Sultan Ahmet Mosque
As one of Istanbul’s most recognisable landmarks, the Sultan Ahmet Mosque remains the pinnacle of Ottoman architecture
The Sultan Ahmet mosque is a must see when visiting Istanbul and is located near many of Istanbul’s treasures such as the Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace, Basilica Cistern and the Grand Bazaar. The Sultan Ahmet Mosque was first commissioned to be built in 1609 by Sultan Ahmet when he was just 19 years old. The construction of the mosque took over 7 years to complete but sadly Sultan Ahmet died just one year after his magnificent mosque was finished. His mosque is still regarded as one of the masterpieces of Islamic architecture and remains a prominent figure of Istanbul’s skyline.
As you walk through into the courtyard it’s hard not to marvel at the phenomenal architecture on display. Inside the mosque you’ll notice that blue is the dominant colour of the interior, which is why the Sultan Ahmet was given it’s nickname the ‘Blue Mosque’ from overseas travellers. The interior walls are lined with over 21,000 dazzling handmade tiles that will grab your attention. This tiles came from a town in Turkey called Iznik which is famous for its ceramics and pottery designs, especially during the late 15th and 17th century.
Mosques have architectural features known as Minarets which are where a muezzin (the person responsible to lead and recite the call of prayer) would climb to the top and begin the call to prayer. The Sultan Ahmet mosque was the first of its kind to be designed with 6 minarets when 4 was the common maximum at the time.
When the Ottomans built a mosque, they would often build a complex of buildings in the surrounding area and the Sultan Ahmet mosque follows this tradition with a hospital, a higher education institution (madrasah), a primary school, a market (bazaar), a soup kitchen (imaret) and also a tomb for the members of the royal family all on site. The tomb of Sultan Ahmet is on the north side of the mosque facing the direction of the Sultan Ahmet park.
It is important to know that the mosque is still used for worship so you will need to remove your footwear before entering and place them in the provided bag for you to carry while your inside. Also as this is a working mosque, it is closed to non-workshippers 45 minutes before and 30 minutes after the call to prayer and all Friday morning until 2.30pm so plan your visit accordingly.
- Visit Sultan Ahmet Square at night during the month of Ramadan to experience the atmosphere of the holy month.
- Sultan Ahmet Mosque is walking distance from some of the other main historical landmarks such as Hagia Sophia and Topkapı Palace. It is worth purchasing the Istanbul Museum Pass for 85tl to visit these sights one after the other. The pass is valid for 72 hours.
How to get there
Take the Istanbul tram that runs between Bağcilar and Kabataş and get off at the dedicated Sultan Ahmet stop. This is also the same stop to visit stop to visit the Hagia Sophia.
You can also walk the route of the tram from Eminönü. The trip is short and allows you to soak in the atmosphere of Istanbul’s old town.
[googlemap src=”https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?expflags=enable_star_based_justifications:true&ie=UTF8&cid=5287376963645093532&q=Sultanahmet+Camii+(Blue+Mosque)&iwloc=A&gl=GB&hl=en” ]
The Mosque is open between 9.00am and 9.00pm, however it is closed to non-worshippers during the five daily prayers.
Entrance to the mosque is free.
Sultan Ahmet was the 14th Ottoman Sultan and ascended to the throne at the young age of 14. Sultan Ahmet never achieved any remarkable conquests like his predecessors and as a result the construction of his mosque half bankrupted the empire as it was funded by the empires treasury as opposed to income generated by the spoils of war.
Sultan Ahmet is said to have remarkably showed his commitment to the construction of the mosque by personally working as a labourer on the project. The construction of the mosque took 7 and a half years, and was completed in the year 1616. The architect of the mosque was Sedefkar Mehmet Aga, a student of the most celebrated architect of the Ottoman era, Mimar Sinan.