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The Blue Mosque
Sultan Ahmed Mosque Istanbul Turkey retouched.jpg
Basic information
Location Istanbul, Turkey
Geographic coordinates 41°00′20″N 28°58′39″E / 41.005483°N 28.977385°E / 41.005483; 28.977385
Affiliation Islam
Architectural description
Architect(s) Sedefkâr Mehmed Ağa
Architectural type Mosque
Architectural style Islamic, Late Classical Ottoman
Completed 1616
Capacity 10,000
Length 73 m (240 ft)
Width 65 m (213 ft)
Dome height (outer) 43 m (141 ft)
Dome dia. (inner) 23.50 m (77.1 ft)[1]
Minaret(s) 6
Minaret height 64 m (210 ft)

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Turkish: Sultan Ahmet Camii) is a historic mosque in Istanbul. The mosque is popularly known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior.

It was built from 1609 to 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. Its Külliye contains a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is still popularly used as a mosque.


After the Peace of Zsitvatorok and the unfavorable result of the war with Persia, Sultan Ahmet the First decided to build a big mosque in Istanbul to calm God.[citation needed] It would be the first imperial mosque for more than forty years. While his predecessors had paid for their mosques with their spoil of war, Ahmet the First had to remove the funds of the Treasury, because he had not gained remarkable victories. It caused the anger of oulémas, the Muslim jurists. The mosque must be built on the site of the palace of the Byzantine emperors, in front of the basilica Ayasofya (at that time, the mosque the most worshipped in Istanbul) and the racecourse, a site of a big symbolic meaning. Big parts of the south shore of the mosque rest on the foundations, the vaults of the old Grand Palace.


The Sultan Ahmed Mosque has one main dome, six minarets, and eight secondary domes. The design is the culmination of two centuries of Ottoman mosque development. It incorporates some Byzantine Christian elements of the neighboring Hagia Sophia with traditional Islamic architecture and is considered to be the last great mosque of the classical period. The architect, Sedefkâr Mehmed Ağa, synthesized the ideas of his master Sinan, aiming for overwhelming size, majesty and splendour.


Courtyard of the mosque, at dusk.

The facade of the spacious forecourt was built in the same manner as the facade of the Süleymaniye Mosque, except for the addition of the turrets on the corner domes. The court is about as large as the mosque itself and is surrounded by a continuous vaulted arcade (revak). It has ablution facilities on both sides. The central hexagonal fountain is small relative to the courtyard. The monumental but narrow gateway to the courtyard stands out architecturally from the arcade. Its semi-dome has a fine stalactite structure, crowned by a small ribbed dome on a tall tholobate. Its historical elementary school (Sıbyan Mektebi) is used as "Mosque Information Center" which is adjacent to its outer wall on the side of Hagia Sophia. This is where they provide visitors with a free orientational presentation on the Blue Mosque and Islam in general.[2]

A heavy iron chain hangs in the upper part of the court entrance on the western side. Only the sultan was allowed to enter the court of the mosque on horseback. The chain was put there, so that the sultan had to lower his head every time he entered the court to avoid being hit. This was a symbolic gesture, to ensure the humility of the ruler in the face of the divine.

The six minarets were a matter of contention and a first, since four minarets were the common maximum. Only after one more minaret was added to the Masjid al-Haram, Grand Mosque, in Mecca was the six minarets issue settled.


Interior view, featuring the prayer area and the main dome.

At its lower levels and at every pier, the interior of the mosque is lined with more than 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles, made at Iznik (the ancient Nicaea) in more than fifty different tulip designs. The tiles at lower levels are traditional in design, while at gallery level their design becomes flamboyant with representations of flowers, fruit and cypresses. More than 20,000 tiles were made under the supervision of the Iznik master potter Kasap Haci and Baris Efendi from Avanos (Cappadocia). The price to be paid for each tile was fixed by the sultan's decree, while tile prices in general increased over time. As a result, the quality of the tiles used in the building decreased gradually. The upper levels of the interior are dominated by blue paint. More than 200 stained glass windows with intricate designs admit natural light, today assisted by chandeliers. On the chandeliers, ostrich eggs are found that were meant to avoid cobwebs inside the mosque by repelling spiders.[3] The decorations include verses from the Qur'an, many of them made by Seyyid Kasim Gubari, regarded as the greatest calligrapher of his time. The floors are covered with carpets, which are donated by the faithful and are regularly replaced as they wear out. The many spacious windows confer a spacious impression. The casements at floor level are decorated with opus sectile. Each exedra has five windows, some of which are blind. Each semi-dome has 14 windows and the central dome 28 (four of which are blind). The coloured glass for the windows was a gift of the Signoria of Venice to the sultan. Most of these coloured windows have by now been replaced by modern versions with little or no artistic merit.

The most important element in the interior of the mosque is the mihrab, which is made of finely carved and sculptured marble, with a stalactite niche and a double inscriptive panel above it. It is surrounded by many windows. The adjacent walls are sheathed in ceramic tiles. To the right of the mihrab is the richly decorated minber, or pulpit, where the imam stands when he is delivering his sermon at the time of noon prayer on Fridays or on holy days. The mosque has been designed so that even when it is at its most crowded, everyone in the mosque can see and hear the imam.

