Istanbul was actually one of the first major European cities outside of my home country that I have ever visited, despite having lived in London all my life. I had the opportunity to have a look around the historic city of Istanbul recently and one of the most amazing things that I experienced was The Blue Mosque. Built in 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I, this mosque is a fantastic example of classical Ottoman architecture and is very photogenic!
The Blue Mosque, otherwise known as Sultan Ahmed Mosque to the locals, is so-called because of its blue tiles in the interior. It is without question deserving of its status as one of the city’s main tourist attractions. Unlike nearby Hagia Sophia, which is now a museum, the Blue Mosque is a real mosque where Muslims go to pray every day. As such, your dress code when visiting should be respectful and fully comply with the regulations (i.e. no skimpy shorts, or vests). I am not religious myself, but I enjoy learning about different cultures and religions – including Islam – and this here in Istanbul was actually the first time I had ever been inside a real Mosque (although I have seen Mosques in all their resplendent glory on the outside in Jakarta, Singapore, Dubai, and New Delhi).
Check out this great blog on Sultan Ahmed Cami by Formae Divinae for more information!
The admission price to the Blue Mosque is completely free. There are two entrances to actually go inside the main building, one of those entrances is for Muslims only. The entrance at the rear is for tourists, and we were made to take off our shoes and put them into a plastic bag and carry them around with us. You will not be allowed into the Mosque unless you take off your footwear. The plastic bags were readily available and there were more than enough for everybody to use. Women must also wear headscarves when inside the main building of the Mosque, although in the courtyards outside you do not need to cover up your head.
When inside The Blue Mosque, you will gasp at the intricately decorated ceiling tiles and the overall shape of the design up there. There are countless people with their cameras and phones staring upwards to get a good glimpse of the architecture. It really is a prime example of Islamic architecture but obviously with Ottoman touches of flair.
For a different perspective on Sultan Ahmed Cami, this blog by Turk Eberts may please you.
I had always wanted to visit the Blue Mosque. When I first saw pictures of it I thought it resembled something out of Middle-Earth, with its drastic architecture of one main dome and 8 secondary domes, each surrounded by the iconic six minarets. During calls to prayer, there are speakers positioned on these minarets to relay the noise to the locals. It was such an experience to hear the call to prayer in the shadow of Sultan Ahmed Mosque!