March 26, 2012

Blue Mosque, Istanbul. June, 2007

The Blue Mosque (so called because of the color that radiates from the extensive tilework within) is one of Istanbul’s top tourist attractions. Consequently there are tour buses lined up outside, visitors aplenty at the entrance, and inside...well, it’s hard to distinguish the sauntering crowds from those at the Grand Bazaar. The mosque is also still a functioning house of worship and a large section of its interior is, admirably, roped off to keep away the throng. You must remove your shoes before entering. Sleeveless tops and shorts are no-nos. (There are shawls available for use at the entrance.) Disturbing flash photos are discouraged. And while admission is free, there are groups from the community soliciting donations at the exit. A beautiful and important building, yes. But I'm glad I didn't bypass many other smaller mosques nearby that seemed all the more beautiful for being almost empty except for those few faithful engaged in daily prayer.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Sandy, the photo says it all. The Blue Mosque group of worshipers clad in blue at left, girls draped in blue wraps, a man kneeling. To the right of them an infidel slattern in salmon outfit with exposed décolleté saunters past. You have reminded me of when I visited the Muhammed Ali Mosque in Cairo many years ago with a group of sweaty German tourists -- all in shorts, T-shirts and sturdy shoes, armed with cameras and knapsacks. A man at the door bound scuffs over our shoes and we trooped by the bathing fountain and were about to enter the mosque itself when I heard a child shriek. It was a small boy sitting on the edge of the fountain while his mother washed his feet. He was pointing at us and saying something in an excited voice. His mother responded softly to reassure him. I don't understand Arabic, but the slack-jawed look of incredulity on his little face said it all. Even a child could see we were being unspeakably rude and disrespectful. That kid is now a grown man, no doubt protesting in the streets of Cairo. And we wonder why Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise.