Blue Mosque - Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Istanbul

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Sultanahmet district +90 212 518 13 19

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  • Donna_in_India's Profile Photo

    One of Istanbul's Stars

    by Donna_in_India Updated Mar 16, 2014

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    What can be said about the Blue Mosque that hasn't already been said? For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to see it. It is as synonymous to Istanbul as the Grand Bazaar. It is what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, the Statue of Liberty is to New York, the Taj Mahal is to India. It is one of the most famous and most recognizable buildings in the world. In the end I found it to be extraordinary but it wasn't, as I expected, my favorite site in Istanbul. I would have to say though, that it is the #1 must see in Istanbul.

    The Blue Mosque is really called Sultanahmet Camii. Architect Mehmet Aga created this Ottoman masterpiece for Sultan Ahmet I in 8 short years beginning in 1609. My favorite features - the cascading domes and six minarets - make this a stunning building from the outside. It was the six minarets though that provoked hostility because it was considered a sacrilegous attempt to rival the Elharam Mosque in Mecca. In the end, Sultan Ahmet I had to send Aga to Mecca to build a seventh minaret for the Elharam Mosque to reestablish its prominence in the Islamic world.

    Much larger than I expected, the Sultanahmet Camii is 213 feet by 239 feet. It is so huge that it can be seen from many spots around the city - and it is from a distance that you can fully appreciate its beauty (and its size!).

    We walked through the courtyard to the entrance. We removed our shoes, I covered my head, and we stepped inside. My eyes adjusted to the light and I looked around in awe. There was so much to see, so many fantastic details. The carpeted floor seemed to go on forever. The area for worshipper's was roped off and non-Muslim men and all women were not permitted past the rope. There was a separate section in the back for women worshippers.

    The mosque is nicknamed the Blue Mosque because of the 20,000 blue-green hand painted Iznik tiles inside. (Iznik pottery is made from hard, white "fritware" which is similar to procelain.) The tiles themselves have over 50 different designs (including floral designs - tulips) and are very beautiful. Although it was not brightly lit inside, light comes from the 260 stained-glass windows and the 141 feet high center dome. (The celing of the dome is painted with very pretty Arabic patterns.) There is also a huge (very low) chandelier (as well as other chandeliers) that had small strings of lights but must have once held candles.

    Other special highlights inside:

    The Mihrab - an ornate niche in the wall that marks the direction of Mecca.
    The Mimbar - a lofty pulpit from where the imam (head of the mosque) delivers his Friday khutba (sermon).
    The Loge - provided the sultan with a screened-off balcony where he could pray.

    We spent a good amount of time inside - there was so much to see - before making our way back to the large courtyard which interestingly covers the same amount of space as the prayer hall to balance the whole building. In the middle of the courtyard is the ablutions fountain where worshippers would wash their head, hands, and feet before entering the mosque. This fountain is no longer in use and the ablutions ritual is performed at a line of taps next to the entrance to the courtyard.

    Please be quiet and respectful of worshippers (no photos!). No flash photography is permitted. Women must cover their heads, proper dress for all. Allow at least an hour to visit.

    The mosque is opposite Hagia Sophia and within walking distance of Topkapi Palace and Basilica Cistern. Within the mosque are the Carpet and Kilim Museums. Entrance to the museums is $2.

    No charge for entrance into the mosque, although donations are accepted.

    The mosque is open 8:30 a.m. to noon, and 1:45 - 4:30 p.m. Access is restricted during prayer times, particularly mid-day Fridays.

    Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque, Istanbul Inside Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque, Istanbul Womens Section Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque, Istanbul Ceiling, Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque, Istanbul Courtyard, Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque, Istanbul
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  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo

    Sultan Ahmed Mosque

    by HORSCHECK Updated Apr 6, 2013

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    The construction of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii) was commissioned by Sultan Ahmed I at the beginning of the 17th century. It is also known under the name Blue Mosque, due to the blue tiles in the interior.

    With 6 minarets and a capacity of approximately 10.000 people it is one of the biggest mosques in Istanbul.

    Directions:
    The Sultan Ahmed Mosque overlooks the southern side of the Sultan Ahmed Square in the touristy Sultanahmet district.

