The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Istanbul

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The Blue Mosque is a symbol for me.  It is the real start of the travel, the first major point in Asia on the road to India.  It is located near the famous Pudding Shop, a.k.a. as the “Lale Restaurant”.  This was an important meeting place for hippies and other travelers on overland route between Europe and India, Nepal, and elsewhere in Asia – the ‘hippie trail’ as it was called.  I was sixteen the first time I went there, but I stayed in Istanbul, and only went “all the way” to India a couple of years later.  Actually, it is in this same Pudding Shop that I then found my ride to Teheran.

The Blue Mosque, called like this for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior, is a huge six minarets mosque built at the beginning of the 17th century by the Sultan Ahmed I.   He wished to build an Islamic place of worship that would be even better than the Hagia Sophia that is next to it.  Today, the cascading domes and six slender minarets of the Sultanahmet Mosque dominate the skyline of Istanbul.

I’ve read that  Sultan Ahmed I was only 19 years old when he decided to have this mosque built.  It was built near the Hagia Sophia, over the site of the ancient hippodrome and Byzantine imperial palace.  And he died just a year after the completion of his masterpiece, at the age of 27. He is buried outside the mosque with his wife and three sons.



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