Monday, April 9, 2012
Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Mosque, Istanbul
It is Easter weekend and although I have been here before at Easter this weekend there are a lot more tourists than I have ever seen before. It may seem strange that a Muslim country there would be a lot of tourist at Easter but throughout the Middle East you often see both Muslim and Christian on pilgrimages. I have been in the large mosque in the old city of Damascus when there were both Muslim pilgrims from Iran and Christian pilgrims from the west conducting services.
Actually, the number of tourists may be due to the amount of time some Europeans get off for the holiday. On the plane coming in I heard a tourist from Greece complain that they only had two and a half days off, one day less than in the past. The line to get into the Blue Mosque wrapped all the way around the courtyard yesterday so I walked out to a couple other mosque to due in some interior photos.
This mosque is the Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Mosque which was built in 1571 and is several blocks down a steep hill behind the Blue Mosque. The medrese which still functions as a college is in the surrounding courtyard buildings. The blue tiles are the original Iznik tiles and set into the wall over the entrance there is a small piece of green stone which is from the Kaaba, the holy stone at the center of Mecca. The mosque was locked where I arrived but the caretaker soon arrived and opened it and gave me a tour even allowing me up to the upper level. Even with a 16mm lens it took two photos to get from the dome to the floor.