Istanbul’s Blue Mosque and a Note on Travel Planning

It was a little disconcerting to hear about today’s apparent suicide bombing near the Blue Mosque in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul just a few hours before discussing plans for a brief upcoming visit to the Turkish metropolis.

Eleven people were killed in the attack which Turkish government officials say was carried out by a suspected member of Islamic State (IS). The BBC is reporting that at least eight of them were German tourists. At least another 15 people were wounded, many of them German nationals as well.

The old city’s Sultanahmet area is an important tourist hub, home to the Sultan Ahmed, or Sultan Ahmet Mosque, more commonly known as The Blue Mosque. It’s a stunning building, and with a capacity of 10,000 a massive one as well, with this year set to celebrate the 400th anniversary of its completion. These images, above and below, were taken during my last trip in late winter 2012, when tourism, a vital source of income for the country, was still on the rise.

Istanbul Blue Mosque exterior

The industry will almost certainly take a further hit after the attack which at least at the moment appears to have targeted foreign visitors. Tourism accounts for about 4% of the country’s economy, and last year generated nearly $30 billion — Istanbul alone accounted for about one-third of that, according to the Wall Street Journal. More than a third of the country’s 32 million tourism arrivals last year came to Istanbul.

Turkey was already facing a $3.5 billion hit in 2016 after Russia applied trade sanctions following Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet in November. Russians provided the second highest number of visitors to the country in 2014 with 4.47 million, after Germany, with 5.2 million.

That said, it’s not going to impact my travel plans. News like this never does. I’ve been looking forward to returning, hoping to explore other parts of the massive city that famously straddles both Europe and Asia. And to make a return visit to the Blue Mosque. I hope it’s reopened by then.


And for the record, today’s Pic du Jour, the blog’s 738th straight, was snapped on 12 March 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey.


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  1. paula graham says

    Stunning, stunning place , hope nobody will destroy such beauty. Both shots, so well framed.

  2. Kirsten says

    I really would like to thank you for all your reporting and insight concerning different areas around the world. I always look forward to hearing you report on about things that are happening but that the mainstream media does not cover. Keep up the great work, safely!

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks so much Kirsten, much appreciated. Be well and thanks for stopping by and dropping a note. Please don’t be a stranger.

  3. Alli Farkas says

    Don’t have any enlightening thoughts on this. Just sort of getting tired of the terrorist thing. Don’t think it will come to any sort of resolution in my lifetime. Which is really sad.

    1. Bob R says

      I know what you mean. “Another day in the life…”.

  4. jacquelineobyikocha says

    Fantastic shots Bob.

  5. marlene frankel says

    Thanks for capturing such beauty.

  6. The C-Sweet says

    Love the photo of the inside of the Blue Mosque. I have a friend/former student living in Turkey….makes me think of Yasemin

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