No Place Like Dome


DAY FOURTEEN – 3rd April 2011

Things often look better in the morning, though before I get a chance to see if that’s the case, I’m woken at 6am by the call to prayer from the nearest mosque. A couple of hours later I learn that my actual hotel room will be available at noon. The manager from the Asmali Hotel collects my bags giving me some time to kill.

Sunday morning in Sultenahmet, Istanbul.

Whenever you’re in a Muslim country, the chances are that your hotel will be within close distance of the loudspeaker announcing worship three times a day, so I decide to go to church.

Well, a mosque actually, and not just any old mosque.

Line up - but take your shoes off

It’s barely 10am, but already the queues are forming outside the Blue Mosque right in the heart of old Istanbul. There’s no admission fee, but visitors are asked to follow etiquette and remove their shoes. The building was commissioned by Sulten Ahmet I in the early 17th century, and like many religious buildings, it doesn’t do modest interiors

Look up! This is not a composite picture.

Below the magnificent domes, thousands of tourists click their cameras. It’s all to easy to forget that this is still very much a living and working mosque. To the sides of the main building, women gather for silent prayer.

Old stuff, of course, tends to get worn out. and much of the Square outside the mosque in being repaired. 
Look duck - it's just like the Owd Market Square in Nottingham in't it? Where's the wheel?

Just across the main square is Haghia Sophia, which dates back to AD 537. It’s since been deconsecrated, but it no less impressive.

Not quite the Pitcher and Piano - yet...
Probably some local famous bloke

It’s simply a stunning building, with history shouting out at you from every corner, though personally I think it’d make a lovely pub.

Reminds me of the Hand and Heart

What? Did I offend someone?

Anyway, I finally have my hotel room and at least the outside looks a bit more welcoming than the last place.

Doors for windows - what's all that about then?

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