You’ll see plenty of Mosques in Old Town, but it feels like they’re part of a bygone era and act more as tourist attractions than religious institutions. Among them is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, more commonly known as the Blue Mosque.
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I don’t have to tell you that visiting the Blue Mosque is a must in Istanbul. It’s like visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Or, for points and miles enthusiasts, the Park Hyatt Vendome.
Construction of the Blue Mosque began in 1609 on the orders of Sultan Ahmed I and took 7 years to complete. If you enjoy architecture or pretty things in general, you’re going to like visiting the Blue Mosque. The level of detail is remarkable. There aren’t many buildings that get this much attention for a ceiling alone…
In this day and age we have the technology to build structures that are taller, bigger, and more technologically advanced. Yet, I don’t think anything we build today will measure up to what has been constructed in the past. A thousand years from now, structures like the Blue Mosque will still be admired over whatever tourist trap Dubai is planning next (if it’s even standing).
I highly recommend visiting the Blue Mosque at night. There is something majestic about the place when it’s set against the dark evening sky.
At night, the interior looks more red than blue. It’s largely the lighting, which also makes for tricky photography. Turn the flash on and your pictures turn into fodder for ghost hunters. Turn it off and you’ve got dark, blurry shots that fail to impress when you tell people how stunning the place is…
Visitors are required to remove their shoes. Plastic bags are provided at the entrance so you can take them inside with you. All entrants must cover their arms and legs, and women must cover their heads. I am just now noticing that the woman in the right corner of the above photograph doesn’t have her arms or head covered. Wonder how she got away with that…
Visitors are required to stand outside while worshippers are praying. An area has also been partitioned off for worshippers, and there is a sign in English asking visitors to stand behind it. It doesn’t really take away from the experience, as there is lots of space to wander.
If you’re in Istanbul you can’t escape a visit to the Blue Mosque. There’s no admission fee, you don’t need a tour guide, and you get the best experience at night, when the lines are shorter and its grandeur is accentuated.