Inside The Blue Mosque

Travelling never stops teaching. About the places and people around you, and about yourself. It makes you appreciate the country you grew up in, the love and protection of your family. It makes you realise that not all people have good intentions but much more often than this, kindness is universal.

I witness people blindly step over the homeless to take a photo of a monument. I see people remain in packs of their own country, shuffling bored between organised tours. I see people my age “experience” a city only from the same dimly lit clubs that could be found anywhere in the world, that they wouldn’t be able to locate on a map once sobered the next day and leaving for the next. I have grown a lot within myself from my travels, and can admit that I have also played these parts before. These days I am reminding myself to put my phone away, ask more questions, reach out to locals and help as often as possible. To expect safety and unforgettable experiences while travelling we need to arrive with understanding and compassion.

Make friends with the locals. Ask them about their trades and their families, and what they like to do in their part of the world- not what they think tourists would like to do. Eat the traditional delicacies and street food. Learn the local culture. Take the bus. Make sure the first phrase you learn in a foreign language is “Thank you”. Be spontaneous, but smart. Appreciate their religion despite your differences.

I’ve been struggling with a lot of anxiety lately. I had anxiety and PTSD many years ago and either learnt to address or suppress it, but it has caught up with me again and hitting harder than ever. If any of my readers have suffered anxiety they would know how inexplainable it is. That one moment you can be completely fine and on top of the world, the next clutching your chest without breath or reason.

Stepping in to the Blue Mosque was like taking that one deep breath after involuntarily holding for too long. Istanbul’s city streets can become chaotic with crowds in the heat of the day, and while the crowds flow in to the Blue Mosque alongside me I stopped feeling suppressed by them.

There is a dwarfing ambience from the cascading domes and miranets, with nearly every inch of interior covered in blue İznik tiles. The prayer space caters for a huge number of worshippers, but only a few were there during my visit in-between the call to prayer. The Blue Mosque (formally known as Sultan Ahmed Mosque) as well as a Turkish Bath at The Cağaloğlu Hamam are my personal favourite tourist experiences of Istanbul, both with a peaceful harmony that continues to sink in after leaving.

Photos by myself and James Thompson

  • Your travel diaries are amazing! I love seeing all these beautiful photos – of places I have been to myself as well as places I haven’t seen yet. Istanbul is still on my bucket list and, of course, the blue mosque. The photos are beautiful! xo, Christina

  • Natali

    Oh wow!! Absolutely breathtaking and such an inspiring place!

    http://lartoffashion.blogspot.com/

  • This is by far my favourite post of yours so far. I understand all too much about the anxiety and love the way that you see travel. Thank you for sharing.

  • Wow! This post is incredible beautiful!

    http://www.cherryblossomstreet.com -Swedish Model and blogger in Tokyo

  • vanessa flores

    Me encantan las fotos, son geniales.

    http://vanessaflores.blogs.elle.es

  • Ok, I’m completely in love with your travel diaries. Blue Mosque is stunning, what a magical place. I’d love to go there someday! Thank you for sharing.

    http://www.greenandturquoise.com

  • Kesly

    Beautiful photographs! Your travel diary always inspire me to travel around the world someday!

    http://shewearsshetravels.blogspot.com/

  • These are stunning photos!!
    I never really got why people who were traveling felt the need to go to all the kinds of places they could find at home. The beauty of travel is to experience a different place with different people and activities – totally on your side there.

    I do hope your anxiety will get better soon, it’s horrible to live like that. I’ve found that staying away from coffee for a few days helps a lot as well as exercising regularly.

    xx Cheyenne
    http://www.bohemianjourneys.blogspot.com

  • GapToothedGirl

    Stunning!!
    XOX, Gap.
    http://www.gaptoothedgirl.com

  • Nico

    What incredible place!

    New post on lb-lc fashion blog

  • beautiful photos and place

    XO CHAMA FASHION

    http://www.chamafashion.com

  • Kimberly Ann

    I’ve suffered from anxiety since I was 16 so I definitely know what you mean.. Especially traveling! But on my latest trip to Costa Rica I realized the importance of learning from the locals. This looks like an amazing experience!

