The Marmara Bodrum


The Marmara Antalya


The Marmara Taksim

Istanbul / Taksim

The Marmara Pera

Istanbul / Pera

The Marmara Şişli

Istanbul / Sisli

The Marmara Suadiye

Istanbul / Suadiye

The Marmara Esma Sultan

Istanbul / Esma Sultan

The Marmara Park Avenue

NY / Park Avenue

Blue Mosque

From The Marmara Taksim
20 Min
50 min
Address Binbirdirek, At Meydanı Cd No:10, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul

All Day
(Except Prayer Times)

Exterior view of the Blue Mosque with The Marmara Sea behind

The intricately tiled Blue Mosque in Istanbul is a living monument to the Ottoman Empire, whose powerful, fascinating history is built into the very foundations of the mosque’s 400-plus-year-old facade. 

An imperial mosque constructed by 17th century Ottoman sultan Ahmed I, the Blue Mosque has five main domes and six towering minarets. Inside, it is covered in hand-painted blue tiles — hence the name. It is formally known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii), but the near-magic of the tiles over the centuries have cemented the structure as the Blue Mosque. It stands next to the Hagia Sophia Mosque, a Byzantine-era cathedral (turned mosque) that is another of Istanbul’s most famous destinations. 

Boasting grand architecture and exquisite interiors, the Blue Mosque is well worth a visit. Continue reading to learn more about its Ottoman origins and how you can see it for yourself. 

Interior of the Blue Mosque, islamic patterns on the ceiling

History of the Blue Mosque 

Around 1609, Sultan Ahmed I decided to construct the Blue Mosque as proof of the lasting power of the Ottoman Empire, which was then embroiled in a long war with Persia. Its location was meant to compliment that of the Hagia Sophia — but also potentially to surpass its beauty. Ahmed I paid for the mosque out of his Treasury, which angered many who believed he should have paid for it using the winnings of war (of which he had none).  

The mosque was built anyway, though Ahmed I died soon after its completion. The funding for the Blue Mosque was not its only controversy, however. Many thought that the plan to build six minarets — thin towers from which Muslims are often called to prayer — was too arrogant, because the only mosque with six minarets at the time was the Great Mosque of Mecca, one of the main destinations of the Hajj, a holy pilgrimage for Muslims.  

Legend has it that the six minarets were a misunderstanding, though, and that the architect misheard the Sultan’s directions. In Turkish, altı minare means ‘six minarets’ and altın minareler means ‘gold minarets’; folk tales report that Ahmed I meant to ask for gold minarets.  

Inside the Blue Mosque 

Both inspired by the Hagia Sophia and incorporating the designs of the Ottoman Empire’s classical period, the Blue Mosque is an impressive feat of majesty. It contains over 20,000 hand-painted ceramic tiles featuring floral designs, along with some 200 stained glass windows. In the evenings, the low light that filters in turns the entire place a deep, vibrant blue. The domes are also decorated with verses from the Quran.  

The nearly 24-meter high domed ceiling is dotted with chandeliers, which currently hold ostrich eggs to deter spiderwebs. Outside of the five main domes, there are eight secondary domes, all of which coalesce into a main nave. The Blue Mosque’s mihrab, or the niche in the wall that indicates the direction of Mecca, is carved of marble. In a corner of the building you can find the loggia, a sort of covered gallery, which was reserved for royals.  

All in all, the interior of the Blue Mosque is stunning, so vivid it seems like it cannot possibly date back to the 1600s.  

How to Visit 

However, it is a working mosque, so it is closed during prayer times (and for about an hour before prayer time starts, and for half an hour after it ends). Official prayer times can be found here  There is no entrance fee, since it is a working mosque. Make sure to follow the dress code, though — covered hair and legs for women, and long pants for men.

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