Tuesday, July 09, 2024

2024 Turkey: The Sultan Ahmet Mosque (The Blue Mosque) I

The Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Turkish: Sultan Ahmet Camii) was built between A.D. 1609 and 1617 in Istanbul, Turkey.  Commissioned by Sultan Ahmed I (ruled A.D. 1603 to 1617), it occupies a plot of land which was originally part of the Hippodrome (bleachers and the old Imperial Box), and in Ottoman times had become a location for palaces of various Grand Viziers.  The mosque was built under somewhat of a cloud:  the tradition was that new Imperial mosques should be built only from funds gained from conquest, and Ahmed I had no conquests.  He went ahead and commissioned the mosque; although initially under interdict of the religious body of scholars known as the ulema, it came to be seen as an architectural wonder and won over both the ulema and public opinion.

(Interior of the Blue Mosque)

The mosque was designed by the architect Sedefkar Mehmed Agha, himself a student of the very famous architect Mimar Sinan.  The Sultan Ahmet Mosque consumed the remaining years of Sedefkar Mehmet's life; he died around the time the mosque was finally finished.

(The Main dome)

The mosque is more colloquial known as "The Blue Mosque" due to the presence of thousands of fired ceramic tiles which have been painted, many with blue. The tiles, known as Iznik tiles (their region of origin, originally the ancient city of Nicea) number over 21,000 in number.  Due to the nature of the material the tiles were made of (higher in quartz), they are more expensive and more beautiful than typical tiles.  

(View of the smaller domes)

Somewhat like Hagia Sophia, the mosque consists of a large central dome which rises 141ft/43 m above the main floor and is 77 ft/23.5 m in diameter. Four main pillars support the dome, and lesser pendentive help transfer the weight to lesser domes.  The floor space of the mosque proper 210 x 236 ft/65 x 72 m.

(There are a total of 260 windows in the mosque, which allow natural light in)

(The Main Dome)

(Looking straight up at the Main Dome)

(Apparently some of the finest tiles are higher up in the mosque where visitors cannot easily see them)


  1. Nylon1212:53 PM

    Only new mosques could be built from $$ taken by conquest, good to continue the conquests eh?

    1. Nylon12, the proviso seemed to apply specifically to imperially sponsored mosques (e.g., by the Sultan). Ahmet I's predecessors all had conquests and thus mosques; he apparently did not have one and felt (for whatever reason) that one was not likely to occur.

  2. Wow, that's about as breathtaking as a man-made structure can get.

    1. Leigh, it really was. I have heard of the Blue Mosque; I had no idea what to expect. Whatever I expected, it was not this.


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