    Sultan Ahmed Mosque Sultan Ahmed Mosque Sultan Ahmed Mosque at night
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  • H-TownJourneyman's Profile Photo

    Inside Of The Blue Mosque

    by H-TownJourneyman Updated Feb 19, 2007

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    If you thought the outside of the Blue Mosque was impressive, wait until you step inside! As it is still a working mosque, shoes must be taken off before you enter the Blue Mosque. Bags are provided to place your shoes in before you enter though. The intricately decorated Iznik ceramic tiles surround the entire interior of the mosque, many of them blue in color, for which the mosque takes it's name. Several huge chandeliers dangle from above, and a small word of caution with these. Watch your head, at least if you are on the tall side, as they hang fairly low! I found this out a couple of times! :) The many windows with stained glass let in an immense amount of light, allowing for spectacular natural illumination within. The entire floor is covered in prayer rugs, which I would imagine makes this place quite an amazing sight at prayer time. as big as the interior is. Upon exiting, donations are encouraged, which i gladly gave to see this exquisite structure!

    Inside Of The Blue Mosque
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  • nicolaitan's Profile Photo

    The Interior of the Blue Mosque

    by nicolaitan Updated Mar 14, 2009

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    The massive interior of the Sultan Ahmet Camii is dominated by the huge pillars supporting the domed roof, the exquisite blue tiles after which the mosque is named, and innumerable stained glass windows flooding the central area with light ( and making photography difficult in the morning hours - the pulpit and carved marble mihrab images simply did not work ). Each of the domes contains between 12 and 24 windows as well. These windows originally were of 17th C Venetian glass, but no longer. Chandeliers add to the overall light feeliing of the great room, contrasting with the dark rooms of the Ayasofia. Even the huge mobs of tourists could not detract from the beauty of this prayer room.

    The mosque is named for the blue coloring in over 20000 handmade ceramic Iznik tiles featuring over 50 tulip designs as well as abstract patterns, trees, and other flowers. Ottoman emperors, like many European rulers, favored Chinese porcelain for collection, so cities like Iznik imitated these works. Unable to create porcelain, their potteries and tiles were comprised mostly of silica with some glass and clay. The Iznik designers were more innovative than others and became the favorites of the sultans, with their tiles finding their way into many palaces and mosques commissioned by Suleyman, his wife Roxelana, and by the grand vizier Rustem Pasa ( who commissioned my favorite mosque - see tip below ) including the Topkapi Palace. Originally the source of many kinds of decorative pottery, Iznik eventually devoted itself almost entirely to making tiles for the sultans and viziers. As the Ottoman Empire declined, the sultans fixed prices for the tiles in a weak economy, and the quality of the tiles and other decorative pieces deteriorated after the 17th Century.

    Iznik is an old city - its name derives from Nikaia, the wife of Lysimakhos, who ruled Anatolia after the death of Alexander the Great.

    iznik tiles the elephant foot columns

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  • Birsen's Profile Photo

    Blue Mosque

    by Birsen Written May 6, 2005

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    The last great imperial mosque, The Blue Mosque, was founded by Sultan Ahmet I and constructed by the architect Mehmet Aga between 1609 and 1616. Sultan Ahmet wanted to surpass Justinian and his Hagia Sophia, and on the other hand architect Mehmet Aga wanted to surpass his master Sinan. Sultan Ahmet was given little time to enjoy his mosque, for he died the year after its completion, when he was only twenty seven years of age.
    The Sultan Ahmet Mosque differs from the other mosques in Istanbul because of its six minarets. The courtyard of the mosque is almost as large as the prayer hall and makes one notice the elegance of the building with 26 granite columns covered by 30 small domes. At the center of the courtyard there is an octagonal sadirvan which serves only as decorative purpose.

    Blue Mosque
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  • H-TownJourneyman's Profile Photo

    Sultanahmet Camii

    by H-TownJourneyman Updated Feb 19, 2007

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    The history of the Sultanahmet Mosque, commonly referred to as the Blue Mosque, dates back to the year 1609, when it was commissioned to be built by Sultan Ahmet I. It was completed in the year 1616, much of it decorated with beautiful marble coming from the island of Marmara located in the nearby Sea of Marmara. The lovely blue tiles that cover the domes of the structure fit naturally with the name, but the Blue Mosque actually takes it's name from the Iznik ceramic tiles within it's interior, many of them blue in color. The huge courtyard in front, and it's 6 towering minarets (the Blue Mosque is the only mosque in Turkey with 6 minarets!) only add to the beauty of this one of a kind sight here in Istanbul.

    Me At The Blue Mosque
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  • fachd's Profile Photo

    Blue Mosque

    by fachd Updated Sep 5, 2007

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    I was told by my friend who has been to Istanbul to visit the Blue Mosque also known as Sultan Ahmet Camii.

    The Blue Mosque is Istanbul's most famous landmark and it is the only mosque in Turkey with six minarets. It is located opposite the splendid Hagia Sophia in Sultanahmet Square of the old Istanbul.

