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The Blue Mosque Istanbul

The Blue Mosque Istanbul

Beware! At the moment, the Blue Mosque Istanbul is under construction inside, the scaffolding hides a good part of the mosque. The Blue Mosque Istanbul is located at Sultanahmet square in front of another huge monument under the name of Hagia Sophia. It is is a must-see monument visited by millions of travelers from all over the world each year. At the foot of this majestic building, we have to cross very beautiful gardens before we can visit it.

The entrance to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul is a pure marvel of architecture

Very pretty booklets explaining Islam, practices and history in several languages. They ​​are available to visitors at the entrance of many mosques, for the simple purpose of informing the general public. The Blue Mosque in Istanbul is such a sumptuous building that you cannot remain indifferent to this grandiose place, there is something that cannot be explained with words, that you absolutely must come and live on the spot.

History of the Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque in Istanbul in Istanbul or the Sultanahmet Mosque for Turks is the largest mosque in Istanbul. After the unfavorable outcome of the war with Persia, Sultan Ahmet I decided to build a very large mosque in Constantinople in order to appease God. The predecessors of Ahmet I, had paid for their mosques with their spoils of war, but as Ahmet I had not achieved remarkable victories, he had to withdraw the funds from the Treasury, which angered the inhabitants of Costantinople and the oulema (Muslim jurists).

The Blue Mosque Istanbul
The Blue Mosque Istanbul

The construction of the Mosque began in August 1609, its royal architect Sedefhar Mehmet Ağa, a pupil and principal assistant of the famous architect Mimar Sinan was chosen for as an architect in charge of the construction. The organization of the work has been described in great detail in eight volumes, stored today in the library of the Topkapı Palace. The works of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul ended in 1616 and lasted 7 years.

Any Imperial mosque in Istanbul, small or large, it will be built in 7 years (sacred number of Muslims). As in all the mosques of the sultans in Istanbul there is the tomb of the founder, a medersa (a Koranic school) and a hospice (hospital where one is treated there for free). During the Ottoman Empire, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul was the starting point for Muslim pilgrims to Mecca. Today the Hajjs (pilgrims) say a prayer there before leaving. It was the only mosque in Istanbul to have 6 minarets, only Mescid-i Haram Camii in Mecca has 7 minarets.

Anecdote: When the mosque was built, the Arabs did not accept that it had as many minarets as the sacred KAABA mosque, which meant that Sultan Ahmet 1st made the choice to finance the 7th minaret of the KAABA mosque, instead of removing 1 minaret from its construction in Constantinople. 1079 years separate the Blue Mosque in Istanbul from the immense construction of the Hagia Sophia which is located just opposite. The architecture of the great Mosques is directly inspired by the Saint Sophia Basilica dating from the 6th century.

Architecture of the Blue Mosque Istanbul

The central dome of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul measures 23.5 meters in diameter and 43 meters in height, the dome is supported by 4 massive pillars called  “elephant legs” and is buttressed by 4 half-domes, the interior is flooded with light through 260 windows. The trifle of 21,043 earthenware tiles decorate the beautiful, predominantly blue, a pure wonder. Even if it is a place of visits, it remains a religious place, where we pray. This place and the faithful in practice are therefore to be absolutely respected.

To visit the mosque, there is a small dress protocol to respect before entering: like covering the head with a scarf for women or covering arms and legs for women and men. Do not panic if you do not have one, everything is provided, the loan of scarf or long blue tunic is done at the entrance if you are too naked. We remove the shoes at the entrance, we put them in a plastic bag and we keep them with us throughout the visit or we have the choice to place them on the wooden benches inside. The shoes are never stolen here but only confused, therefore you may leave with varnished shoes instead of your walking shoes.

Opening hours of the Blue Mosque Istanbul: from 8.30 AM until 17.00 PM – 7/7 

  • On Friday, the day of the great prayer, it is closed all morning (only loyal priors are invited).

At the exit of the mosque, a very nice man awaits a small gesture of generosity. Always optional of course.

How to go to reach the Blue Mosque?

To go reach the mosque from the Eminönü pier, take the tram to some stations or walk for around 20 minutes following the tram rails, very pleasant path where you will have the pleasure of discovering many food shops, decorations, souvenirs, carpets , jewelry, onix …. Otherwise it is located in the Sultanahmet square in front of the Hagia Sophia Basilica, near the racetrack.

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