The Grand Ottoman Mosques of Istanbul - Where Europe Meets The Middle East
Istanbul, Turkey may be the best place to experience the Muslim culture in a western-like setting. You will not have been in the city for very long before you experience the Islamic 'Call to Prayer'. The Call to Prayer starts over loud speakers located in the minarets at each mosque with just a few calling at first. Within seconds, they are all calling. It creates a chilling echo emanating from every corner of the city. It is truly a 'must' experience. It happens 5 times each day and during our visit we found ourselves looking forward to it each time.
There are many mosques in Istanbul. The most impressive of which were built during the Ottoman Empire. The architecture and scale of the buildings are impressive by any measure. Non-worshipers are welcome to visit the mosques outside of prayer times which is an opportunity not offered in every Muslim country. There are some very simple rules when visiting: all shoes must be removed and you must be generally covered, including your head if you are a woman. Once inside, you are asked to be respectfully quiet and may take photos of whatever you like excluding anybody praying. Though similar, all of the photos below are of different mosques. Each has a unique character inside and out.
The history of the city is deep. Mosques aside, there is so much to see that maybe even four posts will not suffice. The people are as friendly as you will find any other big city. The food is delicious, the beer is cold and the coffee is Turkish.