Inside the Blue Mosque – Istanbul

The Blue Mosque gets its name from the blue tile used to decorate the interior, though I’m not sure the quality of this photo shows that very well. We walked through the mosque on our whirlwind walking tour of Istanbul.

The area you see in this photo is for worship, though the mosque itself is as much a tourist attraction now as it is a house of prayer. You can see a few men kneeling in prayer while children pass the time by running on the carpeted floor. You won’t see any women in this area because, according to Koranic tradition, females are segregated from the males in Mosques. Incidentally, if you look closely, you can see a large vertical niche in the far wall. This is called the mihrab, which orients those praying to Mecca.

Istanbul (which means “in the city”) is a fascinating place because you see conservative customs, such as the segregation of the sexes in houses of worship, but you also see the evidence of centuries of western European influence. In Istanbul you can sit in an Internet cafe, surf the web and hear the muezzin’s call to prayer echoing through the city. Many inhabitants yearn for stronger ties to the European Union; and others seek to purge Western influences and return to strict Koranic law.

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