativity (State of Palestine)
Bethlehem Cathedral, nave NE. The trapdoors to the L are open to the Constantinian mosaic pavement discovered in the 1920s.

The Cathedral of Bethlehem was originally a Constantinian basilica building, ending in a masonry octagon (possibly concrete vaulted?) over the grotto where the birth of Christ was largely believed to have taken place. The church that survives today was rebuilt under the Eastern Emperor Justinian in the sixth century, keeping the outline of the nave and its colonnades but but replacing the octagon with a transeptal triconch arrangement. The church is one of the best-surviving Roman basilicas and arguably the earliest Christian building that has remained in regular use as a church.

Bethlehem Cathedral: Constantinian work, solid, Justinian rebuild of the E end as a triconch, open.

Also extraordinary for their survival are the twelfth-century mosaics, dated 1169, which were co-sponsored by both the Byzantine Emperor Manuel Komnenos (1143-80) and King Amalric of Jerusalem (1163-74), and executed by local artists as part of the rejuvenation of a central shrine of Christendom. Their use of Greek and Latin does remind that church building in Outremer was not exclusively a Frankish endeavour.

S elevation of the 6thc nave of the Bethlehem basilica, with mosaics, internally dated 1169
Flickr – Peter Horenský

Beirut, Cathedral church of St John the Baptist

Jameh al-Umari al-Kabir [Al-Omari Grand Mosque] (Republic of Lebanon)
Beirut Cathedral, exterior SE
Beirut Cathedral, interior SE (mihrab/minbar in S wall)

An excellent surviving example of a typical Frankish Levant cathedral build. An aisled church of 5 bays ending in three echelon apses, barrel vault over the main space, groins over the aisles. No real clerestory, but small openings in the high vault above the arcades that give concession to the hotter climate. Arches gently pointed, exterior decoration of a corbel table with demi-shafts on the apses, and shallow buttresses on the nave walls. The apse window surrounds also have a hood of chevron ornament.

The building does not seem to have been particularly affected by the terrible Beirut port blast of 4 August 2020 that claimed over 200 lives. Although it is only 1.3 km from the blast site, much of the force of the explosion went eastward, while western Beirut was shielded by the surviving W face of the reinforced concrete grain silos.

Caesarea, Cathedral Church of St Peter

Ruin (State of Israel)
N and main apses of Caesarea Cathedral from W
Wikicommons Deror_avi 

Lower walls of the echelon apses of a a vast twelfth-century basilica are still visible. The whole church was around 50 metres long, along with Tyre, one of the biggest church builds in the Crusader States, exceptionally (other than the Holy Sepulchre), with high rib (rather than simply barrel or groin) vaults over the main vessel.

Gaza, Cathedral church of St John the Baptist

Jāmaʿ al-ʿUmarī al-Kabīr [Great Omari Mosque] (State of Palestine, the Gaza Strip)

Probably built after the fortification of Gaza under King Baldwin III of Jerusalem in 1149.3 The W facade has an oculus, and porch in front of a simply but elegantly-moulded doorway. Inside, the main arcade capitals are reused Byzantine work in a two-storey elevation featuring high groin-vaults. A minaret was built at the east end on the site of the main apse under the Mamluks and a canted outer south aisle added for the mihrab and minbar.

W doorway of Gaza Cathedral
adapted from this video

The building was catastrophically damaged in the British artillery bombardments of Gaza in 1917, after intelligence that the Ottomans were allegedly using it as a munitions store, and the vaulting partially collapsed in multiple places under the assault. It was rebuilt 1925-7 under the Supreme Muslim Council during British Mandatory Palestine, led by Sa’id al-Shawwa, former mayor of Gaza 1906-17.