    The first time I saw the mosque, my first impression was this must be the biggest mosque on earth. The six minarets, the numbers of domes and semi domes continually catches my eyes, it look impressive. There are fountain in the courtyard. The fountain is use by the Muslims to wash themselves before entering the mosque to pray.

    The interior it has many chandeliers and is covered by blue Iznik ceramic tiles, thus giving the name Blue Mosque. There are over 200 stain glass windows to let the sun in. The floor is all carpeted with prayer rugs. The Blue mosque is a working mosque. Every Friday the Muslims will come to the mosque to pray. The floor will hold about 10,000 devotees. The visitor must remove their shoes and the women must wear the hijab before entering the mosque.

    Sultan Ahmet the First ordered the construction of the Blue Mosque in 1609 to out do the splendid Hagia Sophia. He wanted to show that the Ottoman can produce as good if not better than the Christian culture. To compete with the competitor Sedefkar Mehmet Aya the architect built six minarets and designed the perfect proportion of domes and semi domes. The stone masons who construct Taj Mahal were also used to build the Blue Mosque. It was completed in 1616.

    Stain glass window Posing in front of the Blue Mosque One the minaret The main dome Chandeliers
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  • gilabrand's Profile Photo

    Roses are Red, Some Mosques are Blue

    by gilabrand Updated Jan 9, 2007

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    The Sultanahmet Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque, is an Istanbul landmark that you just can’t miss. There are loads of mosques in Istanbul, but this one beats them all at the minaret game. It has six, which is virtually unheard of in the Islamic world.

    With these slender Ottoman-style towers and a series of blue-gray domes, it is an imposing building indeed. In the olden days, the muezzin called the faithful to prayer from high up in the tower, but since the advent of tape recorders and loudspeakers, muezzins have found themselves out of a job.

    As you walk up the steps from the huge courtyard, you will be directed to the tourist entrance, which is separate from the one used by local Muslims. Near the door is a large bin full of empty plastic bags. Take one for your shoes. With thousands of tourists traipsing in and out every day, imagine how many shoe mix-ups there must have been when the custom was to just leave them outside.

    What I still can’t figure out is where all those blue Iznik tiles are, that supposedly give the mosque its name. Granted, it was darkish inside, with the light coming from stained glassed windows and tiny lights strung up on iron chandeliers that must have once held candles. But blue was not a dominant color as far as I could see.

    What caught my eye more were the vast stretches of carpet divided up into rectangles in a pattern that ultimately provided each worshipper with his “own” little prayer rug. My engineer husband, who likes numbers, took a mental measurement and declared each segment 60 x 120 cm.

    Lots of feet
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  • nicolaitan's Profile Photo

    The National Mosque of Turkey

    by nicolaitan Updated Feb 8, 2009

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    Six minarets and a roof of ever-enlarging domes overlook and dominate the Istanbul skyline, the legacy of Sultan Ahmet I who commissioned this mosque after overseas military defeats to reinstore faith and specifically to rival the converted church Hagia Sophia. The mosque occupies the site of several pre-existing palaces and was designed by royal architect Sedifhar Mehmet Aga, a pupil of the legendary Sinan. It required seven years to construct (1609-16) with the main prayer area 70 x 80 yards. Much of the planning is similar to earlier works of the great master Sinan. The mosque is directly across from the Hagia Sophia but faces at an angle to allow those praying to directly face Mecca.

    The beauty of the famous roof is best appreciated from a distance ( image 1 ) with the slender elegant minarets ( image 2 ) surrounding the multi-domed roof with the largest central dome 25 yards across and almost 50 yard in height. The best views were from the main square passing toward the Hagia Sophia. Tourists enter from the Hippodrome through a narrow gate with an iron chain along the upper part, placed so that even the sultan ( who was the only person allowed to enter on horseback ) had to bow his head before Allah ( image 4 ). The gate allows entrance to a large central courtyard with a small fountain, a recurring vaulted arcade ( image 3 ), and ablution facilities along the walls. From there, the entrance to the mosque is through a more elaborate gateway. The courtyard itself is crowded and contains little of interest.

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  • pabertra's Profile Photo

    Visit the Blue Mosque

    by pabertra Updated Oct 28, 2004

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    The Blue Mosque,or Sultanahmet Camii, is a huge mosque with six huge minarets. At the time this was the same number of minarets at the mosque in Mecca, so the Sultan financed a seventh minaret to be built in Mecca to avoid being seen as heretical. The number of minarets is symbolic as Sultan Ahmet was the 6th sultan to rule after the conquest of Constantinople. The mosque also has 16 balconies which represent his place as the 16th sultan since the beginning of the Ottoman State.