    Kim
    http://trendkeeper.me

  • Reichel

    Breathtaking, I’d love to be there some day.

    http://www.paseandoamissreichel.com

  • Valerie

    I completely understand what you’re saying and I couldn’t agree more, I’m the same! In any case, I hope I do get to visit Turkey one day 🙂 Your posts have really made me want to go. Sending you love from England. xx

  • That’s a beautiful place!

    L.A

    http://www.itsaboutla.fr/

  • elza

    what a stunning place .. i definitely agree about making friends with the locals, it’s an amazing chance to gain new experiences x

    CLUB AVENUE | BY ELZA BEATRISE http://club-avenue.blogspot.com

  • lavieenliz
  • Fabrizia Spinelli

    I’ve been there too, amazing!

    Fabrizia – Cosa Mi Metto???

  • Natalia

    Cute photos, lovely place 🙂

    http://lifebetweenhats.blogspot.com

  • Wow this looks incredible!!

    Joelle
    http://joellepoulos.com/shop

  • Beautiful shots!

    http://www.FashionSnag.com

  • Lindsey K

    I used to live in Istanbul, so it’s wonderful to see such an insightful post! The Turks are exceptionally friendly people (I’ve been tapped on the shoulder and motioned to take out my earbuds so that someone – who didn’t speak English – could chat with me). I hope you enjoy your time there! Make sure to visit a hammam before you leave!

  • Elizabeth Hawn
  • Sam

    Wow. Absolutely gorgeous! I also love the way you’ve written about what you’ve learned from your travels. You are completely right. I have never had PTSD, but your experiences and descriptions are still inspiring! The mosque looks incredibly calming. I really hope to make it to Turkey in the next few years!

    Sam
    http://www.thatcuriouscat.blogspot.com

  • desideropacem

    Absolutely awesome .. I hope, someday I will see it with my own eyes.

    Love
    Verena Fiona
    http://londonparismailandbla.wordpress.com

  • Andres Poiche
  • Elianass

    I love your style and your blog! You’re amazing & you look amazing!

    http://nerdyfancy.wordpress.com/

  • Pia Hocevar Mucic

    Wow amazing photos!

    Fashion latte with vanilla

  • eclética and chic
  • Enjoy Istanbul. I have never been there but looking at your photos makes me want to go:-)

    XX

    Miri

    http://currentlywearing.com

  • Leesa

    oh my, this looks so amazing! And I totally get what you want to say with the anxiety. I’ve been suffering from that too… It’s pretty tough…all the best!
    xx
    http://www.thefashionplaybook.de/blog

  • this is amazing

    xxxx

    http://www.dominiquecandido.com

  • Jessica R. Cohen

    Hi Jessi! this post touched my heart. Sometimes we should appreciate more the simple things in life. Travelling shows us humility in very different ways, when we go to a place full of poor people but they offer their houses to provided a glass o limonade while they tell you about how beautiful is life like that. I am feeling a lot of anxiety in the last monts and I know exactly how you feel. I hope you can feel better soon.
    jeessicohen.com/blog

  • Amazing pictures and I feel the same way about travelling, because it makes us realize how lucky we really are. We should appreciate the fact that we have our families and friends around everytime we need them and the comfort of our countries.
    I really hope that your anxiety will improve.
    Bisous, Marye

    http://www.niniiinjune.com

  • Hi Jess! Beautiful photos as always, speaking of thanks, Thank You for always taking your readers to new places. I understand the anxiety thing, I’m not such a good flyer so that happens to me a lot!

  • Wow, those colors are amazing! Kudos to you for trying to immerse yourself in the culture of your travels 🙂

    — Michelle | MXP STYLE

  • Taylor

    What an amazing post. I am traveling around the world for a year (by myself) and agree with so much of what you so eloquently said; to assimilate and to appreciate involves adapting and understanding. Too often I see people judge, or write off, or even critique a new place or different culture because they fail to empathize or relate.

    I will be going to turkey in november (after western Europe and a trip similar to yours through eastern Europe) and can say the Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar are two of the places I am most excited for. They are so architecturally beautiful and culturally significant, and I can only hope to capture the sentiment, image, and aesthetic as well as you did!!

