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The Blue Mosque in Istanbul

The Blue Mosque is the main Muslim temple of ancient Istanbul. It is located on the shore of the Sea of Marmara, in the historic part of the city, has six minarets and is one of the most ambitious achievements in the field of oriental architecture.

This mosque has truly exquisite architecture and magnificent interior decoration, it is one of the best Muslim temples. With it the Islamic architects wanted to emphasize the greatness of Islam.

The Blue Mosque in Istanbul is located in the Sultanahmet district. Next to it is the famous museum, the former Cathedral of St. Sophia, formerly the most important Orthodox cathedral in Constantinople, and later the mosque Aya Sofia.

History of the Blue Mosque

In the early 17th century the Ottoman Empire fought long and unsuccessful wars with Persia and Austria. After a long war with Austria, a peace was concluded by which the Turks agreed not to demand tribute from her every year. It was a defeat for the Ottomans.

Sultanahmet Mosque, Istanbul

Sultan Ahmet I decided to propitiate Allah, and to do this he built a mosque like no other in Turkic land. Ahmed had to pay for the construction from his own coffers. All of the work performed is described in detail in six volumes of reports.

On the site of the future Blue Mosque, many ancient buildings and structures, temples and palaces from the Byzantine and early Ottoman periods were demolished. It was important to the sultan that it stand close to his Topkapi Palace.

Modern scholars believe that Sultan Ahmet I wanted to leave his mark on Turkish history through this mosque. His military campaigns failed, he suffered defeats, and periodic riots broke out in the country. The more beautiful this temple turned out to be.

Another goal that Sultan Ahmet I set for himself during the construction of this majestic temple: to surpass the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Constantinople. Show the greater significance of Islam compared to Christianity.

Architecture of the Blue Mosque

In this temple two architectural styles are combined: ancient – from the Ottoman Empire and ancient – from Byzantium. The construction lasted seven years and ended a year before Sultan’s untimely death.

The main material of the Blue Mosque is sandstone and marble. Its blue hue is the result of several tens of thousands of tiles made of white and sky-colored ceramics. Each interior decoration is handmade by a master craftsman.

The Blue Mosque in Istanbul - History

Iznik factories in Turkey were famous for their quality ceramics, so Sultan Ahmet I gave orders to bring from there the most beautiful products and forbade their exportation to other construction sites. But he didn’t pay them any money, and the Iznik factories soon went bankrupt.

The main hall of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul is covered by a giant dome with a diameter of about 25 meters and a height of more than 40 meters. It has various surahs from the Koran written on it, well known sayings of the prophet in the Muslim world, etc.

The big dome of the mosque is held by five huge elephant-like columns, each with a diameter of five meters. Together they demonstrate the strength and power of the faith of the people of the Ottoman Empire in the establishing of the Koran, in the words of Muhammad.


As you know, in Islam it is forbidden to depict people, so all the walls are covered with a variety of graphic ornaments and delicate plant patterns, including. with the image of roses, tulips, lilies and other flowers.

Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque) in Istanbul

Experts in the study of the Blue Mosque counted about 50 kinds of images of tulips on ceramics. The floors of the mosque are covered with beautiful handmade oriental silk carpets.

There are more than 250 windows inside, so the mosque is well lit. The window panes were first made in Venice and brought from there, but over time the Venetian windows were replaced by more modern stained glass.

These stained glass windows themselves are works of decorative art, they make the Blue Mosque even more exquisite, adding to its airiness, a sense of the presence of the spirit of Allah.

The Blue Mosque inside (Istanbul)

Especially striking is the local mihrab: the place for prayers. It is a small niche carved inside a massive piece of marble. On top of this piece of marble is a black stone, according to legend, brought from Mecca itself.

It is from this stone that Muslims begin their pilgrimage to their holy city of Mecca, called the Hajj in Arabic. The Qur’an says that every true believer should perform such a hajj at least once in his life.

