The Blue Mosque of Istanbul, also called the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet, was the Islamic response to the Hagia Sofia Cathedral. The architect Mehmet Aga Sedefkar wanted to surpass the grandeur of the Christian Orthodox Church and some say he has succeeded this goal.
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The Blue Mosque was built between 1609 and 1617, nearly 1100 years after the completion of the Hagia Sofia Cathedral. The Blue Mosque has a central dome of 33 meters in diameter, with several lower domes placed around the central dome. To get the best view from the exterior of the mosque, you should approach it from the west. The mosque has the unprecedented number of six minarets. The number of minarets, symbolized the richness of the sultan. But the Islamic world was outraged at the number of six minarets, because the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca, also had six. The Sultan solved this problem by donating a seventh minaret to the Grand Mosque.
From looking at the interior alone, it is not immediately clear why the building is known as the Blue Mosque. The 20,000 tiles that decorate the interior from the mosque, have blue, green and brown colors and come from the town of Iznik. The blue tiles are mainly mounted on the upper parts and the courtyard. Note the beautifully sculpted prayer niche, the mihrab, which indicates the direction of Mecca. Please note that the mosque is closed during prayer services (5 times a day). On Friday, the holy mosque may be closed for extended periods. Want to see the Mosque in person? Why not book a holiday to Istanbul, by checking out our Turkey Holiday page.
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