Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Istanbul

After exploring the great Hagia Sophia, Zea and I continued walking around the Sultan Ahmet Park. This was a tourist area so there was plenty of people walking, taking pictures, buying souvenirs and just having a good time. We already reached where our next destination was because the other great building in front of the Hagia Sophia is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque or also known as Blue Mosque, famous for being the first mosque to have six minarets.

We crossed the parked and came upon the garden platform of the mosque where there were less people but still you can call it plenty. We took pictures at the front and went around and entered through the other side which in my opinion was the back. There was a line going in and as we wait here is the history of the Blue Mosque.

Sultan Ahmet I

“After the Peace of Zsitvatorok and the crushing loss in the 1603-1618 war with Persia, Sultan Ahmet I, decided to build a big mosque in Istanbul to reassert Ottoman power. 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, Sultan Ahmet I the First had to remove the funds of the Treasury, because he had not gained remarkable victories. It caused the anger of the ulema, the Muslim jurists.

The Blue Mosque, one of the most important works of Ottoman history, was built by the architect, Mehmet Aga, at the request of Sultan Ahmet I. It is stated in many sources that Ahmed the First, who sat on the throne as the 14th Ottoman sultan at the age of 14 in 1603, was a highly religious person. 

Sultan Ahmed asked Mehmet Aga to build a mosque that could compete with magnificent monuments such as Hagia Sophia and Suleymaniye Mosque. After lengthy efforts, Mehmet Aga drew up the plan of the mosque and presented it to the sultan. Sultan Ahmed listened to the architect’s explanations, liked and approved the plan.

Another view of the mosque

The mosque was built on the site of the palace of the Byzantine emperors, in front of the basilica Ayasofya (at that time, the primary imperial mosque in Istanbul) and the hippodrome, a site of significant symbolic meaning as it dominated the city skyline from the south. Big parts of the south shore of the mosque rest on the foundations, the vaults of the old Grand Palace.

Mehmet Aga, the architect

In 1609, Sultan Ahmed broke ground on the mosque on a sunny Thursday. Construction of the mosque was completed in seven years. Finally, on Friday, June 2, 1616, a magnificent opening ceremony was held, with the sultan and high-ranking state officials also present. A great banquet was offered to the guests by the sultan and the mosque was opened with prayers. The colorful brightness in the Blue Mosque, its fancy walls decorated with tiles, its doorways embellished with mother of pearl, its 6 minarets and appearance, which made the silhouette of Istanbul even more beautiful, aroused admiration. Back then, people called it the “New Mosque”. It was renamed the “Blue Mosque” after the construction of another mosque in Eminönü called the New Mosque.”

Now that was the whole history of the mosque. I put everything up because we will also be discussing the architectural structure of this historical mosque. Anyway, we waited in line because female in general has to wear a cover in their head and a dress to cover their whole body. By the entrance they have those items ready to be picked up. When it was our turn, Zea got her items and dressed up while I took of my shoes.

Interior of the mosque

We carried our shoes and enter the building. On the side there were shelves where you can put your shoes or any foot apparel. We did that and walked around this amazing place. People were everywhere some were sitting on the corners, talking while others were praying on different places while others like us were taking pictures.

Architecture of the Blue Mosque

The mosque itself is surrounded on three sides by a broad courtyard, and is entered on each side by a total of eight portals. The inner court is reached through three gates, and is paved in marble, and surrounded by revaks supported on columns of pink granite and marble, and two of porphyry, and surmounted by 30 cupolas. A fine fountain for ablution takes up the centre of the courtyard, surrounded by six marble columns. The mosque is unique with its six minarets in Istanbul. Four of these have three balconies, two have two balconies each, a total of 16 in all.

According to the memoires of Mehmed Aga, the “Risale-i Mimariye” – the number of balconies was originally to be 14 in honour of the number of Ottoman sultan,s but in the 16th century, the number was increased by two. The mosque intended to march and compete with Hagia Sophia, but in reality surpass it in proportion and the balance of internal spaces. It covers an area of 64X72m in all. The central dome rests on four pointed arches with corner pendentives, which are in turn set upon four large round and fluted piers, 1.60 m in diameter. Four semidomes, one to each side of the central dome, and small cupolas in the corners complete the roof-system of the mosque.

The most original feature of the mosque is the 260 windows through which it is so well it. Later these coloured windows were repaired and consequently light entering the interior increased. However this is said to have removed the mystic atmosphere of the interior. The mosque received its synonym as the Blue Mosque from the blueish haze given to the interior by these tiles. The faience consists of floral and rumi motifs of various colours on white ground.

Ahmet I died in 1617 and was buried near the mosque. The tomb, which was begun after this date, was completed in the time of his Osman II. The building is basically rectangular with domed portico and a square extension at the rear. The mausoleum contains 36 tombs of various sizes; the central one of which belongs to Ahmet I. In front of the mausoleum a marble-faced clock tower was built during the 19th century. Behind the library.”

Entrance/Exit of the mosque

We sat, we stand and took plenty of pictures. The magnificent details of creative tiles on the walls were amazing. After admiring the place and since it was getting a little bit crowded we went to take our shoes and return Zea’s stuff and went to the courtyard. Out there were still tourists walking around and we took more several pictures and exit. We didn’t have the chance to visit the mausoleum as we left the mosque to visit other sites and enjoy the streets of Istanbul.

Here are the links for more information:

History And Architecture

Say Cheez!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s