Blue Mosque - Sultanahmet, Istanbul

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  • illumina's Profile Photo

    Sultanahmet Camii

    by illumina Written Apr 22, 2010

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    The Blue Mosque
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    The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, popularly known as the Blue Mosque, was built between 1609-1616, during the reign of Ahmed I. It faces the Hagia Sophia across the Hippodrome, and was constructed on the site of the Great Palace of Constantinople, the palace of the Byzantine Emperors. It is beautifully decorated inside with blue tiles from Iznik, hence the alternative name, and has six minarets, rather than the usual 1, 2, or 4. There is a story that when people realised that the mosque would have six minarets, the original number at Mecca, they criticised the Sultan for aspiring to make his mosque as important as the holiest place in the world to Muslims; the Sultan then had a 7th minaret built at Mecca - however this is apparently not true as the 7th minaret at Mecca was built 100 years before the Blue Mosque. Another story is that the architect misheard the Sultan's instructions for gold minarets, as the words for 'gold' and 'six' are very similar in Turkish.

    The Blue Mosque is a beautiful place to visit. Please remove your shoes, and it would be respectful of women to cover their heads within, although it seems that this is often ignored. People at the mosque are happy to give you leaflets on the history of Islam and to talk to you about it.

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  • stevemt's Profile Photo

    What a building

    by stevemt Written Apr 11, 2010

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    The Blue Mosque, (blue taken from the color of the tiling inside the Mosque) is a must see in Istanbul.

    Entry is free, but you need to remove your shoes of course, (I was provided with a plastic carry bag to carry them) to go in. The tiling and decoration is supurb, the atmosphere is tranquil, photography is allowed but please limit flash use.

    One word of caution, look out for the touts outside who want to take you to their carpet shop.

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  • MM212's Profile Photo

    Sultanahmet Camii

    by MM212 Updated Mar 8, 2010

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    Known as the Blue Mosque for the tens of thousands of blue Iznik tiles covering its interior, Sultanahmet Camii was built in 1609 on the orders of Sultan Ahmet I. For the job, he appointed the imperial architect Sedefhar Mehmet Ağa, a student of the famous architect Sinan, and chose the site of the ancient Byzantine palaces, directly across from the Hagia Sophia. Stones from the Byzantine palaces and hippodrome were used in the construction, while Iznik tiles and Venetian stained glass decorated the interior. The new mosque was to match and exceed the splendour of the Hagia Sophia and other imperial mosques in Constantinople, a feat that was certainly accomplished. This large scale project came at the beginning of the slow decline of the Ottoman Empire, and was in part planned to deflect the impact from Sultan Ahmet's losses in recent wars. Unlike previous imperial mosques funded by gains in wars, the Blue Mosque was financed by the Empire's treasury. This extravagance, coupled with the fact that it was the first mosque outside Mecca to have six minarets, angered the religious establishments of Constantinople, but to appease them, the Sultan constructed a seventh minaret at the Great Mosque of Mecca.

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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.

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  • Willettsworld's Profile Photo

    Interior

    by Willettsworld Written Mar 1, 2010

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    The interior of the mosque is lined with more than 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles, made at Iznik, in more than fifty different tulip designs. The tiles at lower levels are traditional in design, while at gallery level their design becomes flamboyant with representations of flowers, fruit and cypresses. The price to be paid for each tile was fixed by the sultan's decree, while tile prices in general increased over time. As a result, the quality of the tiles used in the building decreased gradually. Their colours have faded and changed (red turning into brown and green into blue, mottled whites) and the glazes have dulled. The tiles on the back balcony wall are recycled tiles from the harem in the Topkapi Palace, when it was damaged by fire in 1574.

    The most important element in the interior of the mosque is the mihrab, which is made of finely carved and sculptured marble, with a stalactite niche and a double inscriptive panel above it. To the right is the richly decorated minber, or pulpit, where the Imam stands when he is delivering his sermon at the time of noon prayer on Fridays or on holy days.

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  • Willettsworld's Profile Photo

    Minarets

    by Willettsworld Written Mar 1, 2010

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    One of the Blue Mosque's most redeeming features are its number of minarets - six instead of the more conventional four. It is one of only two mosques in Turkey that has six minarets, the other one is the Sabanci Mosque in Adana. When the number of minarets was revealed, the Sultan was criticized for being presumptuous, since this was, at the time, the same number as at the mosque of the Ka'aba in Mecca. He overcame this problem by ordering a seventh minaret to be built at the Mecca mosque.

