People wishing to enter this or most other mosques must take off their shoes and, if they are women, wear a hat and scarf. It was winter in Istanbul when we were there, and since no place was provided to put your shoes, you simply put them down any place you could find inside the entrance and looked around for them among everyone else’s shoes when you left. At first I found this irritating, much like the endless call to prayer ringing out every half hour or so. But on reflection I began to think of both practices as an Islamic insistence on the presence of Allah everywhere, a presence requiring a sort of thoughtless reverence. After I did that, both the required forgetfulness of shoes inside the mosque and the call to prayer outside blended into the atmosphere of the city and made me feel like I had been, somewhat forcefully to be sure, inducted into the Islamic faith. I found myself, in other words, not so much annoyed as complimented. Certainly neither Mary or I look irritated in the following photo, taken inside the Blue Mosque by our guide.
This mosque, one of the two most famous in Istanbul, is called the Blue Mosque after its blue interior tiles, as in the photo below.