From Arasta Bazaar we walked to Sultanahmet (Blue) mosque, the iconic and historic mosque in Istanbul. The mosque is popularly known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior. But you would be disappointed if you’re looking for lots of blue inside because they are mostly in the inaccessible upper galleries.
For the fact that it is a working mosque, non-Muslims should plan your visit ahead. It’s closed to non-worshipers 45 minutes before the call to prayer (azan) and 30 minutes afterwards, and all morning on Fridays. For further information to assist in your planning, visit this sitewww.bluemosque.co
Walking map from Arasta Bazaar to Sultanahmet (Blue) mosque.
Sultanahmet (Blue) mosque from breakfast terrace of Star Holiday Hotel.
View of Blue mosque from Sultanahmet Park.
Exterior view of Blue mosque from outside its compound.
Benches for you to rest and admire the Blue mosque at the back, or to your front the Sultanahmet Park and Hagia Sophia.
Exterior view of Blue mosque within its compound.
Tulips within the mosque compound.
Solid brass pipes outside the mosque for worshipers to do ablution before prayers. During winter months, the pipe water is cold.
Interior courtyard before entering the mosque and prayer hall.
Night view of the Blue mosque from Sultanahmet Park.
Night view from its exterior.
Night view from Sultan Ahmet square before the Hippodrome.
This part of the post concentrate on pictures of the interior of the mosque. Although the building of the Blue mosque is big, I must say that the actual prayer hall isn’t that large. There are other mosque we’ve visited, the prayer hall is much larger meaning the number of worshipers it can accommodate is more.
The prayer hall with the low-level lighting. The wooden barrier in the background is the limit non-Muslims and females can enter. Female prayer area is at the back of the barrier.
The beautifully decorated walls and ceiling.
Worshipers waiting for the call of prayer. Stained glass are abundant too.
The ‘mimbar’ or rostrum where sermons are delivered.
Most of your favorite attractions in Istanbul would most likely be located within the Sultanahmet vicinity and are within walking distances. Choosing a hotel close to this area makes sense as you’ll save on transport cost. You’ll find lots of hotels to suit your budget in Sultanahmet and the tram that runs through it makes traveling around Istanbul convenient.
The major attractions in Sultanahmet are : 1. The Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque) 2. The Hippodrome 3. Colourful Building 4. Arasta Bazaar 5. Topkapi Palace 6. Hagia Sophia 7. Basilica Cistern 8. Gulhane Park
The attractions are listed in a sequence that will avoid uphill walk. Get off the at the Sultanahmet tram stop for your first attraction, The Blue Mosque a short walk away. The last attraction, Gulhane Park will be a downhill walk from Basilica Cistern. If you intend to do your visit in reverse order, the walk from Gulhane Park to Basilica Cistern will be a taxing uphill walk, let alone if you have to push a wheelchair.
(The famous Grand Bazaar is a brisk seven minutes slight uphill walk from Sultanahmet tram stop or you can take the tram and get off one stop ahead at Cemberlitas).
Attractions in Sultanahmet area. Click to enlarge.
1. Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque) Alighting from your tram at Sultanahmet tram stop, walk across Sultan Ahmet Square to The Blue Mosque, your first attraction. Do bear in mind that you will be visiting a mosque and you should be properly attired. Being a working mosque, non-Muslims will not be allowed to enter before or after the start of prayers. Visit this site for visiting hours for non-Muslims.
The Blue Mosque as seen from across Sultanahmet Park.
Entrance into the Mosque from the inner courtyard.
2. The Hippodrome Exiting The Blue Mosque, head left for The Hippodrome. These are two columns of tall ‘pillars’ one being the ‘Obelisk of Theodosius’ and the other ‘Walled Obelisk’. In-between, you find the ‘Serpent Column’.
The first of the two pillars you’ll reach coming from the Blue Mosque – Obelisk of Theodosius
3. Colourful Building Not far from the Hippodrome walking towards Arasta Bazaar, you’ll see these colourful building. I’m not sure what this is but you’ll see a restaurant besides it, with the dining area extending well behind this multi coloured facade. Nice to have selfies here.
A restaurant is to the right. It’s dining area extending well behind the multi coloured facade.
From another angle.
4. Arasta Bazaar Walking straight on from the colourful building, will take you to Arasta Bazaar. As the name implies, it’s a bazaar – a rather less visited, less crowded bazaar. Prices are a little on the high side here and varieties aren’t that varied. Wouldn’t miss much if you skipped this.
One of the entrances to Arasta Bazaar.
A rather ‘high-end’ bazaar feeling here.
5. Topkapi Palace Exiting Arasta Bazaar from the other end, head for Topkapi Palace 1st courtyard entrance, about 450m away. This is one of Istanbul’s main attraction with lots and lots of visitors during peak season. You’ll be well advised to get online tickets if you intend to go in.
It’s another 400m to this 2nd courtyard entrance into the palace grounds.
Palace building inside the complex.
6. Hagia Sophia Another main attraction of Istanbul is Hagia Sophia. As with Topkapi Palace, the ticket crowd can be maddening at Hagia Sophia. Obtaining online tickets is a clever option.
Hagia Sophia from the outside.
View of the ground floor from the upper terrace.
7. Basilica Cistern Across the road from Hagia Sophia is Basilica Cistern, an underground chamber capable of holding 80,000 cubic meters of water. Although this is a lesser attraction, crowd do build up at times. Unfortunately, you would not be able to get online tickets for Basilica Cistern
Pillars inside Basilica Cistern.
One of the two Medusa heads inside Basilica Cistern.
8. Gulhane Park If you are visiting Istanbul in April through May, do pay a visit to Gulhane Park to see the beautiful tulips. The park isn’t too big, thus you get to see varieties of tulips but not get overwhelmed. A lot of benches in the park for you to rest. No entrance fees to enter.
The multi coloured tulips in Gulhane Park.
Black tulips in Gulhane Park.
Night pictures of Sultanahmet attractions. Due to the close proximity of our hotel, Star Holiday Hotel, we can choose what time to photograph these attractions.
Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque).
The ‘Serpent Column’ of The Hippodrome in-between Obelisk of Theodosius and Walled Obelisk.