Monday, May 21, 2012

The Blue Mosque

Our next stop, a short walk away, was the Blue Mosque--the largest in Turkey, built by Sultan Ahmed I in the early 1600s.  Suleiman, our guide, filled us in on some of the history and purpose of this mosque, while we were stopped in the courtyard--the only time today it threatened to drizzle on us, despite the gloomy weather reports, and the curious appearance of our mascot.

Suleiman stressed how many other social functions clustered around this mosque, beyond the prayer space itself.  A curious comment, that "mosques are built for men"--that women could come here to worship, but there is far less space segregated for women, and the less room for ablutions (ritual washing) before prayer.  To enter the mosque, we all removed our shoes and were given plastic bags to carry them along, as we would exit on the other side of the building.  Women were offered scarves or wraps to cover their heads or bare legs.

The dome, Suleiman suggests, was the only practical way to roof over such a large space, without using many internal supports.

The mosque itself is named after the some 21,000 blue tiles used inside.  Notice also the hanging lines--now supporting electric lights, but once meant for oil lamps, which had to be low enough for some patient folks to light.

While outside, the perhaps more secular images of the nation appear--
later, bob

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