One of Turkey’s most famous mosques is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul. It is popularly known as the Blue Mosque because of the blue tiles which adorn its interior. It incorporates a hospice, a madrasah (which means “a place where learning is done”) and also the tomb of its founder. It was constructed between 1609 and 1616 during the reign of Sultan Ahmed I.
The design of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque incorporates some elements of traditional Islamic architecture with some of the Byzantine features of the nearby Hagia Sophia Orthodox Basilicia. The mosque is considered to be the last great mosque of the classical period and is particularly impressive in size and design. It has one main dome, eight other domes and six minarets. It has become a very popular tourist attraction although it remains principally a place of worship.
The Bursa Grand Mosque in the city of Bursa was built between 1396 and 1400 on the orders of the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I. This mosque is a landmark of early Ottoman design and features twenty domes and two minarets. It also includes a sadirvan (a fountain where worshippers can perform ritual ablutions before prayer), which is one of the principal features of Ottoman architecture.
The Kocatepe Mosque is the largest mosque in the Turkish capital Ankara, and can be seen from almost anywhere in the central part of the city. It was built between 1967 and 1987 and is regarded by many as a landmark example of modern Islamic architecture.
The city of Edirne is home to the Selimiye Mosque. This is an Ottoman mosque which was commissioned by Sultan Selim II and was constructed between 1569 and 1575. Its architect, Mimar Sinan, considered the mosque to be his masterpiece.
When visiting any mosque (not just in Turkey but anywhere in the world), certain protocols need to be observed. You should avoid visiting a mosque on Friday from late morning to early afternoon (which is when weekly group prayers and sermons are held), or at prayer-time (which for half an hour after the ezan (the call to prayer) is chanted from the minarets). All visitors to mosques should wear modest clothing (no shorts or sleeveless tops), and women are required to cover their heads before entering the mosque. Some popular mosques (such as the Blue Mosque) provide robes to wear during the visit if appropriate. All visitors (including worshippers) must remove their shoes before stepping on to the prayer carpets. This is a purely practical measure; it is intended to keep the carpets as clean as possible.
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