Blue Mosque; Sultanahmet Mosque  » Travel  »
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Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey
  • It was actually an interesting experience from the very start
  • I found they were very strict about knees and shoulders, though
  • I was wearing pants, so that wasn't an issue, but I was also wearing a tank top, so they made me put on my raincoat that I was carrying with me the entire time I was in the mosque
  • We were also required to take off our shoes, which grossed me out a little once I thought about how many barefoot people walked through this building everyday
  • If you're ever in Istanbul, definitely check it out


    • by Alanna Rosewood
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      I am what you would call an architecture nerd, so when I had the opportunity to go see the Blue Mosque while I was in Istanbul I jumped on the chance. It is one of the most famous mosques in the world, although native Turkish people do not actually call it the Blue Mosque, so I was ecstatic. It was actually an interesting experience from the very start. There are a lot of monuments right outside the mosque that are part of the ruins of the Byzantine Hippodrome (most of which is completely gone), so I got to look at those before I actually entered the ground of the Blue Mosque. I was particularly amazed by an ancient Egyptian obelisk that was still standing. I never thought I would see anything like that, although I must admit it sort of looks like a more decorated and much smaller version of the Washington Monument.

      When we finally got in line to go into the Blue Mosque there were signs everywhere concerning the rules for being in the mosque. We made sure to come when the mosque was not in use as it is still an active mosque. If you ever have the chance to see the Blue Mosque make sure you have your knees and shoulders covered, but don’t worry about your head - they aren’t particularly concerned about head coverings, no matter what the websites say. I found they were very strict about knees and shoulders, though. I was wearing pants, so that wasn’t an issue, but


      I was also wearing a tank top, so they made me put on my raincoat that I was carrying with me the entire time I was in the mosque. Some of my friends who were with me had shorts on, so they were given blue sheets to wrap around their waists, and a similar cloth for their shoulders if they needed it. We were also required to take off our shoes, which grossed me out a little once I thought about how many barefoot people walked through this building everyday. Thank goodness I was wearing socks. The people working there were very nice also, and most of them spoke pretty good English, so there were no problems communicating. I am actually amazed by how many language people in Istanbul can speak. If you’re in any sort of tourist areas they are almost guaranteed to speak at least English, and a lot of them also speak German or French. So if you don’t know Turkish, no problem! They will still probably be able to talk to you!

      Once appropriately attired I was able to go into the building, and although I have seen some very beautiful buildings, I have never seen anything quite like this. It was absolutely gorgeous. Intricate designs covered every inch of available space, some painted, some tile. I was particularly impressed by the tile designs, because that would take an awful lot of skill to complete and not bungle. Even the ceiling had designs all over it, and that had to be at ...


      • least one hundred feet high. I would almost go so far as equating it to Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel. If that weren’t enough, there is a massive candle apparatus that has been hanging since the mosque was originally built, although now it has been modified to run on electricity. This lit up pretty much the entire building and cast soft light on the frescos and tiles. It was absolutely beautiful - I think it is just as beautiful as the Hagia Sophia, even if it isn’t not as old. It certainly does credit to the skill of the Ottomans. I thought it was funny, though, that even though we call it the Blue Mosque, the carpet was a deep red. This is how I found out that it’s name isn’t actually the Blue Mosque, that is simply what foreigners call it because it is much easier to say and recognize. It was appropriately named though, because aside from the carpet almost everything was some shade of blue, inside and out. I love the atmosphere ass well; it was massive inside and had a very open and warm feeling to it without feeling overwhelming.

        The only thing that bothered was the massive crowd that never seemed to thin while we were in the mosque. The line to get in wasn’t terrible, since I don’t think there is a set limit to the number of people allowed in the mosque, but it was difficult to see some things over people’s heads and raised cameras. It was

        a little difficult to move as well, and you had to be sure to stay with your group otherwise it was extremely hard to find them again. I was also a little annoyed by the cables holding the candelabra up because it obscured the view of the ceiling and walls, but that was how it was originally designed so I had to suck it up.

        One thing I found entertaining while we were on and near the grounds of the Blue Mosque were all the vendors running around trying to sell people hats, flutes, bread and the like. Don’t be afraid to say no, and that is the best thing to do whether you want something or not. If you want a hat and they offer it you, just say no and they will cut their price in half. Haggling is just way to much fun.

        All in all, it is still absolutely stunning and an amazing experience. It was well worth the effort of going to see it, and it is very conveniently located in the center of the old city near a lot of other amazing attractions like the Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, Spice Market, and most hotels, which I took full advantage of. I had gone to the Hagia Sophia the day before and gotten some great pictures of the Blue Mosque from there (they are right next to each other). If you’re ever in Istanbul, definitely check it out. Just be prepared to be sporadically mobbed by Turkish children wanting to practice their English on you.




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