Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Mosque) – Istanbul
After the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, a distinctive style of art and architecture developed which is now typically described as Ottoman. It reached its peak in the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent and the buildings now considered to be most typical of Ottoman styles include the Blue Mosque.
The Sultan Ahmet Mosque is commonly known as the Blue Mosque and when you enter the mosque, the blue and green tiled interior explains the name. Its cascading domes and six soaring minarets dominate the skyline of Istanbul and can be seen from a distance. The six minarets are an unusual feature as most mosques have four, two or one minaret. As the story goes, Sultan Ahmet instructed his architect to make gold (altin) minarets and this was believed to have been misunderstood as six (alti) minarets. The original architect of the mosque met an unfortunate ending in that he was literally fired, i.e. executed, although I’m not sure if there was a link between the misunderstanding and the firing. Whatever the cause of the error, this caused quite a scandal, as the six minarets puts it on equal footing as the mosque in Mecca. The problem was ultimately solved by adding an additional minaret to Mecca’s mosque.
The interior high ceiling is lined with about 20,000 blue tiles giving the mosque its popular name. Fine examples of 16th-century Iznik design, the tiles feature flowers, trees and abstract patterns.
The Blue Mosque was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I to rival Hagia Sophia and took seven years to build. Construction began in 1609 and Sultan Ahmet died only a year after the completion of his masterpiece, at the age of 27. He is buried just outside the mosque with his wife and three sons.
On this visit, parts of the interior were roped off and a lone cleaner vacuums the carpet, probably in preparation for Ramadan.