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The best art is free: A look inside a few mosques I recently visited

posted by Naysawn Naderi | filed under The Best Art is Free |

I have been on the road for the past 2 months, traveling through Lebanon, Israel and Turkey, while working on bringing ArtSumo online. It's been quite an amazing experience getting to know the Muslim world a little better. While I half expected a welcome of "Death to America," I've found just the opposite - incredibly hospitable and welcoming people, eager to show you their culture. Further, I have found the places I was most nervous about visiting to be the most welcoming. Although I almost called off my visit to Lebanon after seeing footage of a "day of rage," I found the streets of Beirut to be super safe and the Lebanese to be incredibly hospitable. Across the board, I found that the Lebanese love to ask you where you're from, then give big smiles and repeat "welcome, welcome."

In addition to the hospitable people, one perk of visiting the Muslim world has been getting to explore the numerous mosques on display everywhere. While some might call Istanbul "the land of one thousand staircases," its more common title, "the land of one thousand minarets," - a credit to the numerous mosques tucked away throughout the city - is probably more fitting.

Below are some of the images of the architecture and interior of several of the mosques I have been visiting. I hope the pictures do the structures justice.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque / Blue Mosque (Istanbul, Turkey)

My travel buddy, Lindsey, and I, like all good tourists in Istanbul, were sure to pay a visit to the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. While we both were really impressed by the intricate architecture and painting of the dome, we found the amount of tourists in the mosque to dampen the experience.

Blue Mosque at Night Blue mosque Blue Mosque

The number of tourists in the Blue Mosque is slightly overwhelming.

Selimiye Mosque (Edirne, Turkey)

Although Lindsey and I made the weekend trip over to Edirne, Turky to see the home of Baha'u'llah in former Adrianople, we were thouroughly impressed with the Selimiye Mosque while visiting. We were lucky to tour this mosque with Orhan, one of the nicest couchsurfing hosts I've ever met. We both agree that it is our favorite one we have visited so far in Turkey.

The Selimiye Mosque in Edirne The Selimiye Mosque in Edirne IMG_5971 IMG_5984 IMG_5959

Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque (Beirut, Lebanon)

My buddy, Devin, and I visited the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque while touring Beirut. The massive structure really sticks out as it is lit up at night and is located in the downtown core. It was built between 2002 and 2007 by the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was buried beside it. It was inaugurated by his son Saad Hariri on October 17, 2008. While from the outside, I didn't find it as impressive as the mosques above, I found the dome roof and interior decor particularly awesome.

Martyr's Square

The carpeting guides a worshipper how to seat themselves to face Mecca.

Yours truly outside the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque.

About us

Hello. I'm Naysawn, founder of Art Sumo. Art Sumo makes it easier to learn about other cultures and get art in far to reach places. These are some of our thoughts on the art world.