Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii) is considered to be the largest and most magnificent mosque in Istanbul and is a true masterpiece of Ottoman architecture. It was built during the reign of Sultan Ahmed I, who ruled between 1603 and 1617.

A student of the most important Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan was commissioned with the construction and built it from 1609 until its completion in 1616. Not only was the placement carefully selected, but also the building materials and interior decoration of the mosque. Hundreds of meters of precious silk rugs from the palaces’ own weavings, crystal oil lamps from abroad and thousands of blue Iznik tiles, which gave the mosque its European name, were used. The Blue Mosque is famous for its graceful composition of domes and half-domes, as well as for its impressive yet harmonious proportions.

What distinguishes the Blue Mosque from all other mosques in the Islamic world are its six minarets. Four of them, which rise at the corners, have three balconies each. According to an urban legend, the Sultan expressed the request to have the minarets made of gold. The architect Mehmet Ağa misunderstood the Turkish word “altın” – for gold – as “altı” – for the number 6. Thus, he had six minarets built, whose silhouette still contributes to the characteristic beauty of the city today. The sultan then donated a seventh minaret to the al-Haram mosque in Mecca, making it in terms of their number of minarets again the largest in Islam. To this day, it is unclear whether the master builder decided that the golden material was too precious and whether the misunderstanding was intended.

The complex of the Blue Mosque consists of a madrasa, a soup kitchen, a caravanserai, a fountain, a hospital, sales halls and mausoleums. Its interior decoration is of such beauty that in its time it overshadowed all previously built Ottoman mosques.

A total of 260 windows illuminate the interior, whose colorful glass panes are now modern replicas of the original Venetian glass. The 43-meter-high main dome is supported by four pointed arches and four pendentifs, resting on four ribbed, almost 5-meter-thick pillars. The prayer room is almost square. A black Kaaba stone from the holy city of Mecca is in the prayer niche. Right next to the niche is the “Minbar”, the pulpit for Friday prayers.

The loge of the Koran singers in front of the pulpit is a true reflection of the singer’s loge in Mecca. To the left of the prayer niche is the royal loge of the Sultan, where the sultan once said his prayers. Various suras from the Koran and the words of the Prophet Muhammad adorn the high walls of the mosque. The forecourt is the same size as the building itself. You can enter it through one of the three large entrances on the sides of the courtyard.

After its completion, the Sultan was able to enjoy the view of the Sultanahmet Mosque named after him for only a year. He was buried in a mausoleum in the complex of the mosque. His wife and three of his sons rest in the mausoleum, which is accessible to visitors.

Enter the gates of a world-famous building and admire the combination of art and religion, perched on one of the seven hills overlooking the city.

  • Sultan Ahmet, Atmeydanı Cd. No:7, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul
  • Opening Hours: 9:00 am -7:00 pm 

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