The royal kiosk is situated at the south-east corner. It comprises a platform, a loggia and two small retiring rooms. It gives access to the royal loge in the south-east upper gallery of the mosque. These retiring rooms became the headquarters of the Grand Vizier during the suppression of the rebellious Janissary Corps in 1826. The royal loge (hünkâr mahfil) is supported by ten marble columns. It has its own mihrab, which used to be decorated with a jade rose and gilt[4] and with one hundred Qurans on an inlaid and gilded lecterns.[5]

The many lamps inside the mosque were once covered with gold and gems.[6] Among the glass bowls one could find ostrich eggs and crystal balls.[7] All these decorations have been removed or pillaged for museums.

The great tablets on the walls are inscribed with the names of the caliphs and verses from the Quran. They were originally by the great 17th-century calligrapher Seyyid Kasim Gubari of Diyarbakır but have been repeatedly restored.

Interior view

Pope Benedict XVI's visit and silent meditation[edit]

A short movie showing details of the Blue Mosque.

Pope Benedict XVI visited the Sultan Ahmed Mosque on 30 November 2006 during his visit to Turkey. It marks as only the second papal visit in history to a Muslim place of worship. Having removed his shoes, the Pope paused for a full two minutes, eyes closed in silent meditation,[8] standing side by side with Mustafa Çağrıcı, the Mufti of Istanbul, and Emrullah Hatipoğlu, the Imam of the Blue Mosque.[9]

The pope “thanked divine Providence for this” and said, “May all believers identify themselves with the one God and bear witness to true brotherhood.” The pontiff noted that Turkey “will be a bridge of friendship and collaboration between East and West”, and he thanked the Turkish people “for the cordiality and sympathy” they showed him throughout his stay, saying, “he felt love and understood.”[10]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Encyclopedia of architectural and engineering feats, Donald Langmead, Christine Garnaut, page 322, 2001
  2. ^ http://www.sultanahmetcami.org/sultanahmet-camii-sibyan-mektebi_h50.html
  3. ^ "Sultan Ahmet Cami or Blue Mosque". MuslimHeritage.com. Retrieved 2012-01-26. 
  4. ^ Öz, T., "Sultan Ahmet Camii' in Vakiflar Dergisi, I, Ankara, 1938
  5. ^ Evliya Efendi, Narrative of travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa in the seventeenth century; London, 1846
  6. ^ Naima M., Annals of the Turkish Empire from 1591 to 1659 of the Christian Era; Frazer, London, 1832
  7. ^ Tournefort, J.P., Marquis de, Relation d'un voyage du Levant, Amsterdam, 1718
  8. ^ Foxnews: Pope Benedict XVI Visits Turkey's Famous Blue Mosque, 30 November 2006, retrieved 19 October 2011
  9. ^ "Pope makes Turkish mosque visit". BBC News. 2006-11-30. Retrieved 2012-01-26. 
  10. ^ "Pope: In mosque I prayed to the one God for all mankind". Asianews.it. Retrieved 2012-01-26. 


External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sultan_Ahmed_Mosque — Please support Wikipedia.
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182 news items

Thu, 10 Apr 2014 00:06:30 -0700

Pope Benedict XVI visited the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in 2006. He removed his shoes as he entered, paused for a full two minutes, eyes closed in silent meditation. He “thanked divine Providence for this” and said, “May all believers identify themselves ...
Olive Press
Wed, 02 Apr 2014 07:48:45 -0700

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque) in Istanbul switched off for Earth Hour for the first time, alongside the Hagia Sophia and Bosphorous Bridge that connects Europe and Asia. The Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, Tokyo Tower, The Bird Nest ...


Fri, 28 Mar 2014 20:00:57 -0700

Discover the sprawling delights of Istanbul with Just You (0844 567 9927/justyou.co.uk) on a tour that takes in city highlights such as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (aka the Blue Mosque) with its iconic six minarets, the Byzantine Hagia Sofia and the ...

CTV News

GMA News
Wed, 26 Mar 2014 23:16:00 -0700

Where East meets West, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque) in Istanbul will switch off for Earth Hour for the first time, alongside the Hagia Sophia and Bosphorous Bridge that connects Europe and Asia. The Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, ...
WWF International
Sat, 29 Mar 2014 10:48:45 -0700

As Earth Hour makes its way across the globe, Turkey's Sultan Ahmed Mosque — also known as the Blue Mosque — will turn off its lights for the first time. Many of the world's most recognizable landmarks will join WWF in raising the world's ...

Look To The Stars

Look To The Stars
Mon, 31 Mar 2014 02:56:15 -0700

Where East meets West, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque) in Istanbul switched off for Earth Hour for the first time, alongside the Hagia Sophia and Bosphorous Bridge that connects Europe and Asia. Lights out footage from famous European ...
Sun, 06 Apr 2014 02:45:00 -0700

從蘇菲亞大教堂到藍色清真寺(Sultan Ahmed Mosque)會經過君士坦丁廣場,這原是一個長約450米,寬約130米能夠容納10萬觀眾的古賽馬競技場。廣場盡頭矗立著一隻埃及方尖碑,碑前還有一隻三頭銅蛇柱,如今柱頂上的蛇頭都不見蹤影。而在另一端的藍色清真寺, ...
Fri, 28 Mar 2014 18:34:09 -0700

Sebelumnya, Icha nampak memamerkan style barunya dalam berhijab dengan memposting foto saat mereka berada di Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Tidak berhenti di situ, Icha juga memamerkan kemesraan mereka berdua dengan memposting foto bersama sang ...

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