    Four of the minarets stand at the corners of the mosque, each fluted and pencil-shaped with three balconies (serefe) and stalactite corbels, while the other two stand at the end of the forecourt and have only two balconies.

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  • Willettsworld's Profile Photo

    Blue Mosque

    by Willettsworld Written Mar 1, 2010

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    Officially known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque but more popularly known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior, this mosque is a major tourist attraction in Istanbul. Unlike the Hagia Sophia which was converted into a museum by Ataturk, the building is still used as a mosque today and so is used for prayer. Be aware of this as you will not be able to enter during this time.

    The mosque was built between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Sultan Ahmed I. Like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasah (school) and a hospice. After the Peace of Zsitvatorok and the unfavourable result of the wars with Persia, Sultan Ahmed I decided to build a large mosque in Istanbul to placate Allah. It was built on the site of the palace of the Byzantine emperors, facing the Hagia Sophia (at that time the most venerated mosque in Istanbul) and the hippodrome, a site of great symbolic significance. It incorporates some Byzantine elements of the neighbouring Hagia Sophia with traditional Islamic architecture and is considered to be the last great mosque of the classical period.

    The Blue Mosque is one of only two mosques in Turkey that has six minarets, the other one is the Sabanci Mosque in Adana. When the number of minarets was revealed, the Sultan was criticised for being presumptuous, since this was, at the time, the same number as at the mosque of the Ka'aba in Mecca. He overcame this problem by ordering a seventh minaret to be built at the Mecca mosque. The interior is lined with more than 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles, made at Iznik in more than fifty different tulip designs.

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  • MM212's Profile Photo

    Tomb of Sultan Ahmet I

    by MM212 Updated Feb 27, 2010

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    Details of interior decoration - Jan 2010
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    Modest relative to the grandeur of the Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque, this small domed mausoleum contains the tomb of Sultan Ahmet I himself. As was typical, the great Sultan chose to be buried close to his namesake mosque and placed his mausoleum just north of the mosque, within its outer grounds. Both structures were built together in the early 17th century, and as with the mosque, the mausoleum was adorned with beautiful blue Iznik tiles and Ottoman decorative motifs. Members of the Sultan's family were also buried within. Note that shoes have to be taken off before entering the mausoleum and women may have to cover their hair (?).

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  • Tom_Fields's Profile Photo

    Blue Mosque

    by Tom_Fields Updated Feb 13, 2010

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    The Blue Mosque
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    Sultan Ahmed I began the foundation of this great mosque, using his ceremonial dagger, in 1609 (that dagger can now be viewed at nearby Topkapi Palace). The mosque was completed about ten years later; unfortunately, the young Sultan didn't live to see it.

    This is Istanbul's most distinctive mosque. Its most unusual feature is its six minarets. No other mosque in Turkey has that many. It has no paintings or sculpture, but some stunningly beautiful calligraphy.

    If you go, remember that this is an active mosque, not a museum. Please dress conservatively, remove your shoes upon entering, and keep your voice low.

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  • iaint's Profile Photo

    Blue Mosque

    by iaint Updated Jan 30, 2010

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    as seen from hotel

    I'm not one for looking at religious buildings, so I was a reluctant visitor. BUT it was worth it, and I'm glad I went. Magnificent architecture.

    It's a bit over-run with tourists tho', which to my mind is inconsistent with the religious angle.

    Try to come back at night, to sit outside to take in the son et lumiere show (even more touristique).

    Our hotel was just round corner, so the call to prayer from the mosque bounced us out of bed at 5.30am (I think someone had been playing with PA controls).

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  • Durfun's Profile Photo

    Not Blue from outside, but INSIDE (Iznik tiles)!

    by Durfun Written Jan 8, 2010

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    At night.. all 6 minarets!
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    Takes it's name after Sultan Mehmet. The area is also named after him: Sultanahmet.

