Blue Mosque Istanbul

Exploring Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque in Istanbul

Skycap News featured guest contributor, Madi had the opportunity to visit Turkey for six weeks during an internship last year. Madi is a spirited woman who “lives life” through her international travels. Immerse yourself in her world as she paints a descriptive picture of her journey along with travel tips seldom found on other travel blogs. With that said, please allow Madi to be your tour guide of Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.

The unique Ottoman culture of Turkey has always fascinated me. For a long time, I had a strong desire to witness the hundreds of years old attractions of Turkey. One such attraction which catches the attention of millions of visitors each year is Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Near Hagia Sophia, the stunning Blue Mosque can be found as well. Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque topped my list of places that I wanted to visit first in Istanbul.

How to get there?

Both Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque are located in Sultanahmet Mahallesi. This district is easily accessible by the majority of locations through tram and bus. I bought Istanbulkart to travel between places in Istanbul. From Taksim, I took F1 to Kabatas and from there I got into T1 Tram which stopped right at Sultanahmet Mahallesi. It is a place where the most famous attractions are located including Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque.

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia
View of Hagia Sophia from outside

Hagia Sophia also was known as Aya Sofia is the most famous icon of Turkey. This museum is considered the oldest museum in the world. According to history, this museum is 1400 years old. Located in Sultanahmet in Istanbul, this museum served as a church in the 6th century. Later, it was converted to a mosque by Sultan Mehmed II of that time. That’s the reason why its interior depicts both Byzantine and Islamic architecture.

I bought five days museum pass (85TL / 22 USD) from the entrance of Hagia Sophia. You can visit more than seven museums and palaces on this pass which lasts for five days. You don’t have to pay separately for each attraction and it will cost you a lot more.

Walkway outside the Emperor Door

Many have seen stunning pictures of Hagia Sophia doing rounds all over the internet. Trust me; this museum is even more beautiful in person. Pictures cannot do justice to the magnificent and historical interior of Hagia Sophia. But, we will try!

Hagia Sophia in Pictures

The mihrab located in the Apse where the altar used to stand
Hagia Sophia’s Dome with Islamic Hangings

Every corner of Hagia Sophia is depicting a splendorous piece of art. In the large dome of the museum which is the fourth-largest in the world, there are famous hangings with beautiful Islamic Calligraphy. You’ll also see unique Christian Frescoes all over the museum. The incredible architecture of the museum is representing the history of three cities; Istanbul, Constantinople, and Byzantium. Despite being the famous and most visited place, its environment is so peaceful that you’d want to sit there for hours.

One of the mosaics inside the museum

We headed off to the first floor through an old narrow passage. From the top floor, I could witness the stunning panoramic views of the museum and the Islamic hangings. Through the window from the first floor, you can easily witness the iconic Blue Mosque.

I have visited many historical museums in past but visiting Hagia Sophia was an experience like no other. You can explore the whole museum in around two hours and then move on to Blue Mosque.

Blue Mosque

Arcaded forecourt of the mosque with entrance gates

Blue Mosque is also known as Sultan Ahmed Mosque. It is located just a few minutes of walk from Hagia Sophia. The construction of the Blue Mosque was started during the ruling of Sultan Ahmed I in 1609. It took about seven years to complete this grand mosque which is now an iconic attraction of Turkey.

Though the mosque is a popular tourist attraction, Muslims pray here regularly five times a day. During prayer time, tourists cannot enter the mosque. However, they can walk around the courtyard outside. Make sure to check the timing prior to visiting. I visited the mosque right after the second call to prayer. I had to get a cape and scarf from the entrance to cover myself before entering the mosque. Entrance to the mosque is totally free for everyone.

Interior view of the mosque

When I entered this mosque, its breathtaking interior stunned me. The mosque features more than 200 hand-painted blue stained glass windows and around 20,000 blue-colored tiles. That’s the reason why this mosque was named as Blue Mosque. It contains five main domes, eight secondary domes, and six minarets that you can witness from many spots in Istanbul.

Hand-painted glass windows

Hagai Sophia Wrap Up

We sat there for half an hour witnessing the peaceful surroundings. Blue Mosque’s interior is as beautiful as Hagia Sophia but the only difference is; Mosque’s inside is more colorful than the museum. The pillars inside the mosque are decorated with beautiful Islamic calligraphy.

Unfortunately, my incredible day came to an end. It was such a surreal experience that I cannot really describe in words. Exploring Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque was the most beautiful experience of my life. Both the places are a blend of years old history, culture, and architecture which makes them top destinations to visit in Turkey.

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