Dominating the skyline of Istanbul with its ancient domes and slender, balconied minarets, Sultan Ahmed Cami Mosque otherwise known as the Blue Mosque for its blue-tiled interior, is widely considered the masterpiece of Islamic Ottoman architecture.
The historical mosque was built between 1609 and 1616 years during the rule of Ahmed I. He instructed the architect Sedefkar Mehmet Aga to create a complex that would rival its neighbour Haghia Sophia in scale and grandeur. At that moment, the Church of the Divine Wisdom was the epitome of Byzantine time and the most venerated mosque in Istanbul.
Today, the grey-stoned mosque with its distinctive ensemble of six minarets and magnificent series of domes and semi-domes is one of Istanbul‘s top attractions and an active place of prayer for thousands who visit from around the world.
To fully appreciate the building we approached from the Hippodrome side. Passing through the archway, a porticoed and colonnaded courtyard lead us to the interior of the mosque. At the center of rectangular courtyard stood the purification fountain which is hexagonal in shape with six columns.
As I walked through the mosque, I remember being utterly fascinated by its overwhelming size, majesty and splendor. More than 20,000 hand-painted Iznik tiles with floral patterns -roses, tulips, hibiscuses, peonies- adorned the interior in brilliant blue, green, and turquoise hues. The soft light emanating from low-hung chandeliers highlighted the beauty of the mosque.
The exquisite tiles, the perfect symmetry, the intense central dome flanked by four large semi-domes and the 260 stained-glass windows make the grandiose complex one of the marvels of the world.
The Most Perfect View
I could spend all day at one of Istanbul’s rooftop terraces overlooking The Blue Mosque and the massive dome of Hagia Sophia, but the most enchanting moment is when the sun goes down…
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