    Thanks for this lovely post.

    xx Taylor
    http://www.callawayrose.com

  • Lindsey

    Wow what a beautiful place! Breathtaking!
    http://www.shopopal.com

  • Thank you for sharing Jess. It is important to take the time you need to nurture yourself, even when travelling and being on the go. I can only imagine the added pressure that you would feel racing between cities and fashion week events. It is nice to see you have great support with you. I’ve learned a lot from divulging fears, stress and so on with my partner, it certainly helps to get more done, and also get over things quicker. It helps too that he is keen to help out with blog shoots etc. 🙂 The mosque looks and sounds beautiful.
    Wishing you all the best,
    xx Jenelle
    http://www.inspiringwit.com

  • Beautiful pictures! I’ve never experienced anxiety and I can only imagine how hard it is for you and the rest of the people but I hope you can overcome it. This place looks really beautiful and massive, it’s nice to know that you were able to take that deep breath 🙂 X

  • shoptheclique

    For all the latest trends follow @shop_the_clique on Instagram or visit http://shoptheclique.co

  • jamie-lee

    Really enjoyed reading this post. I’m with you on trying to make the most of your travels, talking to the locals, and just immersing yourself in the culture. It’s the only way to experience it. The thought of travelling the world just to go boozing never appealed, and I can’t see why it would, especially when travelling to foreign cities opens your eyes to so much.

    I hope that you’re able to get your anxiety under control – I suffer from it too and it is the WORST feeling, and it doesn’t help if the people that you’re with don’t understand xx

    http://mademois-elle.com

  • This is absolutely beautiful! Temples and churches are some of the most breathtaking places I’ve visited in other countries.

    I’ve seen how crippling anxiety can be even when you’re in a familiar situation, I can’t imagine how travelling must compound it. You’re brave to step outside you’re comfort zone so often, I’m sure you’re all the richer for it. Best of luck managing your anxiety. It’s all to common, but so rarely talked about.

    http://www.glimpsenglimmer.blogspot.com

  • These photos are stunning. Most amazing colors and details.

    http://www.eyelikefashion.com

  • Such a beautiful place and story at the same time! 🙂

  • Stunning pictures!

    XO

    Jeanne

    http://fashionmusingsdiary.blogspot.fr

  • Amazing photos and moving text 🙂 its one of those blogposts that makes you stop and think for a while

  • Elshakrist

    What a wonderful place! Nice writing anyway, so inspiring <3

    The Mad Shopper’s Dressing Room
    Follow me on Bloglovin

  • Giedre
  • Kevin Christian L

    Inspiring writing! I really love how you explain what to do best in another people’s country because I’m currently studying in another country, that’s why your writing really inspires me! Thank you, and as thank you in the country I’m living in we say “谢谢你” (read: xiexie ni!) 🙂

    IPIHIPPIE

  • Wow what a magical place!

    Love from Munich, L

    THESTYLECIRCUS.net

  • Breathtaking photos! I travelled to Istanbul on business many times, but always fleeting visits so sadly never got to see the inside of the Blue Mosque. These photos tell me I must go back.

    Sorry to hear you’ve been suffering with anxiety Jess. My friends swears by some of the yoga breathing exercises to help her.

    Hugs xoxo

    http://www.intotheblonde.com/

  • I absolutely agree with an am passionate about embracing the experience of travel; you really explain it well.
    And the Blue Mosque is right up there on my list of travel destinations… so humbling and imaginitive, especially when you look at the modern world and the lack of precise craft and attention to detail that architecture really lacks.
    Beautiful photos! I’m sure it was an amazing trip

    <3 dani
    http://blog.shopdisowned.com

  • Wow, it is stunning. I wish I had the money and the time to travel as much as you do. I’m sure you had a great time and you’re always meeting new people and learning about other cultures.

    Breathinghominess

    • Sophie

      Hi Angela, don’t mean to intrude but just thought I should give you a friendly heads up about Tuula, she may make a living from this blog, but she started out just like everyone else and saved up hard earned money to go travelling for a year after a near fatal crash. She is not some random rich girl, but someone with a kind soul that experienced immense suffering and came out of it and fell into this during the peak of the blogging and instagram boom. All the sponsors and free travel was just secondary after immense hard work over many years. And as she has mentioned in this post, she suffers from anxiety so it’s not all roses. Once again, I am just politely filling you in and by no means trolling you! xx

      • Nah, it’s alright. I’m not bothered at all by your comment. I wasn’t saying it that way either. I just was trying to make the point that she probably has lots of fun too and her cultural knowledge is huge, what I’d like for myself. I’m not calling her “spoiled brat”, I know she worked hard to be where she is and I’m happy for her. I just wish I could travel sometimes too, that’s what I was on about. I think you misinterpreted it.

