The Sultan Ahmet Mosque has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Istanbul. It is the national mosque of Turkey and is one of the several mosques known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior.
The Blue Mosque, while it may appear to be called that because of having a slight blue tinge to its outside, is actually called that because of the intricate blue tiles that decorate the inside of the mosque.
It was built between 1609 and 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. Like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice.
The mosque was to be built on the site of the palace of the Byzantine emperors, facing the Hagia Sophia. The design of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is the culmination of two centuries of both Ottoman mosque and Byzantine church development. The most important element in the interior of the mosque is the mihrab, which is made of finely carved and sculptured marble, with a stalactite niche and a double inscriptive panel above it.
The Blue Mosque is one of two mosques in Turkey that have six minarets. A seventh minaret was erected on the mosque in Mecca after the Sultan Ahmed Mosque was built.
Entrance is free, but be careful when you go – Muslims pray five times a day and the mosque closes for about half an hour each time. The best time to visit the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is in the morning, after first prayer call and before the noon prayer call.
Please remember that this is a place of worship. You get a scarf to cover your head/shoulders/legs with at the door.
If you stay in the area, it is a great opportunity to snap some shots of the mosque at night.