Visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul Turkey; Tips and Photos

by wired2theworld on July 9, 2012

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Determined to make the most of our sightseeing time while staying in Sultanahmet, we made sure to visit the Blue Mosque on one of our days there. Like the Hagia Sofia, the Topkapi Palace, and the Basilica Cistern, the Blue Mosque is on just about every tour and must-see list of the city and there’s a good reason why; it’s flippin’ magnificent.

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque as seen opposite the Hagia Sophia

The dome or the minarets can be seen from just about anywhere in the area. The entrance to the courtyard in front of the mosque is through the Hippodrome, once a giant Roman stadium, now a public square.

Blue Mosque

This fountain is outside the entrance to the mosque in the Hippodrome.

Blue Mosque

Plaque over entrance to the courtyard.

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

Courtyard entrance to Blue Mosque.

Non Muslim visitors are asked to enter the mosque not through the entrance inside the courtyard, but from one outside and on the right. Women are asked to cover their heads (scarves are provided) and everyone is asked to remove their shoes at the entrance. Plastic bags are provided for your shoes, but they’re tiny.

Tip #1: Bring one of those lightweight reusable shopping bags, the kind which fold up into about a 1″x2″ pouch, to slip your shoes into (wish I’d thought of this before going). The bags they gave us were small and broke easily. We could have used the reusable bags when visiting other mosques as well.

Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque gets its name from the predominantly blue Isnik tiles which line the walls and domes of the interior.

There is a large central area in the front of the mosque reserved for men’s prayers and tourists are asked not to walk through there. In the back of the mosque, behind carved wood screens is the women’s area. The visitors area is in the back, in front of the women’s space, and visitors are allowed to sit on the floor or walk through.

Blue Mosque

The women's prayer area in the Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

The dome for which it is named the Blue Mosque

Tip #2: Don’t just walk through quickly, especially if you are there during prayer time. Take a seat on the carpet, listen to the Imam chant, and gaze up at the incredibly intricate tile work.

Blue Mosque

Heavy wood door at the Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

Tip #3: Look for the details like the carved wooden door above or the marble fountain below.

Blue Mosque

Fountain inside the Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque in black and white

Blue Mosque

Minaret, outside gardens, Kristina inside the mosque.

Blue Mosque

Minaret outside the exit.

Blue Mosque

The back of the Blue Mosque seen from the roof terrace of the Sari Konak hotel.

Blue Mosque

The back of the Blue Mosque as seen from the entrance to the Arasta market.

Other tips:

The Blue Mosque is open daily, 8:30am-noon, 1:45pm-4:30pm for tourists.

Please dress modestly (shoulders and knees covered for all, head covered for women) and behave respectfully when visiting as this is an active religious structure.

If you are there during prayer time, keep your voice low and try to avoid photographing people while they are praying.

 

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dave July 9, 2012 at 8:00 am

I remember visiting the Blue Mosque. So crowded at that time. Stunning dome interior though. Islamic architecture is perhaps my favorite around the world. Just beating out European Gothic architecture.

Some great tips here for first time visitors that will save a lot of time and trouble.

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2 wired2theworld July 9, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Dave- I am a new fan of Islamic architecture and have always loved Gothic cathedrals. I especially love the mix of European and Islamic in southern Spain. The Mezquita in Cordoba is one of my favorite churches.

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3 Myra July 9, 2012 at 9:44 pm

The Blue Mosque is one of those places that I *sigh* every time I see a picture of it’s dome, mosaics, or imagine myself listening to the Imam chant. I’ve been wanting to visit it in person for years…some day! (Great tip about bringing your own bag to carry your shoes.)

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4 wired2theworld July 9, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Thanks Myra! I was hoping I could use my own tip when I go to Morocco on my next trip, but I’ve read that non Muslims are not allowed in the Mosques there. 🙁

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5 Kent @ No Vacation Required July 10, 2012 at 12:36 pm

That “heavy wood door’ is gorgeous. We’ll benefit from your tips when we visit.

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6 Andrew July 10, 2012 at 12:45 pm

What cool pictures. We were there in April. The tiny bags for the shoes were not a problem, but we wish we had known about the free scarves. My wife ended up buying one in the souvenir stores as you go in. It was amazing to see how many girls had the scarves tied around their waists without a care though.

We got in the side entrance, but didn’t realize the front was supposed to only be for Muslims. It was simply a longer line than the side. I would have liked to stay for prayer, but they started shooing us out. Maybe it was noon, I don’t exactly remember.

I really enjoyed just sitting in the courtyard watching the people and enjoying the shade.

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7 Anise July 10, 2012 at 6:07 pm

The Blue Mosque is my 2nd favorite building in the world for sheer aesthetic beauty (the first being the Taj Mahal); thanks for getting such great photos of it. I love the intricacy of the work and the immense complexity of all those tiles, as well as the very different feel architecturally than from most Catholic cathedrals or Buddhist temples – there’s no central focal point in a mosque. It feels like a more communal space (despite the gender segregation).

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8 Clare July 12, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Wonderful! I’ve always wanted to go here. How where they about taking photos? Obviously dont want to be annoying about it

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9 wired2theworld July 12, 2012 at 6:50 pm

I tried to be conscious of where and when i was taking photos which is why you don’t see too many people in my shots. I don’t think anyone cares if you take pictures of the ceiling! 🙂

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10 John F. Norman August 4, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Wow, a very spectacular place. Why was it called the Blue Mosque? Do you have any idea? The whole facade looks colorful to me. I kind of associate blue as something sad, mournful but this one is just too brilliant to be just blue.

John

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11 wired2theworld August 4, 2012 at 8:59 pm

John- I believe it’s called the “Blue Mosque” because of the famous blue Izmir tiles used all over the inside main dome and the rest of the interior.

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