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.