[10 MARCH 2016, THURSDAY]
My fourth and final sightseeing stop for the day:
While the Blue Mosque is a immensely popular tourist attraction, it is still first and foremost a mosque. And mosques in Istanbul (actually, the whole of Turkey… nay, even the whole world) do not charge entrance fees. They are all free of charge to enter.
While it is free to enter, it is not like you can just walk in and out at your pleasure. There are separate entrances, one for praying Muslims and one for non-Muslim tourists.
Before you foam at the mouth and shout unfair and discriminating, that’s not it. Muslims know very well how to dress, what to do and what not to do in the mosque. After all, they grow up doing this. But non-Muslims are ignorant to these stuff, so our entrance is full of checkpoints with people screening our suitability and rectifying as needed before allowing us entrance. Fair enough.
Some key points:
- Mosque is closed for visitors during azan (prayers) time. Five times a day. Time your visit.
- No short pants/mini skirts.
- No sleeveless clothes.
- Ladies need to cover their head with shawl/scarf. If you don’t have one, they do provide at the entrance.
- Do not wear shoes into the mosque. Take of your shoes and store it in a plastic bag (given) and carry the plastic bag with you. This is the most important restriction, failure to do so will result in immediate ejection from the mosque.
In hindsight, I think if we compare the insides on a tourist point of view, the Blue Mosque is probably nothing much to be wowed at. I think the Putrajaya Mosque is somewhat… nicer… (I’ve sneaked in once thanks to a Muslim friend of mine). But the Blue Mosque was built in the early 1600s so it definitely wins in terms of historicity, hands down.
Oh, right. You know why this mosque is known as the Blue Mosque? It is because of the blue tiles used to decorate the walls on the inside of the mosque. This is supposed to be unique and a wow factor. Not that I know much about mosques, so if people say it is a wow, then it must be. So… Wow!
I have to admit it was an interesting experience and I was glad I came inside to have a peek. After all, since it is free of charge, why not?
It said the center is inside the mosque, but it was more like an information counter. The actual Islamic Information Center is outside the mosque building.
I was not interested though. So… time to leave…
It is a real donation kiosk, not a “donation” donation kiosk, if you know what I mean (Malaysians). It is funny, when people charge entrance fee, I feel pissed off because most of the time, I thought they overcharged. But when I get to enter some place free of charge, then I would feel better about contributing some moolah towards the upkeeping of this holy place.
And this was the last of my sightseeing. After covering the 4 historical sites, I had a couple hours before evening, so I went back to Taksim to buy me’self a couple more pairs of jeans from Mavi. And then I kind of called it a day, went back to the hotel to relax, packed up, and had a big dinner.
And I think this is the last blog entry of my Europe 2016 travelogue! I mean, yeah, there’s a Day 13, but Day 13 was all about me getting to the airport and boarding the flight back home. There’s nothing new there… and I’m sure you’re all not looking forward to more airport talks. Not to mention that I do not have any photos to show…
So, I guess, that’s it! I’m done with writing about Europe for now. And I’m panicking because I’m so used to writing about Europe that I have no idea what to write next. I don’t even know what I will write for tomorrow.
Maybe I’ll write another post about what I feel of this trip… We’ll see…