The Blue Mosque in Istanbul is a "must see" while on your Mediterranean cruise taking your day shore tour in Istanbul.
It stands across from the Hagia Sophia in the famed Sultanahmet Square, so it’s convenient to the Archeological Museum, parks, restaurants and hamams (the place for exquisite massages). So you’ll be able to enjoy it all.
Your licensed professional guide will inform you that the Blue Mosque is not Blue! It is actual a grey color from the outside, however, 20,000 hand painted blue tiles from the city of Iznik (formerly known as NICEA), which in ancient times was famous for their exquisite tile work, is what today gives the Blue Mosque the appearance of being a “blue” mosque. The Blue Mosque is a masterpiece- five stories high, 250+ stained glass windows, mother of pearl reliefs and more than twenty thousand hand painted blue tiles.
Construction of the Blue Mosque actually commenced 1000 years after the Hagia Sophia. The Blue Mosque took eight years to build beginning in 1609 and included a hamam for the faithful to bathe on Fridays, a theological college, public fountains, a mausoleum, a hospital, a soup kitchen to serve the poor, the Sultan’s chamber, a primary school and the Arasta Bazaar, with rents going to support the upkeep of the mosque.
At the time of construction, the young sultan worked alongside the workmen and craftsmen, so eager and excited as he was about his project. Sadly, he only lived one year after the completion dying at the young age of 27.
It is not unusual to see hundreds of Turkish people going into the mosque to pray. Please be respectful and quiet during this prayer time. No photographs please. Remember to take your shoes off and women must wear head scarfs, so if you haven’t brought your own headscarf or are too scantily dressed you will be loaned a headscarf and/or robe as this is respectful behavior in the mosque. This is a free service; however, donations for the mosque are requested.