Hebron, Cathedral Church of St Abraham

Cave of the Patriarchs / Masjid-e-Ebrahim [Abraham Mosque] (State of Palestine)
View of Hebron complex from the SE

The main complex is demarcated by a precinct wall built in the reign of Herod the Great (c. 37 BC-1 BC) enclosing the burial plot of Abraham, his sons and their wives, essentially the only Herodian build left standing. The site inside the walls was first covered over by the Eastern Empire, but the Franks inserted a whole arcade and clerestory inside the eastern half, transforming it into a vaulted basilica. Saladin reconquered the area 1188 and the structure was converted into a mosque, although Christian worship was still permitted. Now the site is more a site of joint Jewish/Muslim veneration of the patriarchs, who are held to be interred in the essentially sealed-off cave complex below.

Elevation of the Frankish Church of Hebron, looking SE. The minbar/mihrab are bottom R. The marble-clad cenotaph of Issac is between the arcade piers.
Panoramic view from S aisle roof of Frankish church. Clerestory to R, dome over the cenotaph of Abraham centre, with domes over Jacob/Leah cenotaphs behind the courtyard below the minaret.

The Frankish Latin cathedral is now a mosque, with the mihrab facing Mecca in the E wall. While the dado area is clad in coloured marble, the main twelfth-century arcade elevation with clustered piers and foliate capitals is visible. The cenotaphs to Isaac and Rebecca are also clad in marble.

The W end may have held a formal cloister in the Crusader States period, but still contains the cenotaphs to Abraham/Sarah and Jacob/Leah, which are covered by lead domes, around a central tarp-covered courtyard.

Lydda [Lod], Cathedral church of St George

Greek Orthodox church of St George / El-Khidr Mosque (State of Israel)
Photograph of the S arcade from S, shortly before the 1870 rebuilding
The S arcade inside the church today, the arch filled with masonry and a window.

A church built largely for the shrine of St George, which became a ruin after the fall of the Crusader States. It stood as a fragment of the s arcade with parts of the N and central apses until they were incorporated into a new build as an Orthodox church in 1870-4. The entrance to the Mamluk mosque still occupies the W half of the original Frankish church building.

The ornamented inner cornice of the apse’s masonry semi-dome (comparable to carving in the Holy Sepulchre) shows that it was quite a sophisticated building despite its small size.

Sebastia, Cathedral church of St John the Baptist

Jama’a Nabi Yahya [Prophet John Mosque] (State of Palestine)
View of the Baptist tomb from W between original Frankish S aisle transverse arches. Roofed Ottoman mosque and minaret in background

The Frankish Latin church nave is largely an open ruined shell, but with part of the arcades surviving showing it was a typical early twelfth-century Crusader-States build, with groin-vaulted aisles but, uniquely, a mostly sexpartite-vaulted main vessel. The E apses were demolished and the last bays filled in to be revamped and vaulted as an Ottoman mosque, using some spolia from the earlier Christian phases in its construction.

The domed structure built into the S arcade marks the site of John the Baptist’s original tomb.

Sebastia Cathedral, E arm, rebuilt as a mosque in the Ottoman Period. The minbar centre in what is essentially the original cathedral S wall

Tyre, Cathedral church of the Holy Cross

Ruin (Republic of Lebanon)
Tyre Cathedral, view of the S and central apses from SE. The Roman granite columns have been re-erected on the medieval pier foundations, almost certainly entirely incorrectly
from https://flic.kr/p/8vGwq
Engraving of the now vanished S transept of Tyre Cathedral, with the enclosed S-facing apse and part of the nave arcade and E arm aisle wall from the N, by Cornelius van Bruyn, 1682.
Notice one of the granite monolithic columns well buried in the position of the crossing.

