10 Interesting facts to know about the Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Mosques are so ubiquitous in Istanbul, but one that stands out among all the others is the majestic Blue Mosque or AKA Sultan Ahmed Mosque. The Blue Mosque was built across the square where the Istanbul’s most iconic structure Hagia Sophia is situated and together they have witnessed history’s greatest events which took place in Istanbul. The massiveness of the mosque’s dome and the height of its minarets is such that it can be seen from any vantage points of the city. But ever wondered why is it called as Blue Mosque although it doesn’t appear to be blue? Well, read along these interesting facts we have listed below about this historic monument of Istanbul:

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

1. History

The Blue Mosque was commissioned to be built by Sultan Ahmed I (hence the name of the mosque after him) during the year 1609 and was completed in 1617. The Sultan was only 19 years old then and visioned to build a mosque which would be better than Hagia Sophia. It is also said that Sultan as a gesture to boost the morale among his citizens and reassert Ottoman power after the Peace of Zsitvatorok treaty and losing the war with the Persians, commissioned the construction of this mosque.

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

2. Location

This massive mosque was built on the site of a former Byzantine Palace and a hippodrome and now it stands on top of a hill overlooking the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara.

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

3. Architecture

Blue mosque is a beautiful confluence of classic Islamic Ottoman and Byzantine Christian style of design by the architect Sedefkar Mehmet Aga who was the student of the renowned architect of then Istanbul Mimar Sinan. To define the magnificence of this mosque in one sentence, there is one massive dome, surrounded by eight secondary domes and six minarets.

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

4. Interior

What wooed me the most is the sheer grandeur and magnificent of the interior of this mosque, which is adorned with more than 20,000 Iznik blue tiles (hence the mosque gets its name). It is laid very intricately and creating a flowing pattern as if it flowed across the domes and pillars of the mosque. The sky-high ceilings occupied with domes and the streaks of sunlight seeping through the beautifully painted 200 sainted glass windows. It is astonishing to know that this humongous mosque can hold up to 10,000 people at a time.

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Blue Mosque, IstanbulBlue Mosque, IstanbulBlue Mosque, Istanbul

5. Myths

The price of these unique Iznik tiles was fixed by the Sultan’s decree at the time of the beginning of its construction but since the price of these tiles went up over the years and the quality of it reduced. To repel spiders and to avoid cobwebs inside the mosque, it is said that ostrich eggs are placed on the huge chandeliers. It is also said that many lamps inside this mosque were once covered with gold and precious gems.

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

6. Events

The construction of 6 minarets was the first of a kind for a mosque during those days other than the Ka’aba mosque in Mecca. This steered a lot of controversies which eventually made the Sultan build a seventh minaret at Mecca. One of the historically significant events was when Pope Benedict XVI visited the mosque in 2006 where he offered his prayers which showed the world that a harmonious unity can exist among the religions.

7. Legends

It was said that the Sultan actually asked the architect to build minarets of gold (altin in Turkish) but the architect mistook it for six (alti in Turkish), hence this mosque has six minarets which is one of its unique features. We also learned that the Sultan himself took part in laying the bricks of this mosque, to show his innate interest and dedication.

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

8. Experience

Even though the mosque is filled with hundreds of visitors and tourists who either come to see the beauty of the mosque or offer their prayers the whole ambiance inside is very unique. The calm and holy atmosphere inside brings a feeling of tranquility,  an experience which can’t be explained.

9. Hidden gems to look for

The tomb of the Sultan is found inside the mosque in a dedicated crypt. It is quite normal for us to get lost gazing at the beauty of this mosque once we are inside but don’t forget to check out the floral patterns on the mosaics on the upper levels which represent the Earth during spring and the Garden of Paradise. The Iznik tiles laid on the walls have fifty different tulip designs.

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

10. Visiting hours

Although this iconic monument of Istanbul is the most visited site, it is also a functioning mosque even today. So, do check the prayer timing before visiting, as the mosque is closed for visitors and tourists during the prayer time. Also, since this is a place of worship, visitors are required to remove their shoes (a bag will be providing at the entrance to carry it) and females are required to cover your hair. Entry to the mosque is free for all.

Blue Mosque, Istanbul



46 thoughts on “10 Interesting facts to know about the Blue Mosque, Istanbul”

  • I usually have come across many blogposts on a day in Istanbul, but this is my first one only about the magnificent Blue Mosque. The information you have provided is very useful. This is one of the prime sites in Istanbul. Loved the interior design pictures of the mosque.

