Istanbul is a culmination of Byzantine, Constantinople, and Ottoman art and culture. Although there were many eye-catching attractions in the city, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul stands out from the rest of the list.
Tips for Visiting: Come in the morning before everyone goes in. The serenity of the place can be deafening with only a few visitors inside. You will be asked to put your shoes in a plastic bag before you walk on the carpeted floor.
Remember: Since this is a holy place for Muslims, you’re expected to dress decently. If you are exposing flesh (including men wearing shorts), get or borrow a shawl near the entrance and cover the exposed parts of your skin before going in. The entrance is free.
The Blue Mosque in Istanbul goes with other two names: the Sultan Ahmet Mosque and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque.
10 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul
1. The name “Blue Mosque” is not because of its exterior, which is not even blue. It is because of the blue tiles inside.
2. Sultan Ahmed was only 19 years old when he commissioned the construction of such a marvel.
3. Although it is open year-round, during prayer times, it is closed for at least 90 minutes.
4. Flash photography is prohibited in the interior of the mosque because it could disturb the worshipers.
5. Some notable personalities like Pope Benedict XVI, and former US President Barrack Obama visited the mosque in 2006 and 2009, respectively.
6. There are 260 windows in the mosque. However, they are not the original 17thcentury stained ones.
7. This building shows the perfect features of both Byzantine and Ottoman architectures.
8. Many Hollywood movies have featured this mosque, including The World Is Not Enough 007. This is because it is the most visited landmark of Istanbul; and thus, Turkey.
9. There’s a pavilion built inside the mosque dedicated to the Sultan who used to rest here before and after the prayer. It has two floors, the first one has rooms for resting and the lower one was used to address governance issues.
10. One of the stories associated with the mosque has it that the Sultan originally wanted to build the minarets from gold. However, because of the scarcity of funds and unlikelihood of the consideration, the architecture tricked him into allowing six usual minarets.
After visiting the Blue Mosque, go across the street and see the amazing Hagia Sophia.
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If solo traveling isn’t your turf, you should join a guided tour if you have little time in the city and want less hassle. Istanbul can be overwhelming for first-time visitors, and the views, people, smells, sounds, and tastes have their way of charming your complete senses. There are so many things and places to discover here! Make sure to list down which ones you want to see first.