The Blue Mosque, the magnificent centrepiece among Ottoman architectural marvels, is a living testament to centuries-old Islamic architectural traditions. A breathtaking feature of the Istanbul skyline, this seventeenth-century mosque was commissioned by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmet I and is thus, also known as the Sultanahmet Mosque.
Constructed to rival and even surpass the legendary Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque brings to life the syncretic history of the Turkish capital. Sultanahmet Mosque is an unmatched amalgamation of traditional Ottoman Islamic art, architecture and ancient Byzantine traditions inspired by the Hagia Sophia. Designed by Ottoman architect Mehmet Aga, the structure was the last great mosque of the classical period.
The most renowned features of the Blue Mosque are its six minarets and blue interiors. It had been the first mosque to have six minarets after the Ka’aba in Mecca, and after criticism for apparent disrespect, the Sultan had added a seventh minaret at Ka’aba. The blue interiors, which give the mosque its name, come from the more than 20,000 handcrafted blue Iznik tiles that adorn the walls of the iconic mosque.
Blue Mosque Istanbul architecture is a beautiful combination of the medieval styles of the Ottomans and the ancient architecture of the Byzantine era. The pinnacle of Ottoman Mosque development, the Sultanahmet Mosque synthesises Byzantine elements inspired by its ancient peer Hagia Sophia with conventional Islamic architecture. Created by Mehmet Aga on the orders of Sultan Ahmet I, the Blue Mosque is widely renowned as the last great mosque of the classical period.
The interiors of the Blue Mosque are adorned with more than 20,000 handcrafted blue Iznik ceramic tiles that sport more than fifty different tulip patterns. The lower-level tiles have traditional Ottoman designs, while the gallery-level ones have flowers, fruits, and cypresses embellished on them. More than 200 stained glass windows with elaborate patterns and huge chandeliers light up the interiors.
The decorations also include calligraphic verses from the Holy Quran. The mihrab is constructed of finely carved and sculptured marble, and the minbar is also richly decorated. The royal hunkar mahfil has ten marble columns and its own embellished mihrab. The lamps inside the mosque were once adorned with gold and gems, which are now removed.
The façade of the Blue Mosque’s forecourt was inspired by the Suleymaniye Mosque, and the turrets on the corner domes were an addition. The court, as vast as the mosque, is surrounded by a continuous vaulted arcade and has ablution facilities on both ends. The courtyard’s colossal gateway has a semi dome made of stalactite like structure and a small ribbed dome on a tall tholobate. The western court entrance has a heavy iron chain hanging from its upper portion, which was installed so that the Sultan lowered his head as a mark of humility while entering the mosque.
The Blue Mosque was the first mosque after the Ka’aba of Mecca to have six minarets. The decision was heavily criticised by contemporary Muslims, which prompted Sultan Ahmet I to order the construction of a seventh minaret at Ka’aba. Four of the six minarets stand at the four corners of the Sultanahmet Mosque. The fluted, pencil-shaped minarets have three serefe (balconies) with corbels of stalactite. The remaining two minarets stand at the end of the forecourt and have only two serefe. While the muezzin, who called for prayers, had to climb narrow staircases five times a day during the Ottoman era, a public announcement is now used.
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What is special about the design of the interior of the Blue Mosque?
The interior architecture of Blue Mosque is remarkable for its use of 20,000 handcrafted blue Iznik tiles that are embellished with 50 varying traditional Ottoman motifs. The all-encompassing blue of the interiors is what gives the mosque its famous name. Another special feature is the more than 200 stained glass windows let sunlight into the interiors and create a fascinating aura within the mosque.
What decorations does the Blue Mosque in Istanbul have?
The interiors of the Blue Mosque are decorated with huge chandeliers adorned with gold and precious stones and stunning calligraphic inscriptions of verses from the Holy Quran. The blue Iznik tiles at the lower levels have traditional Ottoman designs, while the tiles at the upper levels are adorned with representations of flowers, fruits, and cypresses. Another breathtaking feature is the stained-glass windows adorned with intricate designs that let sunlight into the mosque.
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What does the Blue Mosque symbolise?
The Blue Mosque is a living testament to the wealth of the mighty Ottomans and presents the medieval Ottoman Empire as the rightful successors and inheritors of the ancient Byzantine and Roman imperial traditions. It is also among the most iconic symbols of Islamic calligraphy and art.
What are the main features of the Blue Mosque?
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What style of architecture is the Blue Mosque?
Blue Mosque Istanbul architecture is an unmatched amalgamation of traditional Ottoman and Byzantine architectural styles. The Ottoman designs incorporate features inspired by the Byzantine-era Hagia Sophia, and the structure is adorned with conventional Islamic art.
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How long does it take to visit the Blue Mosque?
It takes approximately 30-45 minutes to explore the stunning architecture of Blue Mosque.
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