The mosque, located near the Topkapi Palace and also known as the Sultanahmet Camii Mosque, after the sultan who initiated it and was buried in it, was deliberately built in front of the church of Hagia Sophia. In so doing, it was intended to lead to the recognition of the superiority of Islamic construction over Christian construction. What do you think? Did he succeed?
Either way, construction proceeded quickly. During which the Sultan personally and closely followed the progress of the works. His fear led to high meticulousness, artistic, and engineering quality. The Sultan did not spare any money and resources for this flagship project, which enabled the builders to bring in the best experts, technologies of the period and the necessary materials. This can be seen, for example, in the stones from the holy Kaaba in Mecca, which were placed in the Mekhareb. This is the Muslim prayer niche, which faces towards the city of Mecca.
In just 7 years, the huge mosque was completed and inaugurated in 1616. The wonderful result is indeed one of the most beautiful Islamic structures in the world. Even those who do not connect with Muslim architecture and mosques will benefit from this special light and the wonderful structure.
Even if it has not managed to overshadow the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque manages to compete pretty well with its beauty and majesty. The Sultan loved it very much and every Friday he would march to the building, a ceremonial and solemn march. Even in the 20th century, when the royal court moved from the nearby Topkapi Palace, it retained its prestigious status. From each of his balconies, at least 16 muezzins used to read simultaneously to the faithful.
The mosque received the nickname Blue Mosque from the 20,000 blue tiles that decorate its walls, and were brought here from the Turkish city of Iznik.
When it was inaugurated, this mosque aroused the anger of Muslim clerics. They were furious at the Sultan Ahmet's attempts to build a mosque that would resemble and even compare to that of the holy city of Mecca. The Sultan, who understood that the entanglement with religion was a danger to his rule, gave in to them. He agreed to finance something that would symbolize the advantages of the city of Mecca over Istanbul. As a fair compromise, he paid a lot of money to finance the construction of a seventh minaret to be built at the Kaaba mosque in Mecca. This seventh tower demonstrated the superiority of that mosque, over the Blue Mosque, the mosque with only 6 minarets.
Along the magnificent walls of the mosque, which is covered with blue tiles, you will see the 260 stained-glass windows. These windows create a blue light that brings a mystical, almost holy, atmosphere to the mosque. This light, which falls on the 20,000 blue tiles, is a masterpiece of meticulous and smart architectural design.
Inside the impressive and decorated building, there are thousands of hand-decorated tiles, with more than 200 stained-glass windows, and next to them are calligraphy and stylized oil lamps that were used to illuminate the mosque before the invention of the electric bulb.
Next to the mosque you will see a fountain given to Sultan Abd al-Hamid II by the German Kaiser Wilhelm II. Nearby is the Sultan Ahmet Square.
Exit the Blue Mosque through the gate from the courtyard and you will reach a large square. You are in the Hippodrome of the 3rd century AD. It is a horse racing track and chariot, established by Emperor Septimus Severus. It contains 100,000 seats and serves as a multi-participant race in the Roman and Byzantine empires.
In fact this city, Iznik, was the capital of the empire of Nicaea in Asia Minor, but the Ottoman occupiers in 1331 changed its name to Iznik. When the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, the city diminished in importance, however over the years, Iznik became known as the center of the ceramics and tile industry.
The tiles and ceramic tools made their name all over the world. At that time they used them in luxury buildings throughout the Ottoman Empire, including the tomb of King David on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.
According to Turkish tradition, it is said that due to the enormous amount of tiles required for the construction of the Blue Mosque, Iznik's traditional potters were appalled. The city's artistic potters did not dare to defy the Sultan's demand for tens of thousands of tiles for the mosque he desired. The amount required for the Blue Mosque was unprecedented, but they were up to the task. The Sultan's terror worked, and they worked on these tiles until they were completely exhausted, but when the work on the tiles was finished, they could not return and restore Iznik's great ceramics to its best days. Over the years that followed, the Turks say, this industry has reduced in the city.
Modest dress is required here, no short clothes, women will need to cover their heads (either bring your own, or bury one at the entrance).
Men need to take off their shoes outside.
The mosque is closed to visitors during prayers.