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The Blue Mosque Of Istanbul

Updated on November 8, 2014

The Blue Mosque

Morning at the Blue Mosque of Istanbul
Morning at the Blue Mosque of Istanbul | Source

The Sultan Ahmed Camii

The Blue Mosque, called "Sultan Ahmed Camii", in the Turkish language, was built from 1609 to 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. It was designed by architect Mehmet Aga. Like most other mosques, it also includes a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice. While still used as a mosque, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is also one of the most popular tourist attractions in Istanbul.

The six slender minarets are not only graceful, but unique. The Blue Mosque is the only mosque outside of Mecca with six minarets. As a visitor to Istanbul, seeing and learning about the history of the beautiful Blue Mosque is an experience not to be missed.

The First Call to Prayer of the Day

The Day Begins at the Blue Mosque

A day at the Blue Mosque begins early with the first of the five daily Muslim calls to prayer starting before dawn. Our hotel was in the historic Sultanahmed part of the city and we could hear the calls to prayer from several mosques in the area. In this video you can faintly hear the call to prayer from other mosques in the pauses.

The View from Sultanahmed Square

Istanbul Blue Mosque North Entrance
Istanbul Blue Mosque North Entrance

Th North Entrance to the Blue Mosque

We began our visit by walking in the North Entrance of the Blue Mosque which faces the Hagia Sophia Museum with the beautiful, park-like Sultanahmet Square in between the two historic buildings.

The Ablutions Area - A place to cleanse the body before prayer

Blue Mosque Ablutions
Blue Mosque Ablutions | Source

A Place to Cleanse the Body Before Prayer

The mosque features stations with faucets where the faithful may do their ablutions. It has a bench to sit on and an elevated marble place under the faucet for elevating and washing their feet. There is no one in the photo because it is considered very rude to take photos of people during this part of their religious ritual.

The Sultan Ahmed Camii Courtyard

Blue Mosque Courtyard - Istanbul, Turkey
Blue Mosque Courtyard - Istanbul, Turkey

Inside the Blue Mosque Courtyard

From the north entrance we entered the courtyard. The courtyard was designed to be the same size as the inside of the mosque. In the center of the courtyard is the hexagonal shaped ablutions fountain, which is called a sadirvan. It is is no longer used for ritual ablutions, but remains in place as part of the original architectural design. One of the many examples of the Islamic calligraphy displayed both inside and outside the mosque can be seen over an arch on the right side of the picture.

A Pashima Scarf to Use as a Head Cover

Gravity Threads 100% Pashmina Soft Shawl Wrap Scarf, Black
Gravity Threads 100% Pashmina Soft Shawl Wrap Scarf, Black

I was glad I bought and packed my own Pashima Scarf for my trip to Istanbul. It was not only fashionable and warm, but also came in handy whenever I wanted to tour the inside of one of the many beautiful mosques.


Headcoverings for Women - Bring along your own headscarf or borrow one at the mosque

As a guest inside any place of worship, it is important to be respectful of the customs of the religion. In the Moslem religion women wear a head covering inside mosques. Although most mosques usually have loaner headscarves available at the entrance, I brought along my own inexpensive pashima scarf. It was lightweight, was easy to pack and took up very little space in my luggage. I just wore it around my neck when I left the hotel each day in case we decided to go inside a mosque. We visited in the winter, so the added warmth was nice and it came in handy because there wasn't always a loaner scarf available at every mosque that we visited. In the summer when the temperatures are warmer, I might opt for just bringing one along in a handbag.

Plastic Bags for Carrying Your Shoes

Remove Your Shoes Before Entering a Mosque

Another custom to be mindful of and observe is to remove your shoes before entering a mosque. Since there are so many beautiful mosques to see in the city, I recommend wearing shoes that are easy to slip off and on and be sure not to pack any socks with holes in them!

In most mosques there are shelves to leave your shoes while visiting. Since the Blue Mosque is such a popular tourist attraction, to avoid congestion and keep everyone moving, visitors enter through a side entrance and exit through a different entrance. Signs point to the side entrance where there are benches to sit on while removing your shoes and convenient rolls of plastic bags to be used to carry your shoes with you while you tour the inside of the mosque.

Inside the Blue Mosque

Turkish Carpet, Stained Glass and Chandeliers

The inside of the Blue Mosque is magnificent. The floor is covered with beautiful turkish carpet, sunlight streams through the stained glass windows and the chandeliers which once held candles have been modified and modernized to accommodate light bulbs.

The Ceiling Covered with Beautiful Iznik Tiles

Cascading Domes of the Mosque

The Blue Mosque ceiling is made up of eight cascading domes all covered in Iznik tiles. Since the Moslem religion prohibits images of people or animals inside a mosque, the tiles have intricate floral designs and geometric patterns. Iznik tiles were made at the famous ceramics center located at the Turkish city of Iznik.

The Highest Dome of the Blue Mosque - A close-up view of the namesake blue dome

The Central Blue Dome

The central dome is illuminated by stained glass windows and covered with Iznik tiles with predominantly blue patterns which is why it is called the Blue Mosque.

Blue Mosque Facts

Commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I

Architect: Mehmet Aga (student of famous architect, Sinan)

Built from 1609 to 1616

6 minarets

8 cascading domes

Over 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles cover the interior

Womens Prayer Area

A Separate Area for Women Inside the Mosque

During prayer times and worship services women have their own separate area inside the mosque.

A Tour of the Blue Mosque with Rick Steves

The Blue Mosque at Night - Lights of Istanbul and Sultanahmed Camii at Night


The End of the Day - The Last Call to Prayer of the Day

© 2012 Vicki Green

Have You Ever Visited the Blue Mosque in Istanbul? - Your comments are appreciated!

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    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      The Blue Mosque really astounded me. It is so beautiful.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Wonderful photos of the Blue Mosque. Thanks for the memories. I was there in 2012. I wish I could have seen it at sunset, it looks amazing in your photo!

    • wildbluefrontier profile image

      Nathan M 5 years ago from Tucson

      The Blue Mosque must be quite a sight in person. An interesting tour for those who have never seen it before.

    • profile image

      reasonablerobby 5 years ago

      A simply amazing building. I was in Istanbul for the first time the other month I recommend it to everyone.

    • OldStones LM profile image

      OldStones LM 5 years ago

      I have never visited the Blue Mosque, but I would sure like to. It looks absolutely gorgeous. Thank you for the tour.

    • srsddn lm profile image

      srsddn lm 5 years ago

      Blue Mosque is gorgeous. One cannot believe that it can be so magnificent from inside and the six minarets are elegant.