BLUE MOSQUE - SULTANAHMET CAMII
The Blue Mosque, officially known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is without a doubt, one of the most spectacular sights of Istanbul and one of the architectural marvels of the world. It is referred to as the Blue Mosque, due to the blue tiles adorning the interior walls.
It was built for the Sultan Ahmet over the period 1609 - 1616 and accordingly named after him. The mosque was built on the site of the palace of the Byzantine emperors, facing both Hagia Sofia and the Hippodrome. Many other palaces already on the site had to be destroyed for the construction go the Blue Mosque. It is comprised of a magnificent series of domes and semi-domes, with six slender minarets sprouting from the corners of the mosque, with a spacious courtyard. Particular attention should be paid to the entrance gates, the chandeliers, the blue tiles adorning the roof and the stained glass windows, which light up the variously coloured tiled walls of the Mosque. Like other mosques, there is also a tomb for the founder, madrasah and a hospice.
The Blue mosque was designed by the architect Sedefkar Mehmet Aga and culminates both Ottoman and Byzantine themes. The architect was aiming for the majesty found in designs by Sinan; however the inside lacks the creative thinking Sinan is well known for. It is still considered to be the last great mosque of the classical period.
The Sultan Ahmet Mosque is one of two in Istanbul with six minarets. When it was built the Sultan was criticised for the number of minarets, since this was the same amount as the Ka’aba in Mecca. The Sultan overcame this problem by paying for a seventh minaret to be built in Mecca.
There is one minaret at each corner of the mosque, each one with three balconies. The other two minarets can be found in the forecourt and only have two balconies.
Until recently the prayer-caller had to climb the staircase five times a day to announce the call to prayer, however today a public address system is used and can be heard across the old town. Other mosques in the area echo the call.