Istanbul Sultan Ahmed Mosque or Blue Mosque is one of the most magnificent buildings in Türkiye. The name “blue” is taken from the blue tiles used inside the building. This unusual and beautiful mosque is located in the center of old Istanbul and was built for Sultan Ahmed I of the Ottoman Empire.
History of Sultan Ahmed Mosque
The Blue Mosque was built by the order of Sultan Ahmed I when he was only 19 years old. This mosque is located near the Hagia Sophia and was built on the site of an ancient equestrian arena and the palace of the Byzantine Empire. The Royal Mosque of Sultan Ahmed I was built between 1609 and 1616. This famous mosque was built by the famous architect Mohammad Sadafkar.
Sultan Ahmed, who was very worried about the completion of this great mosque, was often involved in this process. He died only one year after completing his masterpiece at the age of 27.
His body was buried with his wife and three sons outside the mosque. The main complex of the mosque included a school, a hospital, a primary school, a bazaar, a mansion and the tomb of its founder, most of which were destroyed in the 19th century.
This mosque was built during the Ottoman Empire, it is one of the great examples of mosque architecture and design during the Ottoman Empire. Sultan Ahmed Mosque with 6 minarets and several domes, along with Hagia Sophia, is considered one of the most important and beautiful historical buildings in Istanbul and Turkey. Hagia Sophia and Sultan Ahmed Mosque are only a few minutes walk away.
As you know, mosques usually have 2 or 4 minarets, but this blue mosque has become one of the most spectacular mosques in the world with its unique 6 minarets. There is an interesting and telling story behind the construction of these 6 minarets.
Some said that the Sultan ordered the architect to build golden minarets (“Golden” in Turkish is “Altin”), which were mistakenly made 6 minarets (Alti in Turkish is 6).
In any case, the origin of this unique feature, whatever it was, caused a great scandal because, as we know, the Holy Mosque in Mecca, the holiest place for Muslims in the world, had six minarets. For this reason, Sultan Ahmad sent his architect to Makkah to add a seventh minaret to the Masjid al-Haram to complete the gaila.
The next important feature of the exterior of the Blue Mosque is its waterfall domes, which appear to cascade down from the central dome. The archway under each dome adds its own visual rhythm to the collection. Nothing from the exterior has anything to do with the name Blue Mosque, and this name is derived from the blue tiles inside the building.
On summer nights at 9 o’clock, a historical narrative show and a light show will be held in the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Interpretations and side explanations are available to visitors in Turkish, English, French and German.
Inside, the ceiling of the mosque is decorated with a row of 20,000 blue tiles, from which the famous name of the mosque is derived. These tiles, which are an excellent example of 16th century Iznik design, have designs of flowers, trees and abstract patterns. The final design exposes one of the most beautiful views of Istanbul to the visitors. Iznik tiles can be seen in some galleries and above the entrance of the north wall.
The interior of the mosque was lit by 260 windows that were once filled with stained glass in the 17th century. Unfortunately, those glasses are gone and replaced by inferior samples.
To preserve the sanctity of the mosque, non-Muslims must enter from the west side (the entrance to the riding arena). Chains hang from this gate, which makes everyone, even the Sultan, have to bow when entering on horseback.
It is interesting to know that ostrich eggs are placed on mosque chandeliers to prevent spiders from creating cobwebs in the mosque.
The interior design of the mosque includes verses from the Holy Quran decorated by Seyed Qasim Ghobari, one of the best calligraphers of that time. The floor of the mosque is also carpeted with carpets donated by believers to the mosque. Of course, these carpets are replaced as soon as they become old.
This mosque also has 8 side domes. Each half-dome of Sultan Ahmed Mosque has 14 windows. The central dome also has 28 windows, 4 of which are currently closed.
The best time to visit is mid-morning and you must take off your shoes to enter. Also, women should cover their hair and hands with a scarf when visiting. There is no entrance fee to visit the mosque and you should not speak loudly and use camera flash while in the mosque.
Sightseeing attractions of Sultan Ahmed Mosque
- The courtyard of the mosque; The entire courtyard of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is surrounded by similar porches and 26 columns.
- The minarets of the Sultan Ahmad Mosque; The first time a mosque with six minarets was built in Turkey was Sultan Ahmed Mosque.
- Shabestan Mosque; The lower part of the columns is seen with traditional tiles and beautiful designs.
- Colored windows and the magnificent roof of the Blue Mosque; Stand in the mosque and slowly turn around and look at the 260 orsi (a type of latticed window) and colorful Sultan Ahmed windows.
- Mihrab of the mosque; It is made of beautifully carved white marble and its splendor is completed in the upper part with successive niches and cascades.
- Mosque chandeliers; Ostrich eggs were used on these chandeliers, which repel spiders and prevent spider webs from closing.
- Kingdom Pavilion; In the southeast corner of the mosque, you can find the king’s pavilion and special for Sultan Ahmed.
- Blue mosque calligraphy; The calligraphy inside the mosque is taken from the verses of the Quran and is a work of Seyyed Kazem Gobari, one of the best calligraphers of the 17th century.
- Сolored glass and tiling of the mosque; In the 2014 restoration project of the Blue Mosque, the number of tiles of this mosque was counted as unique and its number was estimated at 23 thousand pieces.