Arguably the largest Crusader States Frankish cathedral, some 67 metres long (Nazareth was longer, but likely Tyre was greater in overall size and volume), ending in echelon apses, and also protruding transepts with enclosed apses. The ambitious transepts – generally Frankish Levant churches were planned as straight-through basilicas – were possibly due to its dedication to the Holy Cross. Genuinely a hefty church build for early twelfth-century Europe. However, typically for Outremer, there were no high rib-vaults, only barrel vaults over the central vessels. The crossing piers were almost certainly made from the monolithic Egyptian red granite columns – probably originally from a Roman temple – that were lying around the nave still in the late nineteenth century. Relatively recently the columns were re-erected on the nave pier foundations without justification, and look misleadingly silly. In fact the whole site is a bit of a mess really, and needs a good bit of consolidation.

Patriarchate of Antioch

Encompassing the states of the Principality of Antioch, along with the Counties of Edessa and Tripoli, there is much less left of Frankish buildings for this patriarchate than for Jerusalem’s. Whether this is a consequence of them simply not getting round to building much or later destruction (as seen above, a nice big aisled basilica on a biblical site would never be frowned upon as a mosque) I’m not really sure. But the first two buildings are interesting Eastern Empire churches it’s fun to have a look at anyway.

Apamea, “Eastern Cathedral”

Ruin (Syrian Arab Republic)
E apse of the Tetraconch church (Eastern Cathedral), Apamea, early 6thc
Wikicommons: Gianfranco Gazzetti, taken 2002

Apamea was a Hellenic and Imperial Roman city, which had a large aisled “tetraconch” church built in the early sixth century. Since there is no trace of a Latin Cathedral, I’m assuming the Latins used this building as the base of their archbishopric. Regardless, it’s interesting to throw it into comparison for size. It was a genuinely impressive build, and its construction is best evoked by this reconstruction of Seleucia-Pieria church, of the late fifth century.

Church of Seleucia Pieria (Republic of Turkey), probably late 5thc, 3D reconstruction by James Stanton-Abbott

Apamea underwent systematic looting after the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011. Quite alarmingly so.

Sarepta, Excavated Byzantine Church

Buried archaeology (Sarafand, Republic of Lebanon)
The SW corner of the church at Sarepta

A probably unaisled tetraconch church discovered 1969-74 is the only known church building in this Roman port settlement that had a Latin bishopric. Its shape was extrapolated by the excavated corner of lower footings, with one loose shaft base discovered.

The marble shaft base

This Eastern Empire church was likely built in sixth century beside the Roman quay. It may have been in ruins before the First Crusade, so whether it was used by the Latins is conjecture, but there is no site for a Latin Cathedral. Again, it is interesting to include for scale of what the Franks were combatting with their new basilicas. The point on my Google Map is bang on it as far as I could work it out.

Byblos [Jubayl], Cathedral church of St John the Baptist

Church of St Jean-Marc (Republic of Lebanon)
Byblos Cathedral from E
© Emily C. Floyd
Byblos Cathedral, main apse from SW

A three-bay nave ending in echelon apses: Shafted detailing on the windows of the main apse inside and out, with gently pointed arches. The fanciest bit is arguably the slightly-later addition of a vaulted porch/baptistery on the S side of the nave, which has a variety of ornament on its three arches.

Barrel-vaulted nave, arcade with pointed arches and simple capitals, groin vaults over the aisle. Again, exactly the sort of thing you’d get as a small cathedral in the south of France in the early twelfth-century.

Tartus, Cathedral church of Our Lady of Tortosa

Tartus Museum (Syrian Arab Republic)
Tartus Cathedral from SW, Dec 1987
Wikicommons – Ziegler175
Tartus Cathedral, N arcade with Marian shrine (Photo by D. Pringle, 1984)

One of the most assured Gothic builds in the Frankish Levant, sporting clustered piers to the nave arcades with interior shafts which support a pointed barrel vault with small window openings. A shrine to the Virgin Mary, ostensibly preserving the first church dedicated to her by St Peter himself, was incorporated under the centre pier of the N arcade on the model of Nazareth. The church was probably built in the latter part of the twelfth century, as the clustered piers bear a resemblance to later Early Gothic, e.g. at Laon Cathedral. The west front has a set of pointed windows with flanking shafts with shaft-rings, advising a completion date in the early thirteenth century.

