Rustem Pasa Mosque
Mosques at sunset
Mosques are everywhere in Turkey (at least the parts we visited). They are not all old either. We saw several still under construction which surprised me. Coming from the prairie lands of Canada, where religion is more or less fading out of the social fabric, I was quite shocked to see how important it still is to people here in Turkey.
Mosques remind me a lot of the orthodox churches we were seeing in Bulgaria, without the inside frescoes but with the addition of carpet. I suspect that's partly to do with the fact that many of the original mosques were made by converting old Christian churches. They tend to be a large open spaces covered by a dome roof. Outside there is a courtyard, complete with hand/face/foot washing stations and of course, a minaret or two.
All the mosques were free to enter, but you need to be dressed appropriately. That means wearing pants and shirts with sleeves. Women also need to cover their heads (scarfs supplied at the mosques popular with tourists). Last but not least, it is essential that any footwear is removed before entering.
Another interesting feature of the mosques are the loudspeakers mounted on top of the minarets. Five times a day, beginning at around 5:00 AM and finishing up around 6:00pm [These times are approximate, and vary with the time of sunrise (or at least that's my understanding)], the call to prayer is sung. It's performed live at each mosque, and is belted out at volumes so high, that we could usually hear two to three different mosques at one time. I actually really grew to like the sound of the call to prayer. There's something majestic about the heartfelt melodies. I'm not sure what it was, but they somehow moved me every time I heard them, and that was nice.
However, if you are planning to visit a mosque, prayer times are best avoided. Many of the mosques popular among tourists close their doors to visitors during prayer time, and those that don't do not allow photographs while prayer is in session.