Located in the Europe side of İstanbul, the Blue Mosque is one of the most significant examples of classic Turkish architecture, which was constructed in the early 1660s.
I ensure you, you will easily realize the 20,000 blue tiles decorating its domed ceiling when you enter inside.
If you have the plan to visit this unique historical structure, here is an important guideline for you! To begin with, you need to know by which vehicle you can go; from the Europe side or the Asian side of İstanbul? All matters and you can follow all answers below.
Secondly, you should learn some historical pieces of information before visiting, like the Architect Mimar Sedefkâr Mehmed Ağa and you should know how to enter in terms of dress code and other matters to this sacred place.
After finalizing your visit, here are also some suggestions to do around the Blue Mosque such as High Sofia Museum and Topkapi Palace.
You will be informed at the end of the reading, but I still need to remain you the popular and so delicious Sultanahmet Koftesi not to return before testing!
About the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque)
The Blue Mosque, known also as Sultanahmet Camii in Turkish, has high historical value. The name of ‘blue’ comes from blue tiles surrounding the walls of interior design.
This Mosque visited by many tourists every year was built between 1609 and 1616 years which is the period during the rule of Ahmed I. As one of the popular tourist attraction in İstanbul, this structure comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasa and a hospice.
The number of visitors coming specifically to see this mosque is quite high nowadays. Because of this tourist attraction, and being that much active mosque, there is an arrangement to prevent any possible chaos: it’s closed to non-worshippers for a half hour or so during the five daily prayers.
If you approach the Blue Mosque from the west side of the mosque which is from the Hippodrome, you will see great architecture.
The Architecture of the Blue Mosque
The importance of architecture of the Blue Mosque comes from being a sign as a bridge between two periods: both Ottoman mosque and Byzantine church developments centuries.
While it combines some Byzantine elements of the neighboring Hagia Sophia with traditional Islamic architecture, it is also seen as the last great mosque of the classical period of Ottoman Empire.
In terms of Minarets, this one is the first one of the two mosques in Turkey that has six minarets, before the Sabancı Mosque in Adana.
Every four minarets standing at the corners of the Blue Mosque are fluted, pencil-shaped minarets with three balconies (called Serefe) and stalactite corbels, which makes the muezzin had to climb a narrow spiral staircase five times a day to announce the call to prayer. Yet, this system has changed as a public calling system.
As exterior part of the Blue Mosque, the central hexagonal fountain is rather small in contrast with the dimensions of the courtyard, and its semi-dome has a fine stalactite structure, crowned by a small ribbed dome.
There is also an iron chain hangs in the upper part of the court. This heavy iron chain entrance on the western side of the Mosque let the Sultan enter the court of the Blue Mosque on horseback.
The purpose of this is to make the sultan lower his head every time he enters the court so that he can show his humility in the face of the divine with a symbolic gesture.
When it comes to the inside of the Mosque, we see that the floors are covered with carpets. There are also many spacious windows confer a spacious impression, and each exedra of the Mosque has five windows, some of which are blind.
The other element inside is the mihrab. It is made of finely carved and sculptured marble. Also, the design is okay to make anyone see and hear the Imam when it is so crowded.
The interesting part of the design is about lamps. There are many lamps inside the Blue Mosque and they are covered with gold and gems. There are also ostrich eggs and crystal balls inside to make it more beneficial.
Lastly, there are more than 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles inside. They were produced in İznik, which represents the cultural and artistic zenith of the Ottoman Empire.
History of Istanbul’s Blue Mosque
As one of Istanbul’s most iconic historical sights and an essential part of the city’s skyline with its six magnificent minarets, the Blue Mosque was built by Architect Mimar Sedefkâr Mehmed Ağa, who was the last student of Architect Mimar Sinan, Turkey’s most celebrated architect between 1609-1616 during the period of I.Ahmed.
When Sultan Ahmed I get the construction of the mosque started, he was only 19 years old. That is why at first his decision was provoked by some Ottoman scholars and statesmen since they thought he had no right to build a mosque.
However, despite everything, he got the construction started in 1609 on the site of the palace of the Byzantine emperors, which faces the Hagia Sophia and the Hippodrome. In fact, it is a site of great symbolic significance.
We have some pieces of information about the opening ceremonies there from the library of the Topkapı Palace. It says the opening ceremonies were held in 1617.
Furthermore, Sultan Ahmed I experienced praying inside of his mosque although he has died only a few months later. Also, Mehmed Ağa died in 1617 at about the same time as his sultan after the construction the mosque was completed.
He did not leave workers alone during the process. For example, he visited the construction site at every opportunity and spent hours watching the erection of the mosque.
Finally, the total cost of the construction of the Sultan Ahmet Mosque was over 180 million akçes.
How to Get to the Blue Mosque from Asian Side
If you want to try going to the Blue Mosque from the Asian side, there are some easy options for you.
Take a Boat to Go Across
You can enjoy with Marmara sea beauty when going across by taking a boat. This boat that you are able to take from Kadikoy or Uskudar will take you Eminonu or Karakoy.
