Sunday, November 25, 2012

one mosque, two mosque, red mosque, blue mosque

Atop the Galata Tower during an afternoon call to prayer, the voice of the muezzins singing from each mosques across the vast city of Istanbul filled my ears. I scanned one minaret after another other for miles around, enraptured by the sound vibrating in the air. I wanted to capture the moment forever.

Reaching each individual mosque is just as enticing to the senses. Light breezes carry the smell of roasted chestnuts. Crimson red pomegranates, piled high, wait to be cracked open and juiced.  Offers of apple tea are sung out by every carpet vendor in the city.  But only the mosques garner the most attention.

Sultanahmet or the Blue Mosque, as it is most widely known, was built in the early 1600's. It is still a place of worship today and closes to tourists during each call to prayer. Boasting six minarets, Saltanhamet caused quite a stir until another minaret was added to the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

Directly across from the Blue Mosque is the Hagia Sofia. Built in 360 AD, the Hagia Sofia was an Orthodox cathedral. It remained such (except for a 60 year period when used as a Roman Catholic cathedral) until 1453 when it was converted into a mosque. Now a museum, since 1935, remnants of both Christian and Islamic design are seen in one spot by tourists of every cultural background.

The New (but very old) Mosque was completed in the mid 1600's, after over 60 years of construction due to death of a sultan, political discord, financial downfall, decay and a fire to the structure. But its location, just in front of the ferry port and Galata bridge make it another one of the most widely viewed mosques in all Istanbul.

Upon a large hill, apart from all the others, stands the Fatih Mosque, or Sultan Mehemed. Built in the latter part of the 1400's, the mosque suffered extensive damage from four separate earthquakes throughout the following three centuries. After each earthquake, the building was repaired until the last earthquake left it in disrepair and was reconstructed with an entirely different architectural plan.


Patti said...

The mosques are beautiful Claire, almost as beautiful as your blue eyes. :D

claireb said...

Patti, you kill me!