The Blue Mosque (Called Sultanahmet Camii in Turkish) is an historical mosque in Istanbul. The mosque is known as the Blue Mosque because of blue tiles surrounding the walls of interior design. Mosque was built between 1609 and 1616 years, during the rule of Ahmed I. just like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasa and a hospice. Besides still used as a mosque, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque has also become a popular tourist attraction in Istanbul.
Besides being tourist attraction, it’s also an active mosque, so it’s closed to non-worshippers for a half hour or so during the five daily prayers.
Best way to see great architecture of the Blue Mosque is to approach it from the Hippodrome. (West side of the mosque) As if you are non-Muslim visitor, you also have to use same direction to enter the Mosque.
Tourists always wonder how to visit Blue Mosque. There are also many other questions such as if there is any entrance fee, dress code, where to put my shoes etc. Here below are the answers of all these simple questions…
1) Plan your visit to the Sultanahmet area of Istanbul, so that you better arrive mid-morning. Pray happens five times a day with the first call to prayer at sunrise and the last one at nightfall. The mosque closes for 90 minutes at each pray time. Avoid visiting a mosque at pray time (Especially Midday praying on Friday) or within a half hour after the ezan is chanted from the Mosque minarets.
2) Before step in to Mosque, take off your shoes and put in plastic bags provided at the entrance (Free of Charge). This is required of all persons as part of Muslim tradition when entering a mosque. There is also no charge to enter the Blue Mosque.
3) If you are women wear a head covering when entering to Blue Mosque. Head coverings are available at the Blue Mosque entrance for free. Place the fabric cover on top of your head with equal portions hanging on both sides.
Take one side and wrap it around your neck, tossing it behind your back with covering your shoulders. Don’t cover your face, the covering is meant to hide your hair only.
4) When you are inside the mosque, remain quiet and don’t use flash photography. Since this is a place of worship, avoid staring or taking picture of those who are praying. Visit the mosque respectfully and quietly. At the Mosque exit, you can put used plastic bags in designated bin bags and return head covers to duty staff.
5) You can do donation to help maintain the Mosque at the exit door. It is not compulsory, but if you make donation you will get the official receipt for it.