From both Eminonu and Karakoy, you can walk to the Blue Mosque, or as a second choice you can take modern tramway and get off the Blue Mosque station.
If you choose to try Metrobus to go across, European side of İstanbul, you should take Metrobus and get off one of the stations of modern tramway such as Edirnekapi.
After Edirnekapi, you should transfer the other tramway in Topkapi station. The name of the metro line that will take you directly to the Blue Mosque station is called as ‘Kabatas–Bagcilar Metro Line.’
The station you get off named the Blue Mosque is already just in front of the Blue Mosque entrance.
When coming from Uskudar or Kadikoy, Marmaray is also a good choice because it takes only 7-10 minutes.
You should get off Sirkeci station and then you should find the exit of the Blue Mosque. After that, you can walk through the mosque easily while visiting the old streets of İstanbul.
How to Get to the Blue Mosque from European Side
You are already on the same side as the Blue Mosque which is the European side and tries to go to this place. It is just easy to reach your destination.
Take Modern Tramvay
You can take modern tramway and get off the station named the Blue Mosque. There is already the entrance of the place you intend to visit, and here you go!
It is easy for you to take Marmaray if you are near Zeytinburnu in the European side. You can take Marmaray and get off Sirkeci. After finding the exit gate of the Blue Mosque, you will see the minarets of this mosque and the one of High Sofia Museums.
How to Visit the Blue Mosque?
There is no ticket or money demanded to visit this mosque. The only rule you need to obey when visiting is about clothes. There is a dress code when entering together with taking your shoes off. You can put your shoes in plastic bags provided at the entrance freely.
The reason for this rule is behind the practices of Islam. Muslims tradition is required taking shoes off when entering a mosque to make the place clean.
When it comes to the dress code, you will already see a board telling you what to do at the entrance. If you are women wear a head covering when entering to Blue Mosque.
Needless to say, there is no need to cover your face, but only your hair is where you should cover when entering.
And now, you are inside. You should remain quiet because there might be some people praying there.
Also, you can take a picture but it is better not to use flash because never forget that there is a place of worship so it is needed to be respectful and quiet.
Mosque Rules and Etiquette For Tourists
For some tourists, it might be a different experience to visit Blue Mosque. If you have some questions in your mind such as if there is an entrance fee, dress code, here below is the answers for you:
- You should plan your visit in terms of the time so that you better arrive mid-morning. The things you need to know is that pray happens five times a day with the first call to prayer at sunrise and the last one at nightfall.
The rule here is that the mosque closes for 90 minutes at each pray time so you might not be able to visit this mosque at prayer time or within a half hour after the call to prayer.
- How to enter this building is a bit different than other historical places. Before entering into the Blue Mosque, you need to take off your shoes and put in plastic bags provided at the entrance. It is a rule required of all persons as part of Muslim tradition when entering a mosque.
- For the dress code, it is different for women and men. If you are women wear a head covering when entering to Blue Mosque. Head coverings are available at the Blue Mosque entrance for free.
You should place the fabric cover on top of your head with equal portions hanging on both sides. You do not need to cover other parts of your face
Yet, it is okay to take one side from a piece of fabric and wrap it around your neck, tossing it behind your back with covering your shoulders. In short, you need to cover only hair.
For men, there is no rule to wear a speacific clothe when entering inside.
- After entering the mosque, you should remain quiet as there is a place of worship. Therefore, you should visit the mosque respectfully and quietly.
- If you want, you can do a donation to help maintain the Mosque at the exit door. It is not compulsory for sure, but if you make the donation you will get the official receipt for it.
Hippodrome of Constantinople
Before entering the mosque, you will see a huge area after the modern tram, including the place between the Blue Mosque and High Sofia Museum. Here is called a Hippodrome of Constantinople.
It is a public arena mainly for chariot races and this word comes from Greek. Hippos mean horse and dromos mean way since this place was used as home to gladiatorial games, official ceremonies, celebrations, protests, and torture to the convicts.
The capacity of the Hippodrome was approximately 40,000 and it was decorated with monuments that were brought in from across the empire including the Serpent Column.
What Else Nearby?
After visiting the Blue Mosque, you can visit many other historical and enchanted places near this mosque. For instance, there are Turkish and Islamic Art Museum, Hagia Sophia Museum, Underground Cistern, Arasta Bazaar, and Topkapi Palace in the heart of İstanbul’s peninsula.
However, you should know that unlike the Blue Mosque, you need a ticket or other types of tickets such as Museum Pass to be able to enter.
The Blue Mosque and the places nearby including Hippodrome of Constantinople is one of the great options you can ever have when roaming İstanbul.
Not only the Blue Mosque, but also some other choices like Great Place Museum, Topkapi Palace, and Underground Cistern are waiting for you there!
Please do not forget to try Sultanahmet Köftesi that Sultanahmet is famous for. This famous meatball is really delicious with its spicy chili sauce and it goes well with rice.
Have a nice visit and enjoy your delicious meal!