The Blue Mosque in Istanbul is considered by many to be the last “great mosque” of the Ottoman Empire era, and its awe-inspiring splendor leaves little doubt. Continue reading to find out more about this truly stunning mosque, or book one of our epic Egypt and Turkey tours and visit the site in person with one of our professional guides and a private driver.
The Blue Mosque, or to use its proper name, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is considered by many to be the last great mosque built during the classical period. It is sometimes said that the person who designed it had three main objectives in mind:
- Overwhelming size
- Overwhelming majesty
- Overwhelming splendor
One of the interesting aspects of the mosque is that while its architecture is fundamentally Islamic, it also incorporates a number of Byzantine features.
Six Minarets – A Matter Of Contention
The Blue Mosque in Istanbul is also the first mosque ever built with six minarets. Prior to the mosque being built, no mosque was allowed to have more than four minarets, which resulted in quite a bit of contention at the time. In fact, the issue was only laid to rest when an additional minaret was finally added to the revered Masjid al-Haram Mosque in Mecca.
Handmade Tiles; Colored Glass Windows And Elaborate Chandeliers
At the lower level, as well as at every pier, the walls of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul are covered by more than 20,000 ceramic tiles, all of which are handmade. While the tiles used for the lower level are in line with longstanding tradition, those on the upper level beautifully decorated.
Ironically, as construction of the mosque progressed, the quality of the tiles declined since the sultan had set a fixed price for the tiles when construction first got underway. In order for the tile makers to stick within their budget, they were forced to cut back on quality.
The mosque also has more than two hundred intricately designed stained glass windows, some of which were given to the sultan as a gift from the Signoria of Venice. Unfortunately, many of the original windows have been replaced over the years, and their replacements cannot compete as far as splendor is concerned.
Originally the mosque was illuminated entirely by natural light passing through the stained glass windows, but numerous chandeliers were later added. As with everything else in the mosque, the chandeliers are also works of art.
If you are going to be booking one of our Egypt and Turkey tour packages, we can easily include a visit to this mosque even if it is not featured in your preferred tour itinerary.
The Blue Mosque in Istanbul As It Stands Today
The Blue Mosque in Istanbul is still used as a place of worship today, just as it has been for the last 400 years. However, it has also become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Turkey. The mosque is generally open to tourists every day other than during daily prayer times. The mosque also houses the tomb of Sultan Ahmed, its founder, as well as a hospice and a madrasah.
An Historical Papal Visit
On November 30, 2006 Pope Benedict XVI made international headlines by visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul during his visit to Turkey. He is only the second Pope ever to have visited a Muslim place of worship, and the only Pope to have visited this particular mosque. After two minutes of silent meditation inside the mosque, he famously said that he believes Turkey will be the bridge which will one day join the East and the West.
Fees And Dress Code When Visiting Sultan Ahmed Mosque
Entrance to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul is free regardless of whether you are Muslim or non-Muslim. The dress code at the mosque is the same as it is at virtually all mosques:
Shoes must be removed prior to entering, and can be placed in plastic bags which are provided at the mosque free of charge. Men must wear long pants and either a T-shirt or a long sleeve shirt. Women on the other hand must ensure that both their legs and their arms are covered, and they are also expected to wear something to cover their hair. If you don’t have your own head covering, one will be provided free of charge at the entrance to the mosque.
No amount of words can describe the real splendor and beauty of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. You have to see it for yourself to really appreciate it in all its glory, so why not book one of our flawless Egypt and Turkey tours and enjoy a holiday of a lifetime in absolute comfort and style.