Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

This content was last updated on 24.01.2024 22:20

The "Sultanahmet Mosque" is one of the most important symbolic structures of Istanbul. With its fascinating and magnificent structure and history, it is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city by local and foreign tourists. Also known as the "Blue Mosque" because of the blue tiled decorations inside.

Blue Mosque

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, one of the most enchanting elements of the Istanbul skyline, is also a paramount symbol of the city. Its mesmerizing allure goes beyond its imposing appearance. As the first mosque constructed with six minarets, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque possesses unique features that set it apart. Situated just across from the Hagia Sophia, this mosque has remained one of Istanbul's most significant historical landmarks since its construction. In this article, we will provide detailed information about the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, admired by everyone visiting Istanbul.

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Blue Mosque History

The Blue Mosque, which was built by "Sedefkar Mehmet Ağa" by Sultan "Ahmet I" between 1609 and 1616, is located in the southeast of what used to be the "Horse Square" today, known as Sultanahmet Square. The complex, which also includes the mosque, consists of hospital, arasta, soup kitchen, 3 public fountains and tombs. The architect of the complex is "Sedefkar Mehmet Ağa".

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The first pickaxe, which was struck on the foundation of the mosque by Sultan Ahmet I, is now exhibited in the Topkapi Palace Museum. The Blue Mosque became the main mosque of Istanbul after Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1935, and today it is among the most visited places in the city by both local and foreign tourists.

Note: Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque again in 2020 and opened for worship.

Some Little Facts About The Blue Mosque

  • "Sultan Ahmet I" was the 14th of the Ottoman Sultans, he reigned for 14 years and was 14 years old.

  • "Sultan Ahmet I" carried soil on his skirt while the foundations of the mosque were being dug.

  • The mosque is located in one of the biggest complexes of Istanbul and many structures in this complex have not survived until today.

  • The mosque is designed in such a way that the congregation can hear the imam even when it is most crowded. With this acoustic feature, it differs from many mosques in the city.

  • It is Turkey's first mosque with 6 minarets. While the 2 minarets in the front courtyard have two balconies, the other four are located at the corners of the mosque and each has 3 balconies.

  • The purpose of the cordon made at the western entrance of the courtyard was for the sultan, who entered the mosque with his horse, to lower his head to avoid hitting the cordon. This practice shows that even the sultan had to tidy himself up when entering the mosque.

  • Sultanahmet is known as the "Blue Mosque" among foreign tourists. The most important reason for this is that the blue color is dominant in the mosque.

  • Mosques built by the Ottoman sultans and their families are called "Selatin Mosque". It is the 6th of the Sultanahmet Selatin Mosques. It also has an important place in terms of being the only Selatin Mosque in Turkey with 6 minarets.

  • The mosque is considered one of the most important works of classical architecture after "Mimar Sinan".

  • Sedefkar Mehmet Ağa, the architect of the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, is one of Mimar Sinan's students.

  • Sultan Ahmet Mosque is one of the historical buildings on the "UNESCO World Heritage List". It was taken under protection by UNESCO in 1985 and added to the World Heritage List.

Features of the Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

The most important aspect of the Blue Mosque in terms of architecture and art is that it is decorated with more than 20 thousand Iznik tiles. Traditional plant motifs in blue and yellow tones were used in the decoration of these tiles. This made the mosque much more than a place of worship.

The central dome of the mosque is 43 meters high and 23.5 meters in diameter. The interior of the mosque is illuminated with more than 200 colored glass.

Another important feature of the Blue Mosque is that it is the pinnacle of a 200-year-old synthesis of Ottoman mosque architecture and Byzantine church architecture. While traditional Islamic architecture dominates, it also contains some Byzantine influences from its neighbor Hagia Sophia.

The facade of the large forecourt was built in the same style as the façade of the Süleymaniye Mosque, except for the addition of small towers on the corner domes. The courtyard with ablutions on both sides is almost as wide as the mosque.

The marble-paved inner courtyard is surrounded by a portico covered with 30 domes resting on 26 columns. The fountain in the middle of the courtyard has 6 columns and the columns are decorated with tulip and carnation motifs. To the east and west of the mosque extends the inner courtyard wall and the two-storey portico facing the outer courtyard.

In the direction of Hagia Sophia (northeast corner) of the mosque, there is the madrasah, the tomb where Ahmet I, his mother and sons are buried. The central courtyard of the madrasah, which has a classical style, is surrounded by rooms placed behind the domed porticoes. While the outside of the Sultan Ahmet Tomb is covered with marble, the inside is adorned with tiles. This building has a square plan, a portico and a dome. Its door is made of mother-of-pearl inlay.

The bazaar, located just behind the mosque, is known as Arasta and is said to have been built together with the kulliye. Arasta, also known as the Sipahiler Bazaar, is now known as one of the most visited places by both local and foreign tourists after the mosque.

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Inside the Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

The interior of the Blue Mosque is adorned with more than 20 thousand tiles made of nearly 50 different patterns. While the tiles on the lower level are more traditional, the tiles in the gallery are much more ostentatious and decorated with flowers, fruits and cypresses.

More than 200 patterned glasses that transmit natural light are supported by chandeliers and give a different atmosphere to the interior of the mosque. In order to prevent the formation of spider webs, ostrich eggs were placed on the chandeliers. Most of the calligraphy decorations containing words from the Holy Quran were made by the famous calligrapher of the period, "Seyid Kasım Gubari".

The large windows of the mosque give the feeling of a large and spacious environment. The windows on the ground floor are decorated with a flooring style called "Opus Sectile".

One of the most important works in the mosque is the mihrab made of carved and chipped marble. The adjacent walls are decorated with tiles.

The pulpit on the right side of the mihrab is richly decorated. Sultan Mahfili is located in the southeast corner. Consisting of rest rooms, porch and platform, the Sultan Mahfili has a passage to the sultan's lodge in the southeast upper gallery.

Surahs from the Quran and the names of the caliphs are written on the large tablets on the walls. These were made by the famous calligrapher of the 17th century, "Kasım Gübari" from Diyarbakır.

Where is the Blue Mosque and How to Go?

The Blue Mosque is located in Sultanahmet, one of the most touristic districts of Istanbul. There are many alternatives for transportation to the mosque. The easiest way to reach the mosque is to use the Bağcılar - Kabataş tram line. You can get off at the Sultanahmet stop with these trams, and after walking for a few minutes from this stop, you can reach the entrance of the mosque.

In order to reach the mosque from the Anatolian Side, you must first go to Eminönü or Kabataş by sea. From there, you can use the Bağcılar - Kabataş tram line. The distance between Eminönü and the mosque is not far. If you wish, it is also possible to reach the mosque by walking from Eminönü.

Blue Mosque Entrance Fee

Entry to the Blue Mosque is free.

Blue Mosque Visiting Hours

You can visit the Blue Mosque between 09:00 - 17:00 in winter and between 09:00 - 19:00 in summer.

Mosque visits on Fridays start after 14:30.

What's Around The Blue Mosque

The place where the mosque is located is Sultanahmet Square, which is famous for hosting the most important historical and touristic places of Istanbul. Among the structures worth seeing in the square are the serpent column, the knitted column, the obelisk and the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum.

The Basilica Cistern and Hagia Sophia Mosque are also very close to the mosque. These two important historical buildings are among the most important historical places you can see here. In addition, the Grand Bazaar is less than a 10-minute walk from the mosque.

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