Kingdom of Cyprus

The Island of Cyprus was conquered in 1191 by Richard I of England from the Byzantine Empire in the Third Crusade. It served like an aircraft carrier for tactical strikes by the Latins on the coast of the Levant. Richard initially sold the island to the Knights Templar, who acted like complete murderous bullies (as usual), so it quickly passed to the Lusignans in 1192 who held the Kingdom of Jerusalem. As the Crusader States collapsed to the Mamluks, Cyprus became a handy bolt-hole for as the Frankish Levant finally collapsed for good.

There were four Latin dioceses in medieval Cyprus, under the archbishopric of Nicosia. Two Latin cathedrals survive as mosques, one a scaled-back High Gothic build and another an exceptional plant of quite advanced Rayonnant architecture c.1300. The Greeks had their own separate cathedrals. The island fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1570.

Nicosia, Cathedral church of St Sophia

Ayasofya/Selimiye Mosque, North Nicosia (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus)
Nicosia Latin Cathedral from the SW. The two minarets were of course raised in the Ottoman period
Wikicommons – A.Savin
Nicosia Cathedral, S elevation
wikicommons – Chris06

This outshines the churches in the mainland Crusader States as a fully rib-vaulted Gothic church with a grand clerestory, built from 1209. The elevation is two-storey and generally squat compared to a contemporary French cathedral, likely a concession in style to the hotter climate. The squat proportions also seem to inspire the odd Remois passage in the nave walls, which have steps down from the aisle windows to under the vault capitals.

The W portals, although stripped of all imagery (rather reminiscent of what also happened to Noyon Cathedral in northern France), is a superb show of mid-thirteenth-century High Gothic ornament.

Nicosia W porch looking S
Wikicommons – Chris06

Famagusta, Cathedral Church of St Nicholas

Ayasofya/Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus)
Famagusta, Latin Cathedral from the S. Note the central bays of the clerestory lacking Rayonnant gables.
Wikicommons – Zairon
S elevation of choir and apse with mural double piscina and triple sedilia (latter stepped down to the east)
Wikicommons – Ad Meskens

An absolutely exceptional provincial late rayonnant Gothic building, in some ways a simplified version of the papal collegiate church of St Urbain, Troyes (1262-). Notably, the patron of that building, Pope Urban IV (1261-4) was, as Jacques Pantaléon, patriarch of Jerusalem 1255-61. The new Latin cathedral of Famagusta was begun shortly after 1298 with the ascension of Bishop Guy. There was a suspension in construction after his death 1308×11 (recorded by an inscription on the south door of the cathedral), which may explain why the clerestory of the central bays lacks the rayonnant gables of the W and E ends.

Although the open-work double piscina may be drawn from Troyes, the high altar sedilia (which are probably mediated through Rhineland sources, as mural sedilia are completely unknown in France) are stepped down towards the E end. This is probably due to later interventions: the church became a mosque in 1571, with a minaret built over the NW stair turret, and has remained as such ever since.

Famagusta Latin Cathedral, W front, either 1308×11 or mid 14thc
Wikicommons – Zairon

Paphos, Cathedral Church of St Peter

Ruin (Republic of Cyprus)
The Gothic church ruin by the harbour basilica
Fragment of a vaulted church (possibly the Latin Cathedral) of Paphos, from E
Image by Michel Willis, 1974

The candidate shown on the plan is a Gothic church built alongside the massive seven-aisled early fifth-century basilica of Panagia Limeniotissa (Our Lady of the Harbour), partly destroyed in seventh-century raids by the Umayyad Caliphate. The Gothic building was superseded by a small sixteenth-century church, Saint Kyriaki, built in the centre of the Roman basilica ruins.

There is another candidate for the Latin Cathedral, a small fragment of an angle of masonry further north. It has fine ashlar facing and a springing of low vaulting. Have to admit couldn’t find anything academic about it, although I’m sure there must be something published on it.

