I donned my robe and headscarf (all borrowed from the mosque) and proceeded to walk around and observe. Although a lot of the exterior was under renovation. Inside the mosque, however, was a huge atrium with intricately designed pillars, walls and domes. It was breathtaking. At one point, I sat down on the carpet to just look up and enjoy the astounding yet exquisite architecture.
Built between 1609 to 1616 by the architect Mehmet Ağa as instructed by Sultan Ahmet I, the Blue Mosque is dubbed as so because of the 20,000 handmade ceramic Iznik tiles that decorate the interior, featuring many different tulip, rose, carnation, and lily designs, well lit by 260 windows. [Source: Istanbul Tours Studio]
It's believed that there was a misunderstanding between the architect and the sultan. Instead of building golden minarets, the architect built six minarets instead. This was not a good thing and the mistake sparked controversy in the Islam community because at that time, the only other mosque with six minarets was the Prophet's mosque in Mecca. Eventually, they resolved the issue by building one more minaret at the latter.
People I Met (Istanbul pt.2)
So going back to my story about the young man AKA Mr. Volunteer Tour Guide...
I purposely stayed longer inside the mosque so I can lose him. I really didn't want to prolong the interaction, and I was very wary that I might be getting scammed, or worse, about to get robbed.
I walked out of the Exit, and there he was happily waving at me. He said "Since you're done with the tour, can I interest you to go to my cousin's shop at the Grand Bazaar?"
"No commitments. You can just look."
I remember saying I didn't want to go with him, but he was insistent. There's also a factor that I wanted to see the Grand Bazaar since I was already there. I responded, "Ok, but just quickly. I have a plane to catch." That was not a lie. I really had to hurry back to the Ataturk Airport.
True enough, he took me to a relative's shop. They tried to sell me carpets, scarves and jewelry. While the prices were quite reasonable, I didn't plan to splurge on anything, nor did I want to be lugging around a carpet from Day 1 of my Europe backpacking trip. You can try imagining how silly that would have looked like. I did and I quickly laughed it off.
He eventually gave up and just wanted to chat. His cousin fixed us up both an apple tea, which we drank at the part of the street overlooking to the Blue Mosque. I said my goodbyes, and I fast-walked to about three blocks away where I can get an Uber.
Re: scam -- it's not a scam per se. But it feels like a scam when there's lots of hardselling involved. I looked this up on TripAdvisor and saw someone saying the same thing about the "free tour guide."