When looking at pictures from Istanbul you will always find a mosque in it somewhere. They are literally scattered all over the city and their minarets are looming large above the city. In the Old City you will stumble upon several Muslim worship places and five times a day you will hear their call for prayer. This sound always makes me feel like I’m travelling!
This day I went out to explore the two most famous tourist attractions in Istanbul: the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Located on only a couple hundred meter from each other you will find loads of tourist in this area, but nonetheless also a lot of locals, because the Blue Mosque is during prayer time closed for tourist so Muslims are able to pray in silence. My first stop was the Hagia Sophia and although Im not the tourist that visits a lot of museums I was told I could not skip this one. From the outside I was not impressed at all, it actually does not look appealing at all. But this building is all about history! They started constructing this mosque or cathedral, whatever you want to call it, in 500 and served for almost 1000 years as a church, then when the Muslims took it over it was rebuilt and used as a mosque then back in 1935 they changed it into a museum. First of all the inside of this building is insanely overwhelming, but that is not weird as it was the biggest cathedral in the world for a long time and it still houses the biggest cupola in the world. Despite of the fact that they are renovating the interior and there are loads of scaffolds inside you will still be shocked. For me the most impressive sight was to see how loads of very religious and totally covered Muslim women were taking pictures of old paintings of Jesus.
The Blue Mosque was my second stop and was definitely impressing but I think I was still dazzled by the impressions from the Hagia Sophia. That’s why I would suggest people to go to the Blue Mosque first before buying your $12 entrance ticket for the Hagia Sophia. The Blue Mosque is by the way completely free to visit. Looking for a great 1 week itinerary for Istanbul, click here.
To end your day head to one of the rooftop terraces in the neighborhood from where you can watch the sunset over both of the buildings. I would recommend the Seven Hills rooftop restaurant where you can drink a Turkish tea for $2 with a 360-degree view over Old Town and the Bosporus.