Even if you’ve never been to Istanbul, it’s very likely that you’ve seen that building above this post. Right? The Blue Mosque is one of the most famous landmarks in Turkey’s largest city and illustrates magazine covers, travel agencies publicity and pretty much anything Istanbul-related. So you won’t be surprised that visit the Blue Mosque in Istanbul would be a must for anyone in the city.

Visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul

ISTANBUL’S BLUE MOSQUE IN A NUTSHELL

The Blue Mosque is actually called “Sultanahmet Mosque”, named after… errrmmm… Sultan Ahmet I, who ordered its construction in the end of the 16th Century. It was then built between 1603 and 1618, reassuring Ottoman power and was the first imperial mosque in almost half a century.

Visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul

The location is one of the most privileged in Istanbul, right in the area today known as Sultanahmet, facing the majestic Aya Sophia, a Byzantine church turned into a mosque. Sultanahmet Mosque itself was built on the site of a grand palace from the Byzantine era, perhaps to – again – reassure Ottoman superiority. Talk about marking territory!

CURIOUS FACTS ABOUT THE BLUE MOSQUE

– There is no doubt that Sultanahmet Mosque is a beautiful building. But it’s no more beautiful than any other Imperial Mosque – see for example the New Mosque and take your own conclusion.

– The Blue Mosque is not blue! Yes, that’s right. This “nickname” comes from the blue tiles that decorate the interior of the mosque.

Visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul

– Even when you visit the interior of Sultanahmet Mosque, you’ll struggle to see any blue tiles, since they’re more easily seen from the upper galleries.

– It is unusual for a mosque to have six minarets, like the Blue Mosque. Some say it was a misunderstanding, that the sultan wanted altin (golden) minarets and the architect understood alti (six) minarets.

– The red carpets that cover the interiors are replaced regularly, as they wear out.

– Its interior is lit by more than two hundred windows, once decorated with stained glass. Sadly, through the years, they have been replaced by replica of inferior quality.

– In 2006 Pope Benedict XVI visited the Blue Mosque and became the second Pope to ever visit a Muslim place of worship.

– The Blue Mosque can be seen from many parts of Istanbul, even across the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus.

– Sultan Ahmet I died only one year after the mosque was completed, at the age of 27.

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Visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul

VISITING THE BLUE MOSQUE IN ISTANBUL

Despite being Istanbul’s number one tourist attraction, it is still an active working mosque and you should bear a few things in mind before visiting the Blue Mosque.

Practising muslims pray five times a day at specific times. The mosque is closed for visitors for 90 minutes during pray times. Before visiting the Blue Mosque or any other mosque, in fact, make sure you check the prayer times.

Visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul

You must take off your shoes before entering the mosque – you’ll be given a plastic bag so you can carry it. You won’t be allowed into the mosque if you’re wearing shorts, mini-skirts or have your shoulders on display. Women must cover their head with a scarf, offered at the entrance.

Visiting the Blue Mosque can be quite a daunting experience, given the massive crowds. I highly recommend going in the morning, as early as you can, avoiding the masses of tourists.

Visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul

After visiting interiors, there’s a replica of the mosque in the patio, where you can see many details of the building itself, including the cascade of domes that make it such a monumental construction.

You can visit the Blue Mosque independently, or book a guided tour combined with Haghia Sophia, with my partners, getting all the historical and architectural information you need.

All photos by Travel with Pedro. All rights reserved.

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4 Responses

  1. Kathy Clark

    I’d love to visit Istanbul one day. This place is really beautiful! <3

    Reply

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