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The Blue Mosque
Monday, June 24
Monday dawned over Istanbul. A carbon-copy of the previous day: same temperature, same clear blue sky. No change whatsoever. After another high-quality breakfast at the Hotel Amira, we were off.

First up was the nearby Blue Mosque. Its real name is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, and it was built in the early 1600s. Unusually, it has six minarets (the usual maximum is four).

We had walked past this beautiful structure many times by this point, but had not yet gone inside. We were ready to explore it now, having read up on the procedure and requirements. Essentially it boils down to this: both women and men must have their legs covered; no tanks tops, even for men. Women must additionally wear head and shoulder coverings of some sort. And, all visitors must remove their shoes when inside the mosque.
Re-approaching the Blue Mosque
Mosque visitation rules
Foot-washing stations
We first walked past the long line of washing stalls, where the faithful wash their feet before going in for prayer. We then entered via one of the mosque's side entrances, where we had to go through a security gate-like area that had a dispenser for plastic bags (in which to place your shoes), and a dispenser for disposable skirts and headscarves. Despite having a big tour group ahead of us, it all went quite smoothly, and soon we were in the quiet interior of the mosque.
Blue Mosque Minaret
Entrance station, Blue Mosque
Interior, Blue Mosque
The interior of the mosque was a little bit darker than I had expected. The exterior windows were not that large relative to the inside volume, and the lights consisted of rings of small yellow electric lamps, hung all the way down to a point only about 3 metres above the floor. This, I was to find out, was characteristic of all mosques.

The entire floor of the interior was covered in a soft, comfy carpet. Walking around in sock feet was actually quite pleasant.
Asmir and Miriam, Blue Mosque
Interior, Blue Mosque
Interior Ceiling, Blue Mosque
As you would expect, the interior of the mosque is richly decorated. The accents in the intricate calligraphy on the domes above were blue, as were most of the color in the tilework on the walls lower down - hence the name "The Blue Mosque".
Lots of praying space
If one is interested...
Jenn, Blue Mosque
Nice dress
After spending some time admiring the interior, we moved outside to admire the equally beautiful forecourt - large walled-off open area with a small structure in the center known as an ablution fountain.
courtesy JInnes
Main Entrance, Blue Mosque
Islamic Calligraphy, Blue Mosque
Forecourt, Blue Mosque
The interior walls of the forecourt were constructed as a kind of covered arcade, or peristyle. The arcade was roofed using a series of small domes. When seen from the air, the effect of these little domes along with the large main dome and surrounding mid-size domes is quite distinctive. It is almost as if the structure looks like a cluster of perfect bubbles from above.

Again, I was to discover that all of these basic elements are in place in every one of the big mosques around Istanbul.
Asmir at forecourt, Blue Mosque
Asmir at forecourt, Blue Mosque
Forecourt, Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque Forecourt
Hanne and Miriam, Blue Mosque
Jenn, Blue Mosque
Entrance, Blue Mosque
Asmir and Miriam, Blue Mosque
Jenn, Blue Mosque
After taking many pictures in the beautiful forecourt, we headed off to our next destination.
courtesy JInnes
Obelisk of Theodosius
Jenn at Hippodrome
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