When you visit a place that has a couple thousand years of history, but you have only two days, you tend to visit the more famous sites, which unfortunately also tend to be the most crowded sites as well. My Skeptours trip to Istanbul last fall was like this. I wrote previously on my arrival in Istanbul.
I was able to arrive on a Wednesday, with our boat not leaving until Sunday morning. Our group was meeting up Saturday for a private tour with a guide, so I had a couple days to see some sights before the weekend crowds showed up.
The first site on the menu was the Sultanahmet Mosque, which is commonly known as the Blue Mosque. One of the icons of Istanbul, it was built in the early 17th century, and featured six minarets rather than the more common four (or fewer). The story is that, at the time, only the mosque in Mecca had six of these distinctive towers, so a seventh one was added.
The tile work in the mosque is beautiful but a bit hard to photograph because of the cables strung throughout the place, holding the lights. And, all photo essays seem to have lots of pictures of the blue mosaics, so I paid more attention to those things that seemed, well, foreign to me, having not traveled outside of North America and northern Europe so far.
Although the mosque is used daily, it was interesting to note that they have incorporated the desire for visitors to view the interior of the mosque, by having scarves and shoe bags available. There were few people at the mosque, so my friends and I were able to wander around for quite a while and see things close up. Later, when we returned with friends from the cruise, it was Saturday and quite crowded, and not enjoyable.
I am no respecter of religion, but I do respect that the building belongs to others, and found the loud voices annoying. Do yourself a favor, and save the visit for a weekday.
The blue tile work is beautiful, and seems to have somewhat of a calming effect, even though the designs and sheer quantity of the places gives your eyes no place to rest. As you can see in the photos I’ve included, the electric lights hanging from the ceiling interfere with the view.
There are also reinforcing steel beams that have been added to support the fixture. Istanbul has periodic earthquakes, so the stability of these important sites is a concern.
This was a beautiful and interesting place, but as a history buff, I was much more interested in the Hagia Sophia, which will be the subject of my next blog post.
- Doing Instanbul (twodifferentgirls.com)
- How to Get the Most Out of Istanbul: A Highly Opinionated List (eatingasia.typepad.com)
- Istanbul: Lunch, the Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, Dinner at Mozaik, and Hagia Sofia (mmm-yoso.typepad.com)
- Istanbul, A Love Letter (bootsnall.com)
- Istanbul – Istanbul, Turkey (travelpod.com)
- Photo a day, May 8, 2012 – The Blue Mosque, Istanbul (travelingwithkrushworth.wordpress.com)