The Blue Mosque of Istanbul, the temple which competed with Mecca
The Blue Mosque (“Sultanahmet Camii”, in Turkish) is the most famous Mosque in Istanbul and the one which welcomes the most tourists. Situated in Sultanahmet square and separated from St. Sofia church by gardened area which all visitors to Istanbul cross at some time during their stay in the city.
The Blue Mosque was built between 1609 and 1617, during the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I, towards the end of the golden age of the Ottoman Empire. Its architect was Sedefkar Mehmet Aga, who caused great consternation amongst the people of the empire because the Blue Mosque design of six minarets rivaled those of the Sacred Mosque of Mecca. To solve the problem, the Sultan ordered a seventh minaret be constructed in Mecca. To this day, the Blue Mosque remains the only mosque in Istanbul with six minarets.
The Blue Mosque is a majestic and impressive building which stands out on the horizon as a result of the magnificent cascading blue domes. The interior of the mosque is covered with more than 20,000 handmade tiles which reflect the light which streams in through the window giving everything a blue hue hence the name of the building.
When visiting the Blue Mosque there are a few things to take into consideration, it is a place of worship therefore we need to consider the clothes we wear inside. Shorts and clothing which shows your shoulders and back must not be worn. Respecting Islamic tradition shoes must be removed before entering the mosque and women should cover their hair with a scarf. If you didn’t bring anything to cover yourself with, the Blue Mosque provides adequate clothing but it is always advisable to come prepared.
Visiting the Blue Mosque Useful Information
- Where: Sultan Ahmet Mh., Torun Sokak 19. Istanbul
- Getting There: Tram Line T1, Sultanahmet stop.
- When: 9am-9pm. The mosque is closed to tourists during prayer times which occur five times daily. We recommend visiting early in the morning.
- Price: Admission to the Blue Mosque is free.