I visited the Blue Mosque, more formally known as Sultan Ahmed Mosque, in Istanbul on a cold, cloudy morning. I tried to, at least. Unlike its architectural rival across the street, Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque is still in use. Prayer services take place several times a day, and it’s not exactly encouraged for visitors to enter during those sacred times. Service was in session. I saw the local men washing their feet in the fountains lining the exterior. I gawked at its intimidating minarets reaching for the sky. I decided to wander off to the Spice Market and come back later.
I was finally able to arrive in between services and see the behemoth’s interior. Here are some of the photos I took during my visit.
It was built in the early 1600s with a mix of Ottoman and Byzantine design, but it looks as vivid as ever inside. The soaring ceilings were filled with mismatched mosaics made of thousands of handmade ceramic tiles that somehow, despite the vast range of patterns and colors, all fit together. Stained glass lined the walls in a series of stacked layers. Massive chandeliers suspended from the domes above hung surprisingly low to the ground. People talked in hushed whispers. Even though there wasn’t a service in progress, some men still prayed on their knees.
After spending some quiet time soaking in the architectural masterpiece, I walked outside and saw a wedding in front of it as I left.