Five times a day throughout the streets of Istanbul you can hear the trilling call to prayer, also known as ezan. During this time the voice of the bellowing muezzin, the man who calls the Muslims to prayer from a minaret, can be heard over the loudspeakers at different mosques in the city.
The first time I heard the chaos of tonal reverberations in Istanbul was while standing at the top of Galata Tower. The contrasting levels of noise seemed to be coming from every angle near and far, creating a chaotic concert.
The loudest voice was from the direction of the Blue Mosque and I wanted to follow the noise directly to where it was being created.
Because the ezan only lasts about ten minutes we would have never made it from Galata Tower to the Blue Mosque in time for this round, but it was now on my Istanbul bucket list for this visit.
The exact times of the call to prayer changes daily due to things like the rotation of the earth, revolution around the sun, latitudes, sunrise and sunsets. It’s complicated.
Luckily, when we had finally arrived at the Blue Mosque there was a digital box displaying the ezan hours for the day. It would begin in a half hour which gave us enough time to swiftly tour the intricate architecture of its interior.
Ten minutes before the action was about to start, we took a seat on the benches in between the Blue Mosque and the church of Hagia Sophia, a former Byzantine church and Ottoman mosque turned museum.
The ezan began and it was like the call to prayer in surround sound, truly powerful. The Blue Mosque prayer began loud and Hagia Sophia followed a tiny bit softer.
I was mesmerized.
Though this symphony of sorts was impressive from anywhere in town, the most extraordinary happened while listening to the battle of the call to prayer between Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque while sitting on the benches in the middle of the two.
If you are not Muslim you will not be able to visit the inside of the mosque during prayer time, so arrive a little early to do this. The hours change daily, but you can either check the Istanbul Call to Prayer Times
website for the times or find them posted in the courtyard of the Blue Mosque.
For Hagia Sophia, the winter visiting hours are from 09.00 to 17.00, with the final entry being at 16.00. During the summer, the hours are between 09.00 and 19.00, with the final entry being at 18.00. Hagia Sophia is closed on Mondays.
Address: Sultan Ahmet Mh., Torun Sk No:19, 34400, Istanbul, Turkey
: Blue Mosque
and Hagia Sophia Museum