This place is opened to the Muslims and non-Muslims alike so I was quite surprised and a bit lost when I saw too many tourists in the mosque. I was there for the first time to perform my prayers of the day.
The non-Muslim visitors could only enter the mosque up to a certain limit to prevent them from disturbing the worshipers while the Muslims who come to pray could enter the praying hall like any other mosques. Before entering the building, people need to get a small plastic bags for their shoes at the entrance and while they are in the mosque, they could just hold their shoes (most probably to prevent shoes from being stolen) or put them on the shoe racks provided. There are Turkish policemen keeping watch at the mosque so things are still under control even though there are a lot of people.
Entrance is free of charge but there is a donation booth if you feel you want to contribute.
|waiting for the call for prayer in the hall|
The Blue Mosque is distinct in its own way and people come here as if they are visiting an art museum. People just stand there at one spot and observe the fine work of the Turks' architecture in awe. I could not stay there for too long for the first time but I was glad that I had the opportunity to spend quite some time in the mosque for the prayers as the hotel was just a walking distance away. The mosque is not opened to the tourists during prayer times so the best time for Muslims to be there would be for the evening or morning prayers when the place is almost tourist-free. However, there were still very few tourists when I was there waiting for the evening prayers and I overheard a police officer telling them, "It is alright if you want to sit down" instead of shooing people away.
the Blue Mosque viewed from a place near the hotel,
almost at the same place, during the day
I have more pictures of the magnificent mosque snapped throughout my short stay in Istanbul. Do come back for more.