Blue Mosque (called Sultan Ahmet Camii by locals) is a beautiful mosque with six minarets, as opposed to the usual two or four of most of the city’s mosques (by some linguistic mistake, legends said). I liked it even more than Hagia Sophia.
The interior is decorated with tulip motifs and handmade tiles (by the way, do you know that tulip was originated from Turkey, although the Netherlands made it famous worldwide).
If you’re only a tourist, be sure to avoid praying time of the mosque, you can find daily praying schedule on internet.
The mosque and Hagia Sophia face each other across a grean and pretty square, with a fountain and mosaic of whirling dervishes:
A friend of mine scolded me when he saw this picture of a group of girls. He said Muslim girls don’t like to be taken pictures by strangers. While he might be correct, I’m sure this group of girl were happily selfie-ing at that moment and looking smilefully into my camera.
Don’t they look shining?
Women should wear head scarf and cover their shoulder/legs while inside the complex. The center of the basilica has a mark said in english “No tourists in this area”, but I suspect it was “No woman” instead, because I saw no woman in that center, and there were some separated “Woman prayer zone”.
You should also take off your shoes inside the mosque. That can cause a little bit of stuck crowd in front the entrance, all moving shoes at the same time, but it’s no way a long queue. Now I must confess a sin: while inside the mosque, all I can feel was the different smells of people’s socks on that carpet. I wanted to admire the tiles, the painting, but the smells were so impotent in such a close place, and my nose is more sensitive than I needed it to be. Sigh.
After the mosque, I wanted to visit Cistern Basilica nearby (called Yerebatan Sarnıcı by local), after reading Dan Brown’s Inferno. Seems like many Asian tourists think the same. There were a big group of Chinese, a group of Korean, then only me, in the cistern. Beforehand I had thought that people hadn’t liked Dan Brown…
Cistern Basilica was at first a basilica of Early Roman Age, then converted to a underground cistern of old Constantinople. You can still see both, the water reservoir was intact and full of slowly swinging fishes in the darkest place of the basilica. Really eerie place, no less thanks to “Inferno”,
or to the Medusa columns
(no idea why this one was turned sideline:
or to the Column of Tears, which, as legends said, is never dried of tears. You’ll see its surface never dried indeed. It is engraved with eyes and tears motifs. As if that’s not eerie enough, the column was meant to be a tribute to the hundreds of slaves who died during the construction of the Basilica Cistern.
… are you still there?