Friday, July 27, 2018

Respecting a Different Religion

Where to start telling you about Istanbul? This city is so rich in history, so old and so full of ancient buildings and sites. That alone is almost overwhelming.

So let me begin with the building next to our hotel - about two minutes away. The Blue Mosque is one of the most popular touristic sites in Istanbul. Its correct name is Sultan Ahmed Mosque (in Turkish Sultan Ahmet Cami) after Sultan Ahmed I. during whose rule the mosque was constructed between 1609 and 1616. It still functions as a mosque where the muezzin calls for prayer five times during the day.

We got our first real glimpse of it on our first night in the city from one of the many roof top restaurants.

Most of the mosque was under construction when we were there, but we were still able to get into it and see the few parts that were open to the public at that time. We first entered the big courtyard or forecourt from where we could admire the beautiful architecture of the mosque.

I especially loved the ceiling in the arcades around the courtyard.

In order to be allowed inside the mosque you have to follow the dress code - women have to cover their heads and shoulders and clothes should fall beneath the knee; men had to wear long pants. Kaefer and I both had our scarves with us, but for those who hadn't there were free and freshly laundered coverings to borrow for both women and men. You also have to remove your shoes.

Then we stepped inside.

It was simply amazing. The mosque's walls are lined with handmade, hand painted ceramic tiles - just imagine all the work! The dominant color is blue, but there are so many more shades to discover.

Most designs are some sort of flowers with the tulip being the most popular one. Wherever we looked there were these tiles - on the walls, along the arches and in the ceiling of the domes. The hundreds of lamps bathed them in a beautiful warm light and gave the entire mosque an almost magical and very peaceful atmosphere.

The "non-tile" parts of the interior are just as beautiful even if not quite as amazing. I love the simple elegance of the arches.

Unfortunately the main dome and some of the "side" domes were under construction, so we were only able to just see a very small part of the interior of the mosque. I can only imagine how amazingly beautiful the entire mosque must be.

The prayer area, however, was open to men who wanted to worship. There were signs to please respect this area and don't take any photos. And what did some of the men do? They stepped into the prayer area, walked around the entire place as if they owned it, with their cell phones on a selfie stick, taking photos. I got so mad when I saw it. But what really ticked me off completely was a young guy who entered the women's prayer area - a much smaller area closed off with a barrier! - with his selfie stick phone. I was fuming.

What is so freakin' difficult about respecting the rules of a different religion in its place of worship? Why does someone has to be so rude? If someone is not able to respect the rules and customs in a different country then please stay home. Or at least don't visit their place of worship. I simple can't understand this total disregard and I certainly can't stomach it.

Those inconsiderate tourists overshadowed the visit to the mosque, but what I remember of it is mainly its beauty and its peacefulness.

When we left the mosque through the gate we saw the Hagia Sophia right opposite the Blue Mosque. Another stunning building that I will tell you about later.

And in the evening, from the roof top terrace of our hotel, we enjoyed the view of this stunning place with its six minarets.


Elephant's Child said...

Islamic art and architecture awes me. It is often so incredibly intricate, beautiful and imbued with serenity.
I have rarely seen people with selfie sticks behaving ethically. They are a personal (and strong) prejudice of mine.

My name is Erika. said...

I enjoyed these photos. What a fascinating city.

Red Rose Alley said...

I can see why you got so upset when there were signs saying not to take pictures in the prayer area and some did.

Carola, your photos are interesting and truly remarkable, and they should be in a magazine, my dear.


Sarah Huizenga said...

The lack of respect totally boggles my mind. What beautiful architecture!

Magic Love Crow said...

Wow, breath taking!!! I can't believe what people do?? No respect at all!!! So very sad! They should have been asked to leave! Thank you for these amazing pictures! Really loved them! Big Hugs!

Jeanie said...

These photos and the settings are so magnificent I simply don't have words. What an incredible experience to stand in this structure, to note all the remarkable details and exquisite craftsmanship. Wow.

I've been thinking of you lots lately. I'm not sure where in CA you live but I've been worried, given that there are more fires. Sending good wishes and hopes you and all you love are safe.

Cheri said...

I'm sorry the serenity of this place had to be usurped by the ignorant. I've often wished there were posted guards who would simply drag the non-compliant away and toss them out the front door!

Peace Thyme said...

There are so many people in this world (mostly the western world) who think that rules don't apply to them and that only their own traditions and mores should be respected. Come to think of it, it is difficult to find respect for anything from these bozos!

Sue (this n that) said...

Oh such wonderful sights Carola! I am fascinated by your travel posts. Those mosaics!
We too have seen disrespectful tourists when we visited SE Asia - I so agree with your frustration.

Thank you for sharing your gorgeous photos :D)