The Blue Mosque (SULTAN AHMET CAMII) is probably Istanbul's most famous landmark and it is the only mosque in Turkey with six minarets. It is located just in the heart of old town and faces the Hagia Sophia Museum (Ayasofya Muzesi). The Blue Mosque was built by Sultan Ahmet the 1st, between 1609-1616 in Sultanahmet Square.
WHY THEY CALL THE BLUE MOSQUE? The Blue Mosque is not blue on the outside, it is grey. It gets its name from the ceiling inside, because of it's hand painted Iznik tiles that were used during it's construction.
This magnificent mosque is the largest mosque in Istanbul and created by architect Sedefkar Mehmet Aga. Like many other mosques, the building is roughly two squares side by side. The first square is an open courtyard surrounded by a colonnade, and the second is the mosque building itself, covered in domes.
The ceiling of the dome is painted with Arabic patterns. The interior consists of open spaces and very impressive columns.
Fine IZNIK tile work line the lower walls, the doors and windows and the carved stone of the mihrab and mimber. The city of IZNIK (formerly known as NICEA) is still very famous for it's tile work and is another historical city which is located 65mi(100km) east of Istanbul, near Lake Iznik, south of IZMIT. Iznik originally was an important Roman and Byzantine town, it fell to the Seljuks in 1078 and subsequently to the Ottomans in 1331.
Exterior light pours from the 260 stained-glass windows and from the dome; 141ft high which is supported by 4 enormous circular pillars.
The mosque's dimensions are 64 mt X 72 mt (213 ft X 239 ft). The massive scale of this Mosque is best appreciated from a distance.
So, this entire area is filled with rich history ! Only one day is NOT enough to see all !
Plus, during tourist season long entry lines appears in everywhere. Do not listen your guide or travel agency. We highly recommend you spending at least 3 days in this particular area.
You also should take particular note of the surrounding wooden houses located in the neighborhood, particularly the 18th century homes on Sogukcesme Street. Some of those old houses have been converted to hotels now.
This website has been updated with photographs by Dick Osseman. For more of his pictures, see his website at: www.pbase.com/dosseman
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In November 2006, during his three day visit to Turkey, Pope Benedict XVI visited the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii).
Pope Benedict XVI became the second pontiff to pray silently in a gesture of reconciliation to the Muslim (Moslem) world. The late John Paul II had visited a Mosque in Damascus, during a trip to Syria.
Pope Benedict XVI toured the Blue Mosque accompanied by Mr.Ali Bardakoglu, the Minister of Religions Affairs. The Grand Muftu of Istanbul, Mr. Mustafa Cagri explained to him the Mosque's history and architecture.
"I AM LEAVING HALF OF MY HEART IN ISTANBUL" Benedict XVI said, after releasing white doves into the air in the garden of St.Esprit Cathedral, located in Harbiye distric, on his last day in Turkey...
Sultanahmet Mosque is Istanbul's most respected and busiest Mosque !
We suggest not visiting to this and any of Mosque during 'Friday noon prayers' (Cuma namazi), the 5 daily prayer times and during public funerals because Mosques are closed to tourists during these times.
Watch the sign displayed outside, which will tell you when you can go in as a tourist. Also remember that, everyone must remove their shoes upon entering a Mosque.
During the tourist season there are light and sound shows in the evenings. Ask about this to your travel agency or hotel.