The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Mosque)

Sultan Ahmed mosque in Istanbul
The Sultan Ahmed mosque in Istanbul

The Blue Mosque, also known by its official name, the Sultan Ahmet Camii/Mosque is one of the best known wonders of Ottoman  architecture. This majestic mosque was constructed by Sultan Ahmed I between 1609 and 1616 CE after losing the war with Persia. It was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1985.

  • This mosque is widely known as the ‘Blue Mosque’ due to its spectacular decoration made up of 20,000 hand-painted Iznik style glazed ceramics. There are more than 50 different patterns in blue, turquoise and green hues.  
  • The architect for the Blue Mosque was Sedefekar Mehmet Agha. He also followed in the footsteps of master Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan and wanted to create a spectacular and majestic form of architecture. 
  • The Blue Mosque was designed as a mark of imperial show of strength, with part of it being built over a Byzantine Palace. The mosque directly faces the Hagia Sophia which at the time was the primary imperial mosque.
Mehrab and mimbar of the Blue Mosque
Mehrab and mimbar of the Blue Mosque
  • According to folklore, the Sultan asked for “altin minareler” (golden minarets) but the architect wrongly heard “alti minare” (six minarets). So the mosque was built with six minarets just like the mosque of the Ka’bah in Makkah which had six minarets at the time. But later a seventh minaret was added due to the controversy the number of minarets caused.
  • Only the Sultan was allowed to enter the court from the entrance on the western side on horseback and a heavy iron chain hung in the upper part of this entrance. In order for the Sultan to enter, he would have to lower his head every time he entered the court. This was a symbolic gesture , to ensure the humility of the ruler in front of his supreme creator Allah.
  • The Blue Mosque can accommodate 10,000 worshippers. In November 2006 Pope Benedict XVI visited the Blue Mosque on 30 November 2006 during his visit to Turkey. It was only the second papal visit in history to a Muslim place of worship.
  • Video by Hikma History showing an overview of the history of the mosque:

Reference: Hikma History, Wikipedia

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