The Sultan Ahmed Mosque also called the popular Blue Mosque has a splendid history behind. In Turkish, it is named as Sultanahmet Camii and it is situated in Istanbul. The mosque has a lot of blