I visited here on a moody, grey-sky day, as you can see from the shot above. This spot deserves a lot more acclaim and recognition than it gets, at least in the USA (same goes for Turkey as a whole, and Istanbul in particular). It is a gorgeous work of architecture, both from the outside and within.
It’s set at one end of a park, with the Hagia Sophia (built by the Roman Emperor Justinian) at the other end. The name Blue Mosque isn’t actually the official name – that’s the Sultahnamet mosque – it comes instead from the color of the tiles on the interior ceiling. We’ll get to that in a moment.
Here’s the up-close view of the entrance leading to the park. In this instance the grey sky bothered me, so I fixed in photoshop to the sky I thought this photograph deserved.
See what I meant about blue tiles? Those come from the area of Iznik, in another part of Turkey. This is the underside of the central dome, with four mammoth pillars holding it up (called “Elephant Feet” colloquially).
I got this shot from a nearby alcove where someone had left prayer beads on the rug. I like the simplicity here.
By the way, no shoes allowed inside (they give you a baggie for them, and have shelves to put them on). But the rug is wonderfully luxurious on your feet, which is especially a wonder given it’s trod upon by thousands of people every day.
This is the central worship area, off limits to bumbling tourists. At It functions not too differently from a church, except that folks sit on the carpet instead of in uncomfortable pews (the latter, I think was invented as a device of torment in the dark ages – at least carpet is cushioned!).
And finally, here’s one of the Elephant Feet in context, with some people for scale. The pillars are huge, seriously.
A fabulous place, and I’m glad I had a chance to see it.
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