The Sultanahmet Mosque is one of Istanbuls most famous landmarks and a spectacular place to visit. The historical Sultanahmet mosque is better known as the Blue Mosque due to the high ceilings which are lined with over 20,000 blue tiles.
The Blue Mosque, was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I when he was only 19 years old. Work stated in 1609 and took seven years to finish.
Sultan Ahmet I wanted to build a mosque that would be more impressive than the Hagia Sophia. Both the historic mosques stand next to each other in Istanbul's main square.
The Blue Mosque features six minarets. This is a very unique design, as most mosques have four, two, or just one minaret. It is believed that the reason for this was down to an error, the Sultan directed his architect to make gold (altin) minarets, which was misunderstood as six (alti) minarets.
Having six minarets caused quite a scandal, as the Haram Mosque in Mecca (the holiest in the world) also had six minarets. To resolve this issue the sultan decided to send his architect to Mecca to add a seventh minaret.
Visiting the Blue Mosque
Besides being a tourist attraction, it is also an active mosque, meaning it is closed to non-worshippers for 90 minutes during the five daily prayers.
Non-Muslims are welcome to admire the great architecture of the Blue Mosque both inside and out providing that they respect the Muslim traditions.
Before stepping into the Mosque, you are requested to take off your shoes and put them into plastic bags provided at the entrance
Women are advised to wear a head covering to hide their hair when entering the Blue Mosque. Head coverings are available at the Blue Mosque entrance for free.
When visitors are inside the mosque, they are expected to remain quiet and not use flash photography. Since this is a place of worship, it is forbidden to take photos of anyone praying.