Blue Mosque is perhaps one of the most known landmarks of Istanbul. When you go to Turkey, visiting this place is one of the must-dos on your traveler’s list. Actually, the first thing you will discover about it is quite surprising – the mosque is not blue. At least, from the outside. Indeed, it has lots of blue tiles used for the interior. Tens of thousands of blue little pieces make up various ornaments which make the interior of this mosque so unique.
Indeed, the original name of the mosque is Sultan Ahmet. The simple name ‘Blue’ was given by lazy tourists who didn’t want to memorize this name. Sultan Ahmet I was the Sultan who projected and built this mosque back in 1616. While it is still a great place of tourism and worship, just imagine how outstanding it was four centuries ago. The mosque has 6 minarets – more than any other built at that time. In addition, it features 260 windows and the biggest courtyard among all the Ottoman mosques.
You can’t help staring at it with awe all the time as you approach, and discover more and more of this architectural beauty. Don’t forget to take your camera, as this is one of the most photogenic spots of Turkey.
Be careful while planning your visit to here. The thing is, this is not just a museum (as, for example, Aya Sofya), and Muslims gather for Namaz (the Muslim prayer) here 5 times a day. That’s why it is closed for non-Muslim visitors 45 minutes before every call to prayer, and 30 minutes afterwards. It is also closed the whole first half of the day on Fridays (the sacred day in Islam, and the noon Namaz is longer than usual on Fridays).
Concerning the call to prayer itself, here it is really unique. Four best muezzins of Turkey take turns to announce another Namaz time. It is so unusual, as mosques in most big cities utilize recordings of such calls. What is more, the voices of muezzins are spread over the city through more than 100 loudspeakers. Together they produce the sound level which is more than 100 dB (can be compared to the jet take-off or helicopter sound), which ensures that the sounds will reach at least several millions out of this bustling 15-million city.
The closest tram stop is Sultanahmet