    The unique thing about it's design is that it has six minarets, constructed out of a misunderstanding on the architect's part! No other building was to eclipse the mosque in Saudi Arabia (with 6 minarets!), so how could this be rectified?? Well, the design is such that most of the time, you will not see all 6 minarets at the same time!! Only by standing in particular angles would you see all six! This way everyone was happy :)

    The interior is massive, with the huge dome supported an elephantine columns. There is an overwhelming sea of blue inside, hence the name. The decorative tiles are exquisite, with hints of pink as well (even the occasional green), so it's certainly not monochrome.

    The interior is truly beautiful, and delicately decorated.

    I thought this mosque is MASSIVE, only to be told that Sulemaniye (on the highest hill in Istanbul) is even larger! Imagine that!!

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  • mvtouring's Profile Photo

    Blue Mosque

    by mvtouring Updated Oct 9, 2009

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    The cascading domes and six slender minarets of the Sultanahmet Mosque (better known as the "Blue Mosque") dominate the skyline of Istanbul. A visit to the Blue Mosque is an almost must when visiting this city. This six-minareted , multi dome structural wonder does not take its name from the outside, but rather from the inside. Once inside you will see the lovely blue Iznik tiles. This place is huge.
    This is a working religious facility, so please be courteous and don't visit during prayer times. Dress appropriately, ladies your heads have to be covered and no shorts allowed or tank tops! Open Tuesdays to Saturdays.
    In the 17th century, Sultan Ahmet I wished to build an Islamic place of worship to rival the Hagia Sophia, and the mosque named for him is the impressive result. The two great architectural achievements stand next to each other in Istanbul's main square.
    Construction on the mosque began in 1609 and took seven years. Sultan Ahmet died only a year after the completion of his masterpiece, at the age of 27. He is buried just outside the mosque with his wife and three sons.
    One of the most notable features of the Blue Mosque is visible from far away: its six minarets. This is very unique, as most mosques have four, two or just one minaret. According to one account, the Sultan directed his architect to make gold (altin) minarets, which was misunderstood as six (alti) minarets.
    Whatever the origins of the unique feature, the six minarets caused quite a scandal, as the Haram Mosque in Mecca (the holiest in the world) also had six minarets. In the end, the problem was solved by adding a seventh minaret to Mecca's mosque.
    The interior's high ceiling is lined with about 20,000 blue tiles that give the mosque its popular name. Fine examples of 16th-century Iznik design, the tiles feature flowers, trees and abstract patterns. The overall effect is one of the most beautiful sights in Istanbul.

    Tips for Visiting
    Tourists must enter through the north gate and remove their shoes at the entrance (plastic bags for shoes are provided). Modest dress is required for both men and women and women must cover their heads. Wraps are provided when deemed necessary by mosque officials.

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  • Sultanahmet mosque

    by STARS_731 Written Oct 7, 2009

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    this mosque is:

    a symbol of Turkey
    a symbol of Istanbul
    a symbol of the Ottoman architecture and its empire
    a symbol of islam
    a symbol of the former Constantinople
    a symbol of pwer and history

    it is really amazing, the most beatiful mosque of Istanbul and turkey... and one of the most beatiful in the world

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  • TheLongTone's Profile Photo

    Blue is the colour

    by TheLongTone Updated Sep 26, 2009

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    The Sultan Ahmet, or Blue Mosque- so-called because of its interior cladding of blue and white tiles - is one of those 'if-you're-there-you-do that' things. And as is often the case, I thought it rather failed to justify this status. Certainly it's setting is splendid, sitting on the end of the promontery of the Old City and dominating the skyline as seen from the Sea of Marmara. And it does contain a lot of blue and white tiles: and certainly the luminous glory of the quibla wall, with its tiers of stained glass windows, is breathtaking. But I found the space itself unsatisfactory, lacking that sense of harmony that I particularly associate with Islamic architecture. It's those vast pillars, which can only really be described as clumsy. And it's being almost solidly packed with tourists didn't help, either.There are several other mosques whose overall architectural impact is far greater.

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  • alectrevor's Profile Photo

    Istanbul"s most photogenic building

    by alectrevor Updated May 29, 2009

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    Blue Mosque
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    Plenty is written elseware in guide books and VT about the blue mosque my tip is DO NOT MISSShoes must be removed, a plastic bags is provided for you to carry them. Entry to the Mosque is free, donations appreciated. A marvellous place. Closed during prayer times.

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