Above the Western entrance to the Blue Mosque hangs a chain. Only the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire used this entrance when he rode his horse into the courtyard of the mosque. When he entered, he was sure to bend beneath the chain, demonstrating his insignificance before Allah.

From the outside

The Blue Mosque in Istanbul was built along with a madrasa (school of Islam), a kitchen, a hospital, and outbuildings. In the 19th century, however, many additional structures were eliminated.

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

There are several balconies on each minaret of the mosque. The number corresponds to the number of Ottoman sultans, including Ahmet I himself. Nearby is the mausoleum where he is buried with his wife and relatives.

Upon completion, the most important mosque for all Muslims in the world, located in Mecca, and the mosque of Sultan Ahmet began to have the same number of minarets – six.

However, in the Muslim world this fact was considered a sacrilege, an encroachment on the greatness of the main shrines in Mecca and Medina, so a seventh minaret was soon added to the first mosque.

The Blue Mosque in Istanbul today

For four centuries the Blue Mosque has been the main Muslim temple in Turkey. It is still in operation, with annual church services according to the Muslim rite, and the prayers of the faithful are offered up to the heavens.

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

The muezzins’ calls to prayer can be heard every morning for many kilometers around this mosque. And the doors to it are open to all: people of different faiths, confessions and simply atheists.

It is possible to get inside the mosque through several gates. Muslims can do this through the front gate, while tourists can enter the Blue Mosque through the southern, non-parade gate.

There are several fountains at the main entrances on the side of the square where the temple stands. With their help, the Koran requires obligatory ablution before every namaz.

The Blue Mosque in Istanbul

It is known that Orthodox men and women pray separately. Any man can enter the main hall, and not only a Muslim. And in the rooms designated for women’s prayers, access by outsiders is strictly forbidden.

A model of the house of Prophet Muhammad, installed inside the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, is of great interest to believers and tourists. After touring the temple, anyone can leave donations.

Attendance rules and times

Tourists can enter the mosque completely free of charge. You can do it any day of the week, except Fridays, from 09-00 to 21-00 in the High Season and from 09-00 to 18-00 in the Low Season. Five times a day the entrance for tourists is closed, because. the mosque holds namaz.

When visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, in order to avoid offending the feelings of Muslims praying in this holy temple for them, you should adhere to several mandatory rules.

  1. Women must necessarily wear long skirts, and their heads must be tied scarves covering their hair and bare shoulders. All of this can be taken for free at the entrance to the mosque.
  2. It is mandatory for men to wear pants or long shorts that cover the knees so as not to embarrass Muslims. These clothes can also be borrowed from the mosque.
  3. At the entrance to the Blue Mosque do not forget to take off your shoes, you can not be in the main hall with your shoes on. Removed shoes are stored at the entrance in special bags given free of charge by the administrative staff of the mosque.
  4. Inside the mosque one should behave as calmly as possible, not defiantly, not to distract the worshippers present in the temple from communion with the Almighty. It is forbidden to take photos or make video recordings there.

How to get to the Blue Mosque?

The address of the temple is as follows: Sultanahmet Mahallesi, Atmeydani Cad. No:7; 34122 Fatih, Istanbul or Sultanahmet Mahallesi Square, 4 Atmeydani Street, Fatih district, Istanbul. Any guidebook or resident of Istanbul will tell you how to get there.

The city has a network of high-speed streetcars. One of the streetcar stops on the T1 line is called “Sultanahmet”. From there you have to walk about 300 meters to the mosque, which takes about 5-7 minutes.

You can go directly from Ataturk Airport to the historic part of Istanbul. To do this, you need to take the electric train and go directly to the station “Aksaray”. The further way to the Blue Mosque is a 15-minute walk.

The Blue Mosque on the map of Istanbul

Video overview of the Blue Mosque

We strongly recommend that you visit the Blue Mosque in Istanbul even if you are not a Muslim. You will see one of the greatest creations of Turkish architects, it can safely be called one of the wonders of the world, the peak of Islamic architecture.

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