The Blue Mosque reeks, especially during the summer, but that’s because everyone has to take their shoes off.
The Blue Mosque sits directly across from the Hagia Sophia on the Hippodrome, also known as Sultanahmet Square. It’s hard to say which is more impressive. They both rival in beauty. With six towering minarets, The Blue Mosque dominates the Istanbul skyline.
Unlike The Hagia Sophia, The Blue Mosque is an active mosque and is not open to visitors at all times. Doors open at 9am and close five times throughout the day for prayers. It is also closed midday on Fridays, the mandatory prayer of the week. Most mosques close an hour before sun down.
The main entrance into The Blue Mosque is reserved only worshipers. All other visitors are required to use the north entrance. Before you can get a glimpse of the blue tiles that gives The Blue Mosque its name, there are a few rules to follow:
- cover their heads with a scarf
- wear clothes that cover their shoulders
- wear a long skirt or dress to cover their legs
- wear long pants to cover their legs. (Shorts are not acceptable.)
Men and women must
- take off their shoes
Plastic bags are provided to hold your shoes and head scarves are given to those who have none. Since everyone has their shoes off, I got a nice big whiff of feet. At least it wasn’t as bad as squat toilets in China.
It’s not the locals who stink up the place. It’s actually the tourists. Worshipers wash their hands, face, neck and feet in the ablution before entering the mosque for prayers. The rest of us stroll in after a long sweaty day of wandering through the city. Not many bother to wash ourselves so of course the mosque is going to smell like feet.