Istanbul • Sultanahmet Mosque - Ottoman Gem of Spirituality

In the embrace of Istanbul's historic skyline, the Sultanahmet Mosque stands as a testament to architectural ambition and religious devotion. Often referred to as the "Blue Mosque" due to its intricate blue Iznik tiles adorning its interior, this 17th-century marvel was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I. Bridging the splendor of Byzantine and Ottoman empires, its six slender minarets pierce the heavens, a unique feature that distinguished it in its time. The mosque's cascading domes and vast courtyard echo the grandeur of the Byzantine Hagia Sophia nearby, reflecting a continuity of Istanbul's spiritual tapestry. Inside, the mesmerizing symphony of blue tiles, illuminated by 260 windows, creates a serene ambiance for reflection. Beyond its physical beauty, the Sultanahmet Mosque remains a vibrant place of worship and an enduring symbol of Istanbul's rich tapestry of history.

Istanbul • Sultanahmet Mosque ( Turkey,  )

Istanbul • Sultanahmet Mosque

Istanbul • Sultanahmet Mosque ( Turkey,  )

Istanbul • Sultanahmet Mosque

Istanbul • Sultanahmet Mosque ( Turkey,  )

Istanbul • Sultanahmet Mosque

The History of Sultanahmet Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey


Standing majestically in the heart of Istanbul, the Sultanahmet Mosque, commonly referred to as the "Blue Mosque" due to the exquisite blue tiles of Iznik adorning its interior, is a testament to the grandeur of the Ottoman Empire. As both an architectural marvel and a historic monument, it represents the deep spirituality of the city.


Origins and Construction

Constructed between the years 1609 and 1616 under the decree of Sultan Ahmet I, the mosque signifies the zenith of Ottoman architecture and Islamic art. The young sultan, inspired with an aspiration to build a house of worship that would rival the splendor and majesty of the neighboring Hagia Sophia, entrusted this monumental task to the skilled architect Sedefkâr Mehmet Ağa, a disciple of the renowned Sinan.


Architectural Highlights

A defining feature of the Sultanahmet Mosque is its six minarets, a rarity indicating opulence. At the time of its construction, this posed a controversy as the Kaaba in Mecca, the most sacred Islamic shrine, also sported six minarets. To address this, Sultan Ahmet I funded the construction of a seventh minaret for the Kaaba.


Inside, visitors are met with the stunning blue tiles that cover the walls, sourced from the town of Iznik. These tiles feature various floral and geometric patterns, imparting a serene ambiance throughout.


Anecdotes and Legends

An intriguing legend surrounds the choice to feature as many minarets. According to popular lore, the sultan is said to have asked his architect for minarets of "altın" (gold). However, the architect purportedly misunderstood and heard "altı" (six), leading to the mosque's unique design.



The Sultanahmet Mosque remains an iconic emblem of Istanbul, bearing witness to the city's rich history and cultural tapestry. More than an architectural wonder, it serves as a center for devotion and reflection for countless believers. Every element of its structure narrates a tale of ambition, faith, and splendor, harking back to an era where art and spirituality were inextricably intertwined.

The Sultanahmet Mosque, often referred to as the "Blue Mosque" due to the blue tiles adorning its interior, stands as an iconic beacon in Istanbul, encapsulating the zenith of Ottoman architecture.


Architectural Features



One of the distinguishing traits of this mosque is its six minarets, a count seldom seen for a mosque. This was a symbol of grandeur and prestige for the Ottoman Empire at the time.


Interior and Iznik Tiles

Inside, the walls are clad with blue tiles from Iznik, renowned for their quality and beauty. These tiles, with their floral and geometric patterns, provide a serene ambiance within the sanctuary.


Main Dome

The mosque is crowned with an imposing central dome, flanked by several smaller half-domes. This is a prominent example of how Ottoman architecture was influenced by Byzantine architecture, especially that of the nearby Hagia Sophia.


Prayer Spaces

The spacious interior of the mosque is designed to accommodate a large number of worshippers. Its open plan layout, with minimal columns, offers an unobstructed view of the imam during prayers.



The Sultanahmet Mosque, with its blend of striking architectural features, remains an emblematic monument of Istanbul and a masterpiece of the Ottoman era.

Monument profile
Sultanahmet Mosque
Monument category: Mosque
Monument family: Mosque, Minaret or Madrasa
Monument genre: Religious
Cultural heritage: Islamic
Geographic location: Istanbul • Turkey
Construction period: 17th century AD
This monument in Istanbul is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1985 and is part of the serial nomination "Historic Areas of Istanbul".

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