>Travel Pictures



Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque - named not for the slightly bluish outer roof and walls but rather for the ornate tile work inside - was built directly across from the Hagia Sophia by Sultan Ahmet I in the early 1600's on the site of the former Byzantine Palace of Justinian. Regardless of the differences in styles, technologies, and time periods, it makes up the second part of one of the most fantastic square blocks of historical construction in the world. 

Looking at it from the square between it and the Hagia Sophia - as in the 3 pictures below - most visitors see the north wall,  which is never bathed in sunlight. 

in the morning...

around noon...

and in the evening...

The Blue Mosque was stunningly lit up at night.  Seagulls whirled around it and their spiraling flight made it appear as if a magic wand was casting gold dust over it. As they endlessly circle around the soaring minarets, it results in an eerie 'disco light' effect when photographed over a long period of time.

Only mosques consigned by the royal family could have 4 minarets.  All others only had one.  The Blue Mosque has six, which actually caused quite a rumpus back in the days of construction because some folks thought it was sacrilegious to challenge the architecture of the mosques in Mecca (which also had 6 minarets).  These royal Mosques served a number of purposes.  They were tombs for the patron Sultan and also had huge kitchens to feed the poor, medical facilities and hospitals, public hammans for washing and theological schools. Shops and caravansarai lined the outside walls and the rents from these facilities paid for the mosque's operations. 

Entering through the main door (rather than from the entrance that faces the Hagia Sophia), the 'cascading' domes present a stunning sight as one passes the ablutions fountain and into the mosque itself.

The layout is classic Ottoman style; a fore-court with an ablutions fountain and covered walkways all around.  The interior has a vast array of blue Iznik tiles, hence its name the Blue Mosque. Inside the mosque, the huge dome is held up by four enormous pillars, testament both to the weight of the rock above and the unthinkable achievement of the dome of the Hagia Sophia - supported solely by smaller sub-domes and not by leg-like pillars.

Mom and Alea always wore headscarves when we went into a mosque out of respect for the faith, but Breck didn't want to be left out of the traditions, so he, too, wore his scarf over his head whenever we went into a mosque:)

And the Blue Mosque is indeed still a working house of worship, where people come to pray and meditate.

Breck loved the Blue Mosque and used it as his major landmark in Istanbul.  When we got back to Belgrade, the first thing he did was to pull up KidPix and draw the mosque.  His memory was stunning; he remembered the 6 minarets, the 3 balconies and the multiple layers of domes.

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