At a Glance
Located: Sultanahmet. European Side.
Great for: Seeing Ottoman Architecture
Time needed: 1 hour
Visiting Hours: This blue mosque is opening and closing 3 times a day for prayers. So, you can visit during these hours. Open between (Saturday-Thursday) : 08:30-11:30, 13:00-14:30, 15:30-16:45. On Fridays open at 13:30
Clothing: Wear whatever you want to! Clothing will be provided free of charge at the entrance to make you appropriate to enter a Mosque.
Cost: Free of charge
This magnificent mosque is located in Sultanahmet, İstanbul. It has a history that goes back to 17th century. It was designed and built by Mimar Sinan, the great architect.
The sultan of the time, Sultan Ahmet I, was only 14 years old when he came to the throne. At the time, Istanbul’s hills were full of work of arts that were built for the Sultans before Ahmet I. He wanted to have the greatest mosque ever in the history to thank the God.
It took 7 years 5 months and 6 days to build this greatness.
Rules and Regulations
Let’s go through what we need to do before/while visiting this mosque.
The following is what you will see as you walk toward the mosque on many signs. Please do not worry, clothing which fits on top of what ever you are wearing is available just before the entrance.
When men visit the mosque, they should have long trousers.
Shorts are not suitable which do not cover the knees for visiting the mosque.
When women visit the mosque, they should cover their heads with a scarf. Head coverings are available inside the mosque. Before you go in, you might borrow one in the entrance. So, place the cover on the top of your head before you enter. You don’t have to cover your face. It is just meant for covering your hair. Arms/shoulders must also be covered.
The good news! A lot of blogs I have seen advise you to wear trousers & long sleeved shirts when visiting the Mosque which is very outdated information! Please dress appropriate for the weather, if visiting Istanbul May-September the temperature rarely gets below 30C so please do wear shorts if it makes you more comfortable.
Before entering the Blue Mosque you pass a clothing stall where the staff will quickly asses your outfit (a quick glance) and then either hand you clothes to put over your current outfit or tell you to continue. This service is free and you will not receive disapproving looks, it is standard.
As you can see my shorts were deemed fine on that day, on others it would be seen as too short. Just depends on the day really! But either way, you do not have to dress specially for visiting the mosque as they cater for tourists! You will notice we are all holding our shoes in plastic bags, this is explained below!
Before you enter the blue mosque, you need to take of your shoes. In the entrance, free plastic bags are provided for you to put your shoes in and carry with yourself while visiting inside.
Now, please take care with this! Look for signs and please do NOT put your shoes on any part of the mosque! You will be shouted at if you accidentally step inside the Mosque. The Mosque has to be clean for praying, if you step inside you will not be thanked!
Please, remain quiet inside and avoid taking pictures of people who are praying. After exiting the mosque, you can give the head cover back to the staff and then wear your shoes.
As you can see from the photo above you should not step past this barrier, this is reinforced by many signs in different languages. Despite this I often see tourists step past this which is sad to see. Please remember the Blue Mosque is not a museum, it is an active Mosque where people go to prayer. The mosque is split into 3 sections:
- Main open space – This is reserved for Men praying
- Section at the rear of the Mosque, this is for Women to Prayer, it is partitioned off so that Men can not see Women and vice versa.
- Middle section – This is a space for Tourists to visit and appreciate the Mosque. Please remain quiet and show respect to those practicing their faith.
Hope you enjoy your visit!