The Blue Mosque is Istanbul’s most recognised icon. The silhouette is renowned around the world - eight secondary domes cascading down from the 43 metre tall main dome in the centre, with six slender minarets puncturing the billowing roof. The majesty of the near-400 year old mosque is an unmissable sight.
There’s no experience more magical than hearing the Call to Prayer echoing around Istanbul in the early hours of the morning as the city stills in worship. The Blue Mosque is at the heart of this, orchestrating prayers across the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul. The mosque’s name comes from the shimmering blue tiles that adorn its interior; the walls are home to some 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles in more than 50 different designs. The decorative splendour is coupled by some 260 windows, creating a light and airy place of worship - it’s hard to find a more serene place in the bustling city. The Blue Mosque is in the heart of Old Istanbul, directly across from the equally impressive Aya Sofya and a short walk from the Grand Bazaar. The easiest way to get to the area is to take the T1 tramline to Sultanahmet station.
Visitors should bear in mind that the Blue Mosque still operates as a place of worship as well as a tourist attraction. The mosque is closed for about half an hour either side of prayer times each day. Friday, the Islamic Holy day, is the busiest day for worshippers. Shoes are to be removed upon entry, and women are required to wear a head covering. Entrance to the mosque is free, however there is a place for a small donation at the end – the money from these donations goes directly back into maintenance and restoration of the mosque, so it may be worth giving a little bit of spare change to ensure the majesty of the Blue Mosque can be enjoyed for many, many years to come.