Greetings! Natalia speaking-
In realization that we have less than two weeks remaining, I decided to allow myself a homework break for some exploring. One of my favorite things about wandering through Istanbul has been the frequency of mosques wherever you are- it only takes about 10 minutes of walking- usually less- to get from one mosque to another. I decided to set a challenge for myself to see how long it would take me to enter 10 mosques. I set a goal to visit 10 mosques in 60 minutes- which I found to be incredibly unrealistic once I began my adventure. None the less, I accomplished sight seeing of 10 mosques- after 5 hours, a coffee break, and lots of rain.
I set a few rules for myself:
1. If I got tired of walking, I would hop on the first bus that passed me, as to not bias my destination.
2. Enter only mosques I have not entered before.
3. Enter every mosque I run into/pass by.
.4. Use no map. (I broke this rule to come home because at that point I had no sense of where I was.)
Just off the main street near our apartment, I took the first bus that showed up- Eminönü bound. I hopped off near the Eminönü ferry station and headed up into Fatih running into the first mosque of the day withing 15 minutes:
This is actually the first mosque I’ve entered during my time in Istanbul in which I was the only one in the building. It was incredible quiet- almost eerily so- yet at the same time peaceful and serene. There’s definitely something about having a space so spiritual and sacred entirely to oneself.
The Sehzade has been brought up in our history class quite often, but before today I had no chance to check it out -nor did I know where it was exactly. It just so happened though, as I walked south from Sebsafa Hatun and further into Fatih that it was the next mosque i ran into! It was incredibly larger than the first mosque, and definitely more visited, boasting a Sinan success.
I walked further south to find a very peculiar-looking mosque. It looked so different than the iconic mosque exterior I was used to! I walked inside to find one of the most beautiful interiors I have seen- the architecture is actually quite simple on the inside, allowing the painted walls and ceilings to take over, creating a room that serves as a vibrant gallery of colors and patterns. It was absolutely breathtaking, and I have decided this is my new favorite mosque of all time. So cool.
Although the exterior is quite decorated, the interior remains very simple- it felt more like a room than a mosque because of shape, its quite simply a rectangle with two domes on top.
This one was a bit hidden by its surroundings and greenery, but its minaret gave it away and drew me in to check it out. It had such s homey and lived-in character, positioned among trees that frame the tiny mosque and create a welcoming canopy- it was very opposite of the large and intimidating mosques of Sinan we are used to stepping into. Quite an intense contrast.
Also on the small scale, but colorfully decorated, the Selcuk Sultan Mosque was simply a square with a dome that spanned the entire ceiling. Women enter through a separate side entrance and are given access to a mysterious steep and narrow staircase that leads on to a second level. I was particularly a fan of this one’s bright blue carpet!
Another simple mosque, with a beautifully tiled Mihrab. Just as the Haci Bayram it didn’t even have one dome and looked very much just like a simple room- with a mihrab thrown in. And a nice carpet!
Since all of the mosques I was finding were in Fatih, I was bound to run into the grand Fatih Mosque at some point. It was much larger than I was picturing it, towering over a wide and populated plaza. The interior has a great sense of community- people were sitting in groups and chatting, children were running around, and others were praying. It was so lively and glowing in lights- probably the runner up of today’s mosques following the Valide Sultan.
This is when the rain decided to pour and a cappuccino was necessary. (My explanation for all the time lost before I finished with mosque 9 and 10. Who knew mosque hopping would be this tiring?)
Located back towards Eminonu and just off the shore of the golden horn, The Ahi Ahmet Celebi looks oddly low to the ground to me from the outside. The inside stays true to that too! It looked like a glorified cave structure.
I ended the day with a visit to the New Mosque- one I had planned to visit for a while but never got about doing it. I stood and gaped at the interior for quite a while- It was so intricately decorated its impossible to take it all in at once! It was a fabulous conclusion to the day.
As this collection of images showcases- Istanbul is full of a wide range of different mosques- some intended to boast elegance and grandeur, others only meant to be utilized for their most basic purpose of prayer. Some are the size of a bedroom, others not even quantifiable in scale. Some are tiled in brilliant blues and red, others only have white walls and a few calligraphy images.It was so great to see all these ranges all in one day, and to see the different audiences they attract.
It was a long day of walking and a fantastic break- now back to homework!
Until next time!