  • cristina

    Uauuu!!!

    NEW POST with SLIPON. What do you think?Do you like ?

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  • Paula Fleur

    Thank you for thoughts you shared with us! Definitely agree with you. The pictures are stunning
    Inspiration Point by Paula Fleur

  • Absolutely breathtaking.

    Liz

    http://www.LizTheAustinite.com

    Instagram: @LizTheAustinite

  • Vanessa Basanta

    very nice pics!!
    Visit my blog: Tu Nuevo Look
    Bloglovin

  • Such gorgeous photos!
    xo,
    Melissa
    MissyOnMadison.com

  • amazing photos, it is somewhere I plan on visiting even more now I have seen how gorgeous it is xxx

    http://labeau.co.uk/

  • Lindsay Truax

    Your photos are stunning. You look so peaceful

    pinkandnavystripes.com

  • Jennifer Wilson

    Gorgeous images. I have a craving to go here now! x

    http://modernensemble.com

  • Beautiful post, honest, real and insightful. And oh so true. Rest up, and remember that the entire community is there to help and guide you x

    Rachael, http://www.cumulusdiaries.com

  • Whitney V

    This is so very gorgeous, what a beautiful experience!! Thanks for sharing xxx

    Love,
    Whitney

    http://www.whitneyswonderland.com

  • Саша Тернер
  • Michèle

    Looks absolutely beautiful and impressive

    http://www.thefashionfraction.com

  • Grace Ulloa

    That place looks so pretty.

    Felt in love with your words, completely agree.

    Xx

    Grace

    http://www.rondademate.wordpress.com/

  • The art is simply beautiful. I learned a lot from my travel experience as well. It’s good that you see the reflection from others and are willing to grow up a little 🙂 Something to keep in mind for any traveler :)))

    http://www.vonvogue.com/
    New Post: Checked Skirt
    xoxo, Claire from Vancouver, Canada

  • Kayla

    Probably one of my favourite posts of yours. The mosque looks beautiful and the photography is fantastic.

    Thanks for such an insightful piece of writing. I wish you would share more of your stories/thoughts 🙂 when you do write more, it is really captivating and makes you want to read on. Have you ever thought about writing a book? I know that a few fashion bloggers are moving in to this now, but you have so many interesting/different experiences to share. I’m sure it would be so successful and stand out above the rest. Would love to hear what your plans are?

    • CTheds3986

      until I lo0ked at the check saying $886O , I didn’t believe …that…my brother was like realey earning money parttime from there labt0p. . there best friend haz done this 4 only twenty three months and a short time ago paid for the depts on there house and purchased a gorgeous Jaguar E-type .From this ————–http://richman.com….,.

  • Morgan

    I absolutely love when I find a blogger who is not only stylish, but beautiful on the inside. You are such an example and inspiration, please don’t stop doing what you’re doing.

  • This post is truly insightful. Thank you for letting us know about your struggles. I hope you will find peace once again very soon.

    Love,
    http://www.thestyleventure.com

  • Anxiety can be so crippling sometimes. I have always struggled with anxiety & it has been especially bad lately too. It’s comforting to know others understand & nice to hear what places/activities help them pull through. You are a beautiful person, peace will find you! Meditation has helped me in some of my worst times, I recommend it!

    http://www.fortunetellerfashion.com/
    xxFTF

  • Well written. Best wishes.

    http://life15juicy.wordpress.com/

  • maud.schellekens
  • Absolutely Beautiful!

    http://thecollectivestyle.com/

  • Cynthia Nguyen

    Your blog is like a travelling bible of beautiful dreams and miracles. I’m planning on travelling to Europe for my first time in April– your platform and your outfits will be a huge influence in my planning and trip. x

    Cynthia
    http://www.pinchofchic.com

  • Ailén

    Love the photos!!

    Kisses,

    IT GIRL AILÉN

  • Fashionpumpkin

    Incredible beautiful…great photos…

    http://www.fashionpumpkin.com

  • Beautifully rendered account of your travelling experience and the Blue Mosque. Sorry to hear that you’ve been fighting anxiety lately – I’ve experienced it and understand that it’s the most awful thing. Hope that wonderful experiences like the interior of the Istanbul mosques helped to bring you some inner peace!

