A real eye-catcher with the beautifully-arranged cascade of domes
Customized Istanbul tour like to present you the Blue Mosque. It is one of the most prominent historical and cultural landmarks of Istanbul. It was built near the Hagia Sophia, over the site of the ancient Hippodrome. Sultan Ahmed I wanted to build a monument that would rival and even surpass another one of the spectacular sights of Istanbul, in grandeur and beauty – the nearby Aya Sofia.
The Blue Mosque, officially known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque or Sultan Ahmet Camii is, without a doubt, one of the architectural marvels of the world. It gets its unofficial name from the 20,000 Iznik blue tiles that line its interior.
When Sultan Ahmed I was only 19. He wished to build an Islamic place of worship that would be even better than the Hagia Sophia. The Sultan was so enthusiastic about his grand project that he is said to have worked with the labourers and craftsmen on site, pushing them along and rewarding extra effort. Construction work began in 1609 and took seven years. To this day, the Blue Mosque remains one of the finest examples of classical Ottoman architecture. Sultan Ahmed’s magnificent creation was completed in 1616. Sadly, he died just a year after the completion of his masterpiece, at the age of 27. He is buried outside the mosque – a turbe, or mausoleum, stands at the corner of the grounds near the Hippodrome and Sultanahmet Park, and houses the remains of the Sultan Ahmed I, his wife, Kosem, and three of his sons.
Customized Istanbul tour – Finally choosing Mehmet Aga
The Sultan had one unfortunate architect executed before finally choosing Mehmet Aga to design the mosque. The original mosque complex included public-service institutions: a medrese (theological college); a soup kitchen (imaret ) serving the poor; a primary school; a hospital; a hamam so that the faithful could bathe on Friday, the holy day; and shops, the rent from which supported the upkeep of the mosque, the tomb of the founder. It also contains some fine examples of calligraphy on cobalt blue Iznik tile. Most of these buildings were torn down in the 19th century.
See one of the most notable features of the Blue Mosque on customized Istanbul tour: its six minarets. This is very unique, as most mosques have four, two, or just one minaret. There are several legends associated with the construction of the six minarets. One says that the sultan’s desire for gold minarets – altin in Turkish – was understood as alti, or six. Whatever the reasoning, the construction challenged the preeminence of the mosque in Mecca, which at the time also had six minarets. The ensuing scandal, both in and out of Istanbul, resulted in the sultan’s ordering the construction of a seventh minaret at the Kaa’ba.
Blue Mosque is conceived on a similarly grand scale
The interior of the Blue Mosque is conceived on a similarly grand scale; it is lit with 260 windows, which were once filled with 17th-century stained glass. Unfortunately, this has been lost and replaced with inferior replicas. However, the stained-glass windows, the huge central space for praying and Iznik tiles, that feature flowers, trees and abstract patterns, immediately attract attention. So many of these tiles were needed that the Iznik workshops producing the finest examples could not keep up with demand, and alternative, less skilled, workshops were called in to fill the gap. The mosque’s tiles are thus of varying quality.
The eye-catching cascade of domes and semi domes is painted in graceful arabesques. The arcades running beneath each dome add further visual rhythm. The overall effect is one of such great harmony, grace, and power that it’s impossible to walk away from this building unaffected.
Istanbul is a treasure of interesting places, but if you’re interested in architecture, beauty, or impressive workmanship, you should visit the Blue Mosque, built near the Hagia Sophia, over the site of the ancient Hippodrome and dominating the skyline of Istanbul.
On your customized Istanbul tour the Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmed Mosque, or Sultan Ahmet Camii, will stand out in your memory, even after seeing many churches.