  • I have never been to Turkey! Istanbul is one of the places I really want to visit apart from Antalya. Blue Mosque is really interesting. I love the architecture. I can’t wait to have a selfie on it.

    • Blue mosque is even more beautiful and splendid when seen in person 🙂 Why do you want to miss on a beautiful place like Antalya?

  • Turkey would be an absolute dream for me. Looking at all these pictures, I was completely dazzled by its beauty. I can’t even imagine what it would be like if I were there! Guess it’s time to book a trip 😉

  • Such a beautiful mosque, and now that name finally makes sense.. I saw some Iznik tiles at the British Museum once and the color was incredible. I can only imagine how it must look when you’ve got entire walls filled with them.

  • This is a greatly timed post for me, as we’re planning a visit to Turkey next year. That’s incredible the Blue Mosque can hold up to 10,000 people, that’s insanely huge! It’s good that you point out it’s still a functioning mosque too; we should all be respectful of this as travelers.

  • The blue mosque is truely magnificent and synonymous with Istanbul. I had the pleasure to visit it few years ago and was just stunning. Love the work of the interior and the colours. Found it very peaceful and spend some time inside. Do keep in mind timings as closed during prayers. Great place to visit I must say. Brought back memories

  • The Blue Moque is completely gorgeous, I love the details of the Iznik blue tiles and I love that you shared the fact that the Sultan contributed to the building of the project as well. What a sign of his dedication. I was also intrigued by the fact that ostrich eggs keep the spiders away! Who knew?

  • Blue Mosque is the most visited beautiful architectural attraction in Turkey. I loved the blue Iznik tiles and rich interiors. The domes and minarets are very photogenic. Really atmosphere inside the mosque is very peaceful and tranquil. Thanks for sharing all facts about Blue Mosque.

  • I have been to Blue mosque few times and didn’t know all these details. It’s amazing piece of art and so big but I didntk know it can hold so many thouasadns of people inside. And also didn’t know about the connection with Mecca with the minarets. Thank you for this informative post!

    • Thank you Anita, Blue mosque has so many interesting facts to learn about it that it will surely blow one’s mind! 🙂

  • What magnificient architecture! No wonder it is one of Istanbul’s most popular attractions. You mention that it can hold up to 10,000 people at a time, so I can imagine its size and grandeuer. Must be an awesome experience to visit it.

  • It’s always nice to know a little more history about the most well-known sites in a city. The interior of the blue mosque is amazing! I can’t believe all the work that most have went into laying all those tiles!

  • I visited Istanbul several times and I knew most of these facts. However, it was still a very nice read. I think everyone should read this before visiting Istanbul. It’s a great way to start learning about one of the city’s most important attractions

  • The blue mosque of Istanbul looks absolutely gorgeous. Your amazing photography brings it to life! The intricate islamic art on the walls is a sight to behold. I really likes to read the history and trivia around the mosque. The pope visiting the mosque to offer prayers is indeed remarkable

  • Heard a lot about it. This is definitely the most important site in Istanbul. Great to read the myth accompanied with the site from you. I would surely visit this place once I plan my Istanbul itinerary soon.

  • Wow, I was just about to google about Blue Mosque and am glad i landed on your page. Your pictures are amazing. I really love everything about middle eastern countries and Istanbul is such a beautiful place which always fascinates me. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful place and inspiring us to travel

  • I can’t tell you how much I want to visit Istanbul and its Blue Mosque. I am very much fascinated by the history and the tales from the past. I am speechless each time I see the intricate details of the architecture and those blue tiles and the designs inside the mosque. You have given some fascinating facts. Can’t wait to see it myself. You have captured some amazing photogeaphs.

    • Thank you Parnashree, we had the same feeling before we visited Istanbul! And now we want to go there again to explore more…:)

  • I’ve never been to Istanbul but I really want to go! I have bookmarked your article because I love how in depth you went about the Blue Mosque. As a history and politics graduate I find these kind of articles a buzz. I liked your first part about how he wanted to build a better mosque than the Hagia Sofia. Do you think he manged it??

    • According to us Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque are uncomparable and both structures are beautiful in its own way! 🙂

  • I love the Grand Mosque and despite wishing it thrice I can never get enough of it. The sheer grandeur and magnificent interiors are awe-inspiring. My camera couldn’t stop clicking its sky-high ceilings and painted glass windows. And, boy holding 10,000 people at a time is a big thing.

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