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Blue Mosque and the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey.

This is certainly not Constantinople… (Istanbul, Turkey)

Blue Mosque and the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey.

After arriving at my Istanbul hostel around midnight, a time when the rooftop bar was closed and the two other occupied beds in my room had sound sleepers, I had really nothing better to do than go to bed myself. I wasn’t really tired though, and was an hour behind in time zones so I just laid there for a long time listening to the entire soundtrack to RENT on my iPod. It was my first night in a hostel in five weeks, so I had become unaccustomed to snorers and top bunks. So I didn’t sleep well.

And then I was woken up, early, by a sound drifting through the open window that at the time I could only describe as aliens on a loudspeaker preparing to conquer Turkey. Eventually the chanting stopped and I fell back asleep. In my more awake state later in the day I realized I had heard my first call to prayer.

It’s a haunting sound that after a few days you get used to hearing but still are not used to.

I spent my first day like I spend my first day anywhere, just walking around, stumbling. I walked around the waterfront, getting accosted at every turn by people trying to sell me boat tours. I quickly had had enough and, despite the pure beauty, I needed to retreat back to my hostel.


Fishermen on the Bosphorus

Fishermen on the Bosphorus

Later I ventured out again and ended up at the Blue Mosque. Which was beautiful and breathtaking. It was interesting to see the contrasting sides of the hall. One half full of bustling tourists, the other roped off for those in prayer.

Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

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2 Comments
  • Francesca
    October 11, 2011 at 10:54 am

    I remember hearing my first call to prayer; I was in Tanzania and it weirded me out, too. But then I grew to love it and looked forward to it every morning. I’m excited about hearing it again when I get to Istanbul next month! I am not, however, looking forward to all the touts. I can deal with it but I think it’ll drive my husband insane….

  • Ali
    October 22, 2011 at 4:55 am

    I sort of got used to hearing the call to prayer in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, but you’re right, it sounds creepy on that loud speaker, definitely a feeling of being invaded by aliens. That early morning one is torture.

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