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What’s the Blue Mosque?
In the 17th century, when Sultan Ahmet I was 19 and he ruled over the Ottoman Empire, he commissioned a mosque to be built in Istanbul – an Islamic place of worship that he wanted to be better than the Hagia Sophia. In 1609, work started on the Blue Mosque (known as ‘Sultanahmet Camii’ in Turkish) and after seven years, this beautiful architectural wonder was completed and today, the two places of worship stand by side.
Torsten posted some stunning exterior views of the mosque during his trip to Istanbul earlier this year, including these photos:
Built over the site of the ancient Hippodrome and the Great Palace of Byzantium, Europeans named the mosque after its gorgeous interior blue tiles. Around 20,000 tiles line its high ceiling, many of them adorned with pictures of İznik design flowers, trees and abstract patterns. It’s the only mosque in Turkey to have six minarets, as mosques traditionally have either one, two or four minarets, so it’s a unique feature that makes this building stand out even more.
How do I visit the Blue Mosque?
It’s free to enter the Blue Mosque, but as it an active place of worship as well as a tourist attraction, you need to follow some guidelines.
- Before you enter the mosque you need to take off your shoes and put them in a plastic bag (provided free of charge).
- Women need to wear head coverings to hide hair – again they are provided for free if required.
- Wear long trousers or a long skirt.
- Don’t use flash photography.
- Be quiet and respectful of those worshiping around you.
It’s closed several times a day for prayer time, but the exact time changes from day to day and from place to place, so check the up-to-date information here on the Presidency of Religious Affairs website before you visit. It’s also best to avoid visiting Friday late morning through early afternoon or whenever the mosque is busy with worshipers.
The area where the mosque is can get extremely crowded with tourists and locals, but if you have the time to queue up, the Blue Mosque can be worth it.
What else do I need to know about the Blue Mosque?
If you want to know more about the Blue Mosque while in Istanbul, the official site links to a free English presentation that takes place at the Sultanahmet Mosque Information Center when the mosque is closed to visitors.
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