Bari The skyline of Istanbul, Turkey is dominated by the cascade of domes and the 6 slim minarets of the Blue Mosque, officially known as the Sultan Ahmet Mosque. The mosque is named after Sultan Ahmet I, who had it built in the 17th century because he wanted Turkey to have an even better Islamic place of worship than the Hagia Sophia. The Blue Mosque now stands next to Hagia Sophia in Istanbul’s main square, and visitors get to decide which architectural achievement is more impressive.
History of the Blue Mosque
Sultan Ahmet I was just 19 years old when he commissioned the Blue Mosque. He had it built over the site of the ancient Byzantine imperial palace and hippodrome, near the Hagia Sophia. It took seven years for the Blue Mosque to be constructed from 1609 onwards.
The architect Mehmet Aga designed the mosque after his predecessor had been executed for wanting. Sultan Ahmet often helped in the work because he was anxious and wanted to make sure his magnificent creation would be completed as he desired. Sadly, a year after his masterpiece was completed, the 27-year old Sultan Ahmet passed away. Sultan Ahmet, his wife and his three sons are all buried outside the mosque.
Initially, a han, hospital, an imaret, a madrasa, a market, a primary school and the tomb of its founder were included in the original mosque complex. However, in the 19th century, a majority of these buildings got torn down.
Things To See At The Blue Mosque
The six minarets of the Blue Mosque that are visible from far away are among the most prominent features of the Blue Mosque. Most mosques usually have just one, two, or four minarets, so this is very unique. According to an account, the architect had been directed to build altin (gold) minarets, but he misunderstood the word as alti (six).
Since Mecca’s Haram Mosque, which is the world’s holiest mosque, also had six minarets, so quite a scandal was caused by this unique feature of the Blue Mosque. Ultimately, Sultan Ahmet had his architect sent to Mecca to get a seventh minaret added there.
The beautifully-arranged cascading domes that appear to flow down from the great central dome is another stunning feature of the Blue Mosque’s exterior. Further visual rhythm is added since each dome has an arcade running beneath it. The interior of the mosque features blue tiles and that is why it is referred to as the “Blue Mosque.”
The Blue Mosque also has a beautifully decorated main west entrance and it is worth looking at. However, to preserve the holiness of the mosque, the north entrance has to be used by non-worshippers, which is the Hippodrome. Symbolic chains hang from this gate, which prompt visitors to bow their head as they enter.
Inside, 20,000 blue tiles line the ceiling. Abstract patterns, flowers and trees, which are fine examples of Iznik design from the 16th century, are featured on the oldest tiles. Overall, the ceiling of the Blue Mosque is one of Istanbul’s most beautiful sights. It is also possible to see the Iznik tiles in the galleries and above the main entrance on the north wall. There are also 260 windows inside the mosque, though without the 17th-century stained glass that once filled them.
Luckily for British citizens, they may get a Turkey visa on arrival at any port, and may easily pay a visit to Istanbul and see the Blue Mosque.