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9 interesting facts about the Blue Mosque in Istanbul

Blue Mosque | A world-renowned architectural marvel

The Blue Mosque, with its intricate Ottoman design and blue tiles, captivates visitors throughout the year. Built in the 17th century, its six minarets and ornamental facade symbolize Ottoman splendor. When visiting the mosque, immerse yourself in the serene atmosphere and foster a deeper understanding of the history and cultural relevance of the Blue Mosque.

Interesting facts about the Blue Mosque

Interesting facts about the Blue Mosque

Named after Sultan Ahmed I

The Blue Mosque is not the official name of the iconic landmark. It is originally called the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, named after Ahmed I, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1603 to 1617. He commissioned its construction in 1609, thus the name Sultan Ahmed Mosque. His tomb is situated on the northern side of the mosque facing Sultanahmet Park.

Interesting facts about the Blue Mosque

Built to outshine another architectural marvel

Sultan Ahmed’s goal was to surpass the grandeur of the Hagia Sophia, leading to the mosque's impressive scale and intricate details. He wanted to showcase his piety, mirroring his Ottoman ancestors. He actively participated in and oversaw the mosque's construction, even working as a laborer on its first day. It is believed that the construction cost exceeded 180 million akçes.

Interesting facts about the Blue Mosque

Construction involved a controversial decision

At just 19 years old, Sultan Ahmed I started building the mosque, sparking criticism from Ottoman scholars and the public. Unlike previous sultans who used war spoils for mosques, Sultan Ahmed used treasury funds due to military setbacks against the Habsburg Monarchy and Persia. Construction began in 1609 on the former Byzantine palace site, symbolically facing Hagia Sophia and the Hippodrome.

Interesting facts about the Blue Mosque

Blue Iznik tiles gave it its iconic name

The mosque boasts around 20,000, turquoise-colored, handmade Iznik tiles along with blue-painted upper levels, creating a mesmerizing interior. The word ‘Iznik’ comes from a popular area during Ottoman rule. Due to the tiles being predominantly blue, the mosque was nicknamed the ‘Blue Mosque’. These tiles showcase intricate floral patterns like tulip designs, cypress trees, roses, and fruits, evoking images of a lush paradise.

Interesting facts about the Blue Mosque

Constructed in a historic location

The mosque stands on the remains of the Great Palace of Constantinople, situated in what is now Sultanahmet Square. Originally called the Hippodrome, it was a vast stadium for chariot races. Some monuments from this historic site still stand on the square. The mosque neighbors the Hagia Sophia, creating an iconic skyline that symbolizes the blending of Byzantine and Ottoman architectural styles.

Interesting facts about the Blue Mosque

A standing testament to Ottoman architecture

The Blue Mosque, with its iconic six minarets, showcases classic Ottoman architecture in Istanbul. Inside, 20,000 Iznik tiles line the high ceiling, featuring intricate floral patterns. The interior is lit by 260 windows, once adorned with 17th-century stained glass, now replaced with replicas. It also boasts a large dome and eight smaller ones, creating a visually stunning place of worship.

Interesting facts about the Blue Mosque

The unique story of the minarets

During the Ottoman rule, most mosques featured one, two, or four minarets. The Blue Mosque’s six minarets, therefore, stirred concern, especially because the Grand Mosque in Mecca was the only one to boast the same number. It is also believed that the Sultan initially wanted golden minarets, but due to budget constraints, architect Sedefkâr Mehmed Ağa built six regular ones, claiming hearing problems.

Interesting facts about the Blue Mosque

Not just a mosque

The Sultan Ahmet Mosque was more than just a place of worship; it was a complex with various social purposes. Alongside its religious function, it housed a madrasah, hospital, imaret (soup kitchen), primary school, market, and a tomb for the royal family. A room called 'Muvakkithane' was reserved for astronomers to make calculations for prayer times. Unfortunately, many of these buildings were dismantled in the 19th century.

Interesting facts about the Blue Mosque

A historic site under UNESCO

In 1985, UNESCO added Istanbul's Historical Areas to its World Heritage List. Located on a peninsula surrounded by the Sea of Marmara, Bosphorus, and Golden Horn, these areas boast masterpieces like the Blue Mosque and Topkapı Palace. These landmarks are recognized for their historical significance, contributing to Istanbul's rich cultural heritage.




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Frequently asked questions about the Blue Mosque in Istanbul

What is the Blue Mosque known for?

The Blue Mosque is renowned for its stunning blue tiles, six minarets, and intricate decorative elements. It is a standing testament to the grandeur of Ottoman architecture, making it a must-visit attraction in Istanbul.

When was the Blue Mosque built?

The construction of the Blue Mosque began in 1609 under the supervision of Sultan Ahmed I, and it was completed in 1616.

What is the architectural style of the Blue Mosque?

The Blue Mosque showcases classic Ottoman architecture, characterized by its large central dome, minarets, and intricate tilework.

What is the significance of the Blue Mosque?

The Blue Mosque holds historical significance as a major religious site in Istanbul. Its iconic minarets and grand dome reflect the grandeur of the Ottoman Empire. It was constructed in 1609 under the supervision of Sultan Ahmed I.

Why is the Sultanahmet Mosque called the Blue Mosque?

The Sultanahmet Mosque is called the Blue Mosque due to the iconic, 20,000 handmade blue tiles adorning its interior. The upper levels are also painted blue to complement the tile decor.

Are there any dress code requirements to visit the Blue Mosque?

You must wear clothing that covers your knees and shoulders when visiting the Blue Mosque. Avoid wearing shorts. Women must also cover their hair with a headscarf. You can get scarves at the entrance if you do not have any.

Is photography allowed inside the Blue Mosque?

Photography is allowed in the courtyard but restricted inside the mosque during prayer times to maintain its sanctity. If you are clicking pictures inside the mosque, make sure not to obstruct or disturb anyone who’s praying.

Is the Blue Mosque still an active place of worship?

Yes, the Blue Mosque is still active, accommodating worshippers during regular prayer times and special religious occasions.