    Though the exterior of the mosque is not blue it takes its name from the beautiful blue Iznik tiles that adorn the inside. It was built in 1617 and was the Sultan Ahmet's answer to the Aya Sofia.

    The structure of the building is fascinating as it has been constructed with an internal framework of bars that enable it to bend to withstand earthquakes. The temperature of the mosque is controlled by an underground pool.

    As you enter you will notice some of the tiles bear a floral like pattern. Although plant life is not typically permitted to be depicted in a mosque, this pattern was characteristic of the Ottomans.

    One of the most memorable things about the mosque are the huge suspended chandeliers that hold tiny votive candles.

    After your neck is thoroughly bent out of shape from staring towards the ceilings, wander outside to the courtyard which holds an ancient sundial used for determining prayer times.

    Then visit the small domed structure called Sultanahmet'in Turbesi, which is the tomb of the Sultan and his wife and sons. In the back they claim to display strands of the Prophet Mohammed's beard, but I'll let you be the judge on that one.

    Sultanahmet Camii
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  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    Blue Mosque

    by MalenaN Updated Aug 26, 2004

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    One of the masterpieces in Istanbul is the Blue mosque in Sultanahmet.
    Sultan Ahmet I had the mosque built in the beginning of the 17th century (1609 - 1616) and the architect Mehmet Aga constructed a mosque of great harmony and elegance. It has a typical Ottoman design.
    There are benches in front of the mosque and it's nice to sit down, just to admire the view.

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  • midnight_mike's Profile Photo

    The Blue Mosque

    by midnight_mike Written Jun 10, 2006

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    The Blue Mosque is perhaps one of the greatest works of architecture in the world. It is undoubtedly Istanbul’s most recognized symbol. I walked past it each day when I was in Istanbul and there was not a single moment when I didn’t marvel at its splendor.

    It was built for Sultan Ahmet I in 1617, across from Hagia Sophia. Its hilltop location and its proximity to the water make it visible from miles away. At night, floodlights add to the mosque’s charm. Although it is technically named the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, it is known to most tourists as the Blue Mosque because of its blue interior tiles.

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  • fouads's Profile Photo

    Blue mosque

    by fouads Written Apr 25, 2007

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    Sultan Ahmet Mosque or as it called Blue mosque

    From the main thing that you must see it in Istanbul is Sultan ahmet mosque
    it,s from the Ottman,s empire , it,s famous with it,s blue iznik tiles and
    unique with 6 minarets

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  • muratkorman's Profile Photo

    A beautiful mosque

    by muratkorman Updated Mar 8, 2010

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    Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) was built with the order of Ottoman Sultan Ahmet. Sedefhar Mehmet Aða, a pupil and senior assistant of Mimar Sinan was in charge of the construction which was completed in 1616. The blue mosque name comes from the interior lined with more than 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles, made at Iznik in more than fifty different tulip designs. This is one of the two mosques in Turkey with 6 minarets. Pope Benedict XVI visited the Sultanahmet Mosque on 30 November 2006 during his visit to Turkey. It marks only the second papal visit in history to a Muslim place of worship. During his tour, the pontiff turned towards Mecca in a gesture of Muslim prayer and conducted "Silent Prayer". Having removed his shoes, the Pope paused for a full two minutes, eyes closed in prayer, standing side-by-side with Mustafa Cagrici, the Mufti of Istanbul and Emrullah Hatipoglu, the Imam of the Blue Mosque. Try to avoid visiting the mosque during Friday noon prayers and Teravih prayers (evening prayers during Ramadan) which are more crowded than any other day and time.

    Blue Mosque Closer view Inside view Carpets on ground for praying Another inside view
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  • caffeine_induced78's Profile Photo

    What I wouldn't give

    by caffeine_induced78 Written Apr 10, 2004

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    They swarm looking for people like me.

    Foreigners. At places like the Sultanahmet they look for us because we have money to spend. I am pretty good at saying no - look them in the eye and say no, repeatedly.

    Still - it would have been nice to have another load of Japanese tourists walk by. They travel in packs, almost always (even in Denver), for protection - theirs and unintentially mine.

    Constructed between 1606 and 1616 by the architect, Mehmet Aga, to rival and surpass the nearby Aya Sofya. Dodge the hawkers and make your way to the entrance to the mosque. Take off your shoes and enter. Pictures are hard to get. The inside is so expansive that no single camera shot can truely convey the grandeur.

    Donations are welcome at the entrance and the exit - the same thing.

    The Sultanahment area is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

    towards the sky
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