If you are in Istanbul and want to visit a Mosque, for free, go to the famous Blue Mosque, also known as Sultan Ahmed Mosque (often written as Sultanahmet on signs). Due to several prayer times during the day, there are three big-time blocks in which you can visit the Mosque, as a tourist. I entered the Mosque from the southern part and already a few minutes after the official opening time there were some (~50) people standing in line. As the dress code to enter the Mosque is strict – no uncovered shoulders, no visible legs on both women and men – they provide you with dresses, head coverings and skirts. Also, men with short shorts need to wear such skirts, just as women with dresses/skirts that aren’t long enough. During my visit, I was wearing long jeans and a T-Shirt and I covered both my head/hair and shoulders with an own scarf and it was no problem for me to enter the Blue Mosque in Istanbul with my own clothes. After passing the issue for the skirts you go up some stairs and there you have to take your shoes off. Luckily (!!) you can keep your socks on, so just put your shoes inside the provided plastic bags and do not use two bags to cover up the shoes you’re still wearing.
Now you’re ready to enter the Mosque, and my first thought was just: wow. The visitor area was separated from the prayers area and both weren’t that crowded. You could clearly smell foot odour, but just ignore it, look up and admire the interior of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque and the huge chandeliers. There are more than 260 windows on the roof that is topped by a Dome with a diameter of 23,5 m. The Mosque was completed in 1616 after a 7 year building time and it was the first imperial mosque for more than forty years at that time. What’s really breathtaking and special about the mosque is the uncountable amount of handmade Iznik ceramic tiles that were used to cover the upper interior of the Mosque. Most of them are blue, that’s where the name Blue Mosque comes from. The whole Mosque is widely known as a masterpiece of the Ottoman architecture.
When visiting the Blue Mosque / Sultan Ahmed Mosque, make sure to keep silent as it’s still a spiritual place and stay respectful! If you are walking in with bare feet, there are possibilities outside to wash them with water and soap.