Sultanahmet Cami, Istanbul, Turkey

  March 01, 2022   Read time 1 min
Sultanahmet Cami, Istanbul, Turkey
Turkey's most famous mosque is Istanbul's Sultanahmet Mosque (Sultanahmet Cami), more commonly called the Blue Mosque by visitors.

It sits right in the center of Sultanahmet, the city's old town district, with its domes and minarets a direct architectural rival to the Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) dominating the opposite side of Sultanahmet Square.

Built by Ottoman architect Sedefkâr Mehmet Ağa during the reign of Sultan Ahmet I (reigned 1603-1617), the mosque was a stamp of Ottoman imperial power, boasting a controversial six minarets (equalling the same number as Mecca's grand mosque).

The massive prayer hall uses 21,000 Iznik tiles to decorate the interior. The mosque gained its moniker from the prevalent blue tones used on the tiles.

Although the lavish use of tiles gains most of the attention, make sure to note the white marble minber (pulpit) with its delicate carvings, and the mihrab (the wall niche that indicates the direction of Mecca), which contains a piece of the Kabaa's sacred stone from Mecca.

The mosque is a popular Istanbul tourist attraction and so can be crowded with visitors during the day, particularly in summer. For a quieter visiting experience, come in the evening. Touristic visitors enter the prayer hall from the south door, not the main entrance.

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