    Tamsin / A Certain Adventure xx

  • Love your honesty and I hope you feel better soon x

    http://www.ameliabridget.com

  • Hayley Copland

    Beautiful post (as always), great advice xx

  • Beautiful place!!

    http://chezabelll.com/blog

  • I love your writing here, and your photos are stunning. Thank you for sharing and not being afraid to speak about anxiety.

    I totally agree with wanting to ACTUALLY see the world rather than ‘going on holiday’ – I have been surprised with a trip to Marrakech next month for my 2 year anniversary with my boyfriend and can’t wait to be completely immersed in it all!

    Katie <3

  • catsmyrna

    well come to Turkey :)) i am a Turkish blogger so i’m glad to see you in Turkey !! kissess…

    catsmyrna

  • Lovely photos and great travel tips – I think I’m definitely guilty of spending too much time taking photos and not enough time just taking in my surroundings!

    Sometime Traveller

  • Just breathtaking. Blue Mosque has to be one of the prettiest spots on the globe! ♥

    http://www.bucketlistbums.com

  • Des & Jen

    Amazing! 🙂 http://www.desjen.com

  • Melissa Findley. xx

    LOVE, LOVE this.

  • This is one of my favourite posts of yours. Thanks for sharing this story and writing in a way that transported me to the Blue Mosque. I hope you write more and share more stories on your posts as it adds another layer of depth and feeling to the photos, and gives more of an insight into the places you go. I love your currently philosophy on travel. To respect the place and people and see through the eyes of the locals, rather than just passing through as a tourist. This is how I also always aim to travel, although I am totally partial to including some creature comforts too. It is inspiring to me to hear that you are able to do all this whilst having anxiety. I have also had times of terrible anxiety and while travelling it can make it hard to enjoy as you can suddenly feel on edge, like you said suddenly clutching your chest without breath or reason. I hope you find good peace of mind again. I find doing yoga and meditation every day has helped me find mine.

  • Thank you for the magnificent photos you shared and for the story you revealed, and for inspiring me to do more kindness in life <3

    xx
    Hanna from http://ledolcewonderland.blogspot.com/

  • Melissa

    I have had agoraphobia/anxiety for the last two years. I traveled for a year when I studied abroad in Italy (anxiety-free,) and often reminisce about that time. I dream about the future when I’ll be less anxious and able to travel again. Knowing you have anxiety and are still able to travel so much gives me some hope. 🙂 Hoping you find peace as you continue on your travels.

    P.S. These particular pictures instilled a sense of awe in me, and maybe a hint of peace as well <3

  • Gliding

    I’m not normally one to comment on a blog- despite being a long time reader of yours, but felt compelled to as your post was written so honestly and rawly.

    I have recently realised that traveling has brought me so many joys, challenges and exposed me to countless people and experiences I never would have had the opportunity to had I not taken the leap. But conversely, traveling has led to me feeling “homeless” in the sense that now, when I return to my country, I don’t feel that bond to it I once did. However, that is often the price to pay with traveling when you extend from the citizenship of your own country, to the world.

    I’m sorry to hear about your anxiety. I too have suffered from it and these days am in a somewhat depressive period. It’s debilitating and sometimes it is so easy to feel brought down and sorry for yourself. Sometimes, it feels the easiest thing is to runaway, and that’s probably why I travel so much.

    As you said, it’s so important not just to have a list to tick off of tourists sites to see. But to LISTEN and EXPERIENCE on a deeper level by interacting with those who know the best- the locals. Sometimes it is hard to put yourself out there- but once I have I have only walked away richer.

    Thank you for an inspiring, thought provoking.

    By the way, a usual you look stunning! The photos are just incredible and have made me put Turkey on my travel list!

  • breathtaking mosque!!

    http://fashionandsounds.com/

  • Des

    Istanbul inspires me every time I go there. I love the Turkish Culture. 🙂 Turkey is one of the most hospitable countries I have visited so far.Thanks for sharing these photos. <3 http://www.desjen.com

  • matthew

    Wow, the building looks fantastic and splendid.
    http://www.abitit.com/

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  • Stasha

    Try “Tapping” , it works!