Blue Mosque

Our third day started with a visit to the Blue Mosque. We walked from the hotel up through the Arasta Bazaar, arriving at about 11:30. The line moved quickly, and we noted that it was free to borrow suitable clothing to enter if what you were wearing wasn’t appropriate.

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, better known as the Blue Mosque, was built between 1609 and 1619 on the foundations of the Grand Palace of Constantinople. It was designed by the architect  Sedefkâr Mehmed Ağa, a student of Sinan, who was strongly influenced by the Hagia Sophia. The mosque’s design includes both Byzantine and traditional Islamic elements, and it’s nickname derives from the hand painted blue tiles that cover the interior.

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The space inside the mosque was impressive: light and bright with a very different feel from the Hagia Sophia. The sheer number of tiles was notable, but to me the overall effect was a bit gaudy and uncoordinated and would have benefited from a bit more restraint. We stayed and looked around until 12:30 when the midday prayers began, and then moved on to the Mosaic Museum.