The Blue Mosque was the ambitious creation of a young sultan and would become one of Istanbul’s most iconic sites. Begun in 1606, the Blue Mosque is actually called the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii) after the ruler who commissioned it, Sultan Ahmet I.
Then not yet twenty years of age, Ahmet I was determined to build a mosque to rival the Hagia Sofia. He heavily involved himself in the construction of the Blue Mosque, to the extent that he actually executed the first architect on the job and is even said to have participated in the build itself.
When it was finally completed in 1616, the Blue Mosque was indeed a worthy neighbour of the Hagia Sofia. With its hierarchy of increasingly large domes, this vast complex helped define the city’s skyline and, with its six minarets, it caused an immediate stir - not least because the only other mosque with this number at the time was the Kaaba in Mecca.
The interior of the Blue Mosque is just as grand and ornate. Furthermore, a journey into the interior of the Blue Mosque reveals the reason behind its alternate name - the swathes of blue tiles which adorn its walls.
Ahmet I would live to see his grand design come to be, but only just. He died just a year after the Blue Mosque was opened and is now buried nearby with his family. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Turkey.
Located near the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul. Closest tram stop is Sultanahmet. Not far from Cankurtaran train station. Tourists must enter through the north door.
Open daily from 9am. Closed during prayer times (5 times/day). Entry is free but donations requested. Shoes must be removed and women must cover their head and generally dress quite modestly - robes/scarves are provided for those who are not.
Atmeydani Cd, Sultan Ahmet Mh., 34122 Istanbul, Turkey
Contact local tourist office