Sultan Ahmet Mosque
The ‘Blue Mosque’ is in the Sultanahmet neighborhood of Istanbul and was built in the early 1600s. It is a functioning mosque, but they allow tourists in to parts of it. It was gorgeous inside, with intricate mosaic tilework and grand domed ceilings with huge chandeliers. I’ve heard it gets crowded, but we arrived a few minutes before it opened and walked around the peaceful courtyard outside. Then we headed over to the entrance and picked up the shawls they provide to cover your head. After taking off our shoes and putting them into plastic bags they provide, we headed inside and were allowed to explore at leisure. It was quite crowded inside, but everyone was very quiet and busy enjoying the beauty.
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• It gets busy, so go early to beat the crowds. If there is a long line, it moves very quickly- don’t follow the people who will tell you they will help you skip the line- they will most likely take you to a shopping place instead, there is no way to skip the line.
• Dress respectfully. This is a functioning mosque, and you should be covered. If you aren’t, make sure to use the shawl they provide, and keep it on when you are inside.
• Act respectfully- people are there praying while you are there. They don’t allow flash photography and you are encouraged to be silent.
• Don’t go during prayer times, it will be closed. The mosque closes for 90 minutes five times a day during prayers. The times will be posted. ” contextual=”panel-primary”]
A little Wikipedia info:
At its lower levels and at every pier, the interior of the mosque is lined with more than 20,000 handmade İznik style ceramic tiles, made at Iznik (the ancient Nicaea) in more than fifty different tulip designs. The tiles at lower levels are traditional in design, while at gallery level their design becomes flamboyant with representations of flowers, fruit and cypresses. The tiles were made under the supervision of the Iznik master. The price to be paid for each tile was fixed by the sultan’s decree, while tile prices in general increased over time. As a result, the quality of the tiles used in the building decreased gradually. The upper levels of the interior are dominated by blue paint. More than 200 stained glass windows with intricate designs admit natural light, today assisted by chandeliers.
Later that night we went to an amazing restaurant on the Bosphorus river that had this view of the mosque: