Istanbul’s Blue Mosque is without a doubt one of the city’s finest examples of Islamic architecture. Also known as Sultanahmet Mosque, visitors are curious as to why it was colorfully nicknamed the Blue Mosque. Curiosity peaks when they approach the mosque, and to their dismay, they do not see even a hint of blue from the outside. As puzzled as they may be at that moment, it all makes sense when they walk inside and the spectacular blue tiles grab their attention.
Sultan Ahmet I and Sedefkar Mehmed Agha: The Visionaries
We thank Sultan Ahmet I and his architect Sedefkar Mehmed Agha for this architectural masterpiece. If you didn’t already catch it, you’ll now learn that Sultanahmet Mosque is actually named after the Great Sultan himself. Sultan Ahmet I began construction of the mosque when he was just nineteen years of age. He desired to build an Islamic place of worship that would rival the Hagia Sophia, and amazingly, his dream came true when both places of worship were erected side by side for visitors to decide for themselves which piece of architecture was more outstanding.
Interestingly, and out of character for a mighty Sultan, he was so impatient to complete the project that he assisted many times to help hurry along the process. Sadly, at the age of twenty seven, he passed away – one year after the Blue Mosque was born. Today the mosque is his tomb where he rests for eternity with his wife and three sons.
One, Two, Four, or Six? Minaret Controversy
One of the reasons why the Blue Mosque is such a unique piece of architecture is because it boasts six minarets. Traditionally, mosques only have one, two, or at most, four minarets. Funnily enough, it’s rumored that it may have been a simple case of miscommunication between the Sultan and his appointed architect. Sultan Ahmet I had request that Sedefkar Mehmed Agha make gold (altin) minarets which his architect misunderstood as six (alti) minarets. This stirred great controversy as the holiest mosque in the world, the Harem Mosque in Mecca, also had six minarets. The Sultan was forced to send Sedefkar Mehmed Agha to Mecca to add an extra minaret to the Harem Mosque.
Thousands of Blue Tiles and Hundreds of Windows
The Blue Mosque’s interior also makes it stand out from the rest as it has 20,000 blue tiles that line its high ceiling and it is lit with two hundred and sixty windows which were once filled with seventeenth century stained glass. The most ancient of the blue tiles display flowers, trees and abstract patterns that make them Islamic architecture at its best. Unfortunately, however, the windows and stained glass have been lost and replaced with inferior replicas.
Enough reading, startexperiencing! If you’re eager to see Istanbul’s Blue Mosque for yourself, contact Hotel Büyük Keban and book your stay at an affordable rate. We’re only 2.4km away from this marvelous Islamic architecture.