Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

The Blue Mosque or Sultanahmet Camii is a historic mosque of Istanbul, known as the Blue Mosque because of ceramic adorning the walls of its interior. It was built between 1609 and 1616, during the reign of Sultan Ahmet 1 who decide to build it to appease God after the unfavorable outcome of the war with Persia. It has the tomb of the founder, a school and a hospice. It is the starting point for caravans of Muslim pilgrims to Mecca, it has six minarets. Its dome 23.5 meters in diameter is supported by four massive pillars and buttressed by four semi-domes; 260 windows flood the light building. The interior is decorated with 21,043 tiles from Iznik in a dominant blue. The prayer hall is topped by an ascending system of domes and semi-domes, each supported by three porticos, culminating with the large central dome which has 43m high at its central point. The decorations include verses from the Koran. The floors are carpeted, with carpets given by the faithful and are regularly replaced when worn. The most important element in the interior is the mihrab made of marble. The yard is about as large as the mosque itself and is surrounded by a continuous, rather monotonous vaulted arcades. The central hexagonal fountain is rather small in contrast to the dimensions of the court. The monumental door, but wide, to the courtyard is characterized by the architecture of the arcade. Until recently the muezzin calling to prayer or had to climb a narrow spiral staircase five times a day to announce the call to prayer. Today a public sound system is used, and the call can be heard through the old part of the city, echoed by other mosques nearby.

Tips

The Sultanahmet Mosque has become one of the most popular tourist attractions of Istanbul. Large crowds of Turks and tourists gather at sunset in the park in front of the mosque to hear the call to evening prayer at sunset and the mosque is brilliantly illuminated by colored spotlights.
The large backyard has sanitary facilities on both sides.

Chapel of the Holy Christ of Humility, El Toboso, Toledo, Spain

In the city of El Toboso, Toledo, Spain, there were fourteen small churches or chapels around which the popular class neighborhoods emerged articulated with irregular squares, which are real scenarios of celebrations. Some were inside the fence or wall that protected urban space. Currently, there are only three of these chapels still standing and one of them is the chapel of the Holy Christ of Humility that was a former hospital for the poor in the past. The chapel has simple lines with the use of stone and brick on the outside. It has a large wooden door with wrought iron.

Tips

If you are able to visit the city during the Easter period you can participate in the celebrations of Holy Week, on Easter Monday, they take the Holy Christ of Humility out of the chapel and make a procession from the chapel Holy Christ of Humility to the parish church. In this procession people accompaign carrying flags. This day ends with a mass in the parish.

You can also assist to the mass evry Friday evening all year long.

St. Joseph’s Oratory, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

St. Joseph’s Oratory is the largest church in Canada, located on the northwest flank of Mount Royal in Montreal. The secondary element of the site is the Catholic basilica whose dimensions, its cross and the dome (60 m high and 39 m in diameter) are remarkable. The place has gardens where you can take a holy path with several sculptures that represent the Passion of Christ. Brother André took the initiative for its construction which started through donations and in 1904 a small modest chapel dedicated to St. Joseph, was inaugurated but it could not contain all the faithful while its doors were open and the faithful were praying outside so they decided to expand the place and the same was extended twice for the present appearance that can accommodate 1,000 people. The walls are covered with silver granite and the dome is covered with copper. There are several sculptures, paintings, stained glass windows, a chime and a large important organ. There are 283 steps to climb to the oratory and nearly a hundred are in wood for pilgrims who want to get it on his knees. Outside the church there is the Chapel of Brother André that is also his grave. He was beatified in 1982 by Pope John Paul II. Father André was known to receive sick people and heal them through his prayers to St. Joseph so there is a chapel where you’ll see the canes, prostheses, corsets, etc., which left the sick who felt healed.

Tips

At Christmas time, you can visit a part of a collection of more than 900 nativity scenes in the Oratory Museum.
The heart of Brother André is exposed behind a wrought iron gate in the exhibit room dedicated to his life and his work.