Limassol, Cathedral Church of Saint Sophia

Replaced by Camii Kabir [Grand Mosque] (Republic of Cyprus)
The apses of Limassol Latin Cathedral
Google Maps user GL Littleton

The archaeology of two apses discovered at the E side of the Ottoman mosque in 1993 suggests that the Latin bishops commandeered an existing Imperial Roman/Byzantine church and did little more than plaster over the synthronon. In 1491 the cathedral was heavily damaged in an earthquake, and the rebuild of the walls from this time was incorporated into the mosque.

Archaeology of the apses behind the Grand Mosque (from a information plaque outside the building)

So there we go. Here is the sensible version of these buildings (click for full size).

This is such a small project, and also way beyond my expertise I’m not going to paywall the full-res images even for a penny, because I’m pretty sure I’ll want to mod them within about a couple days of putting this live (corrections and additions are welcome). These plans are the same resolution as my “Frontiers” project, (that is, slightly higher than for the generally much larger cathedrals of England, France and Germany) so if you’d like to donate, please consider that. I think the PDF is quite fun. Here comes the support banner!

So, one last thing to do… all the medieval Latin cathedrals? Not sure whether I will put all the fleets together on one single image (especially since I balked on doing Italy) but there is one big Google Map nearly ready to drop. Stay tuned.


Bibliography and Footnotes for nerds

A great deal of this was gathered from what I could get online of Denys Pringle’s 4 vol. The Churches of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem and many of his other publications. An older useful text I got hold of in full was A History of the Crusades, Vol IV, The Art and Architecture of the Crusader States ed. Kenneth M. Setton (Wisconsin UP, 1977), notably the chapters by T.S.R. Boase. Otherwise, Fernie, Romanesque Architecture: The First Style of the European Age (Yale UP, 2014) was as invaluable as ever for its delightfully pithy Marxist approach to these buildings. If you want to know more about Cyprus, seek out Michalis Olympios, Building the Sacred in a Crusader Kingdom: Gothic Church Architecture in Lusignan Cyprus, c.1209-c.1373, Architectura Medii Aevi 11 (Brepols 2018). Although I didn’t read it for this, because I could buy a plane ticket to the island for how much those AMAs retail at.

1 There were Latin bishops in Tarsus during the twelfth century even though it wasn’t inside a Frankish Crusader State, but in which church they sat is unclear to me: other than the clearly mid twelfth-century Eski Camii [Old Mosque], there’s a case that perhaps they shared the royal Armenian cathedral of Saint Sophia, where Lewon I was crowned first King of Armenian Cilicia, probably on the site of the Ulu Camii [New Mosque]. There is also another church in Tarsus S of the Ulu Camii, often called one of the earliest Crusader churches but essentially completely rebuilt in the 1850s. Tarsus, along with the diocese of Mamistra, was never in a Frankish Crusader state, but nevertheless was part of the Latin Patriarchate of Antioch.

2 Ramla is bang right next to Lydda, so at most it was a joint diocese. Ramla was the only city founded ex-novo by the Arabs in Palestine and its earliest capital. There will be a plan in Ramla: City of Muslim Palestine, 715-1917, eds by A. Petersen and D. Pringle (Archaeopress, 2021), but I don’t have free access to it. But also I can see Pringle doesn’t call the church a cathedral, so that’s enough for me not to bother.
Other buildings like the Great Mosque of Nablus (Palestine) may be built on the site of Byzantine/Latin cathedrals and reuse sculptural elements such as capitals from them, but seem to be totally rebuilt as mosques anew.

3 There was no Latin bishop of Gaza appointed in the twelfth century, due to its blocking as an episcopate by the resident Templars who King Baldwin III appointed the territory to after fortification. Whether this church was built as a cathedral (or even if the John the Baptist dedication is legitimate beyond later Islamic tradition) is uncertain, although it was perhaps used as one.

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