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A Mosque Invites Me to Stay

I had just left the Spice Bazaar behind me when I noticed the entrance to Yeni Camii (New Mosque). It was late afternoon, and I was already exhausted from a very long day of sightseeing. I wanted nothing more than to call it a day but I was already here so I thought I would just quickly dart in and out. One foot inside and the plan changed.

Compared to the Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque, the domed interior of Yeni Camii is a much more intimate space but equally stunning in design. As in the Blue Mosque, calligraphic discs hang from just below the edges of the ornately painted domes and soaring sections of walls are covered with beautiful Iznik tiles. Gold paint adds a rich, punctuating touch. Thick wool carpeting lines every inch of the floor. As expansive as the interior is, it also feels very luxurious and inviting. As tired as I was, I didn’t want to leave anytime soon.

Walking around, I discovered that Yeni Camii has a visitors section and you are welcome to sit there. I found my spot on the carpet and discretely watched a slice of local life unfold before me—men and women praying, people having conversations in hushed tones, and a few tourists milling about. Enveloped by the quiet of this serene space, I felt rejuvenated in no time.

For whatever reason, Yeni Camii is not as popular with tourists as the Blue Mosque is, but it’s definitely worth a visit, even if you’re not a weary tourist like I was.

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