School of Visual Arts
209 East 23 Street
New York, NY 10010-3994
My favorite site in Istanbul was the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, more commonly known as the Blue Mosque. Its nickname is due to the enormous amount of blue iznik tiles that cover its interior. It features a stunning courtyard as well as breathtaking exterior architecture. Unlike the Hagia Sophia, it is still a functioning Mosque and requests that all who enter remove their shoes, and that women cover their heads. There is a separate entrance for visitors, which allows the viewer to see the Mosque in a way that would be impossible were its entire floors covered with people. Unfortunately, due to theft the Mosque’s floor has been covered with a red carpet that I feel detracts from its overall beauty.
The iznik tiles that adorn the Mosque’s walls are heavy with symbolism, and every flower means something different. Some of these valuable tiles have been stolen and replaced, creating a different effect on some parts of the walls than others. The calls to prayer that resonate from this Mosque and the countless others dotting the city of Istanbul are for me one of the most enchanting parts of the city. We were lucky enough to be present for one of these calls during our trip to the Blue Mosque.