The famous Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey is actually called the Sultan Ahmed Mosque and is one of Istanbul's most popular sights. Its six slender minarets, which are visible from afar, are unique in the world.
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Turkey's famous metropolis, better known as the "Blue Mosque", is one of the city's most visited attractions, Turkey's top 10 sights and is considered a landmark of Istanbul.
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PICTURES: Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque) in Istanbul
Uniqueness of the Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque is located in the Sultanahmet district on the square of the same name near the Hippodrome of ancient Byzantium and opposite the no less famous Hagia Sophia. It is already easily recognisable from a distance thanks to its sea of domes and its six towering minarets, which are unique in the world.
Also almost unique worldwide is the fact that this Muslim house of worship was entered by the highest representative of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI visited the "Blue Mosque" in November 2006 and, together with the Muslim clergy, urged peace and respect between the religions. Pope Francis was also a guest at the Blue Mosque in November 2014.
Construction of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque was built by a pupil of the important Ottoman architect Sinan at the beginning of the 17th century by order of Sultan Ahmed Camii I. It received its nickname "Blue Mosque" from the more than 21,000 white-blue tiles with which the domes and façade are decorated.
Why does the Blue Mosque have six minarets?
Allegedly, the Sultan demanded that the master builder gild the minarets of the mosque. However, as this would have exceeded his budget, the architect later stated that instead of gold ("altun") he had understood six ("alti"). The construction of two more minarets than "normal" was initially heavily criticised as presumptuous compared to Mecca (there, the al-Haram mosque has nine minarets).
In the meantime, however, the majestic appearance has become a natural part of the cityscape. In order to be able to hold the enormous dome with a diameter of over 20m and a height of 40m, enormous 5m-wide supporting pillars were installed.
Visit to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul
The main dome is a breathtaking architectural masterpiece, both from the outside and the inside. From the inside, it is once again set off by the 260 stained glass windows that mystically refract the sun's rays.
The monumental building impresses not only with its size, but also with the white marble furnishings and the delicacy of the decorations and arabesques within its walls.
Admission to the Blue Mosque is free of charge. As in any mosque, shoes must be removed beforehand and placed in plastic bags, which are available at the entrance. Visitors must also be dressed appropriately to enter a mosque. This means that shoulders and knees, and for women also the hair, must be covered. Ladies who do not have a scarf ready for this can borrow one at the entrance.
Other sights around the Blue Mosque
Also on the grounds is the Ruler's Pavilion, which was once used as a storage place for carpets and now functions as a carpet museum. Surrounding the "Blue Mosque" is a magnificent park and a forecourt the size of the prayer hall. On it also stands the hexagonal fountain, which used to be used for purification rites but is now only ornamental.
As awe-inspiring as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque appears by day, it literally appears in a different light after dark - countless spotlights transform the "Blue Mosque" into a fairytale castle from 1001 Nights after sunset.