- History of the Blue Mosque
- The architecture of the Blue Mosque
- The exterior of Sultan Ahmed Mosque
- Interior of the Blue Mosque
- Why is the Blue Mosque Famous?
- When is the Best Time to Visit the Blue Mosque?
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque popularly known as the blue mosque is located in Istanbul, Turkey. The mosque is often referred to as the “blue mosque” because of the unique blue tiles and interior decoration that intensifies the beauty of the internal design of the mosque. This very beautiful and unique mosque is one of the most visited places in Western Asia, even though it is an Islamic place of worship, it is often flooded by both Islamic and none Islamic tourists from all over the world. In this article, we shall be talking about all the things you need to know about this wonderful place, starting from its history, its amazing architecture and lots more.
History of the Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque was built by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I between the years 1609 to 1616. At this time, it was a common practice for sultans to build mosques to show their appreciation to God and also and name it after themselves. This was what sultan Ahmed the first also had in mind when he decided to build a mosque of the utmost beauty and significance. To complete the mosque, the sultan employed the services of Sedefkar Mehemet Aga who was one of the greatest architects that were alive at that time. The emperor chose the Ayse Sultan Palace as the perfect place for the magnificent mosque to be built because that particular location overlooked the sea and the surroundings was not too crowded. The construction of the wonderful mosque took a total of 7 years, 5 months and some days. After the total construction, the building was opened to a fascinating ceremony on Friday, June 12, 1616. The mosque has served as a major place of worship and tourism ever since.
The architecture of the Blue Mosque
Even though the mosque cannot be categorized as a contemporary structure, its structure and architecture is one that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The design of the Blue Mosque is the cumulation of up to two centuries of Ottoman mosque development & architecture; it also incorporates some Byzantine elements of the neighboring Hagia Sophia, while borrowing from traditional Islamic designs. The mosque is often considered as the last great mosque of the classical period. Sedefkar Mehemet, who designed the mosque tried to reproduce the architectural ideas of his master Sinan by designing the mosque to be of overwhelming in size, majesty and splendor. Below is some information on the interior and exterior of this unique mosque.
The exterior of Sultan Ahmed Mosque
The façade of the forecourt was designed in the same way the forecourt of the famous Suleymaniye Mosque which was designed by the great architect Mimar Sinan who was Sedefkar’s teacher. It is decorated with rectangular zink tile window lunettes with and addition of turrets on the corner domes. The court is almost as large as the mosque itself and it is surrounded by continuous Vaulted arcade. There is a hexagonal mesmerizing fountain in the middle of the courtyard. A large but narrow passageway that leads to the courtyard enjoys a unique architecture from that of the arcade; it has a semi-dome fine structure that is crowned by a small ribbed dome on a tall the lobate, making it even more beautiful and fascinating. There is a heavy chain that hangs in the upper part of the court on the western entrance, the purpose of the chains was to stop anyone from coming into the mosque on horseback (strictly sultans only) to bow his head. This is simply to illustrate humility.
Another important exterior structure element of this mosque is the Minarets. The Minarets are the tall narrow towering constructs that can be found around the mosque, traditionally, it is where Muezzins call the faithful to pray five times a day, but they have since been replaced by speakers instead of Muezzinein. The sultan wanted the mosque to be really unique and grand, thus he requested six minarets which were not so common at that time.
Interior of the Blue Mosque
Once you step into the interior of the mosque, one can easily see where the blue mosque gets its name from. The interior of the mosque is decorated with up to 20,000 handmade brilliant ceramic blue tiles made at izink in more than fifty different tulip designs. The lower tiles hold simple traditional designs while the upper tiles hold more flamboyant representations of nature such as beautiful flowers fruits, birds and more.
At the upper level of the interior, there are up to 200 stained glass windows with amazing decorations to support natural light. Also, on the chandeliers, there are ostrich eggs that are believed to help repel spiders and prevent cobwebs in the mosque.
Finally, the most important part of the mosque interior is the Mihrab that is made from finely carved and sculptured marble, with a stalactite niche and the double inscriptive panel above it is surrounded by many windows and the adjacent walls are sheathed with tiles, thus creating very beautiful and perfect scenery.
Why is the Blue Mosque Famous?
Although there are a lot of reasons for the fame of the Blue Mosque, the major reason for the fame of this mosque is its unique structures and beautiful designs that the mosque has. The six Minarets, the unique interior blue designs, and the amazing chandeliers are some of the few fascinating things that contribute to its fame.
Is the blue Mosque the Same as the Hageh Sophia?
The blue mosque is not the same as the Hageh Sophia. Although both are very popular and are considered as national treasures, the blue mosque is a beautiful and unique mosque that is still being used as a mosque even till today, while the Hageh Sophia, on the other hand, is a treasure from the Ottoman and Byzantine empire. It once served as a church, later on, a mosque and finally a museum.
When is the Best Time to Visit the Blue Mosque?
If you are planning to visit the blue mosque, then here are some things you should know about the best time for you to visit this wonderful place.
First of all, you should know the mosque still serves as areligious site, so unless you are visiting for a religious purpose, do not visit on religious days or at days close to any major Islamic festival. Also, the mosque is always full on Fridays, so you might as well pick another day to make your visit.
Finally, the mosque is always closed five times a day when the worshipers say their daily prayers, so be prepared for a little delay, although it doesn’t take more than 30 minutes per time.