Having travelled through different parts of Europe, apart from a few distinguishing landmarks and buildings, they’re very similar in design. The churches abound, the supermarkets all become one and you would be forgiven for getting your cities mixed up.
When I went to Istanbul earlier this year, the things that stood out for me, and many others I’m sure, are the mosques of the city. Mosques everywhere, from colossal sightseeing structures to smaller mosques that locals use to perform their daily prayers.
As Turkey has a large population of Muslims in the country, mosques dominate the country as the most popular place of worship. In Turkish, a mosque is called a Camii, and pronounced as “jah-mi”. If you’re ever in the city that straddles both European and Asian continents, you will be rewarded with mosques aplenty. Here are some of my favourites from my trip in August.
This mosque was my absolute favourite as it is situated at a higher level than other mosques, so you get to see more of the city from the top. And at the risk of being totally conceited, the selfies you can take here are beyond magical.
Sultan Ahmet Camii [Blue Mosque]
Sultan Ahmet mosque is the resting place of the Sultan, and has six magnificent minarets [large spike structures]. The interior of the mosque is phenomenal, complete with high ceilings that reveal Arabic writing. You could spend hours in there and find something new and interesting at each turn.
Yeni Cami [New Mosque]
Located near the Eminönü tram stop, the name of the mosque means “New Mosque”. It has a convenient location that allows you to go straight from the mosque to the Spice Bazaar and pick up a few goodies.
A special mention has to go out for the amazing Hagia Sophia. This structure has gone through many transformations, first as a church, then a mosque and finally as a museum. The domes are decorated with pink, in contrast to its neighbour the Sultan Ahmet camii. The interior of Ayasofya is where the fun really begins, the building has its Christian and Islamic past literally written on the walls. The different influences are just part of its charm.
Insider tip: If you want to really appreciate the way the different mosques enhance the landscape of Istanbul, just head to a bridge! Haliç Bridge to be precise. You can take in the different mosques all at once, and they look amazing from far away during the daytime and night time. The minarets act as little signposts for them.
Have you been to Istanbul before? Which was your favourite mosque? Or have you been elsewhere that has other mosques that took your breath away? Let me know!