Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the Blue Mosque
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is an ancient mosque located in Istanbul. It is more commonly known locally as the Blue Mosque due to the vast numbers of blue tiles that surround the internal walls.
When Ahmed I was in power between 1910 – 1915 he had this mosque built. It is of the same design of any typical mosque, being made up of the founder’s tomb, a school and hospice. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is fully functional today, and a visit is possibly the greatest way to gain a true insight of the beliefs of this stunning country.
Entry to the mosque must be made from the west side (hippodrome side), and you can take in the true splendour of the architecture on approach. This fabulous building has to be seen to be truly appreciated but there are many traditions you need to be aware of and uphold.
Muslims are called to pray five times a day; this is known as Ezan and is recognisable by the chanting that you will hear. Muslim prayer begins at sunrise and finishes at sunset and the Islamic prayer times are set in accordance with the movement of the sun and do not have a specific time format. The Presidency of Religious Affairs decides on the times of prayer so it is wise to check these although the mosque can probably verify times that it is closed to prayer during the day, remember that there is no admittance during prayer time.
You must remove your footwear prior to entering the mosque, there are bags provided to put your shoes in, but this must be observed. All females must cover their hair prior to entering a mosque, again this must be observed. Once in the mosque it is important to stay quiet and respect that this is a religious place, a place of prayer. Do not under any circumstances use flash photography in a mosque.
When leaving the mosque you should hand the headscarf covering back if you have borrowed it to a member of the staff and put your footwear covering in the designated place.
It is free to visit the mosque, whilst donations are not compulsory they are welcomed and you will even receive an official receipt.
Prayer for Muslims takes place five times daily in accordance with Islamic rules. The timings of these prayers are spread out during the day, the prayer times are used as a reminder of Allah and to provide the person praying with the opportunity to strengthen of renew their faith and ask for guidance and forgiveness.
To avoid prayer times the mosque is open Saturday through until Thursday from 9am-12.15pm, 2-4.30pm, and 5.30-6.30pm.
On Fridays however there is later opening and only two available times that you will be guaranteed entrance, these being 2.30-4.30pm, and 5.30-6.30pm.
By visiting the Sultan Ahmed Mosque you will gain a true insight into part of the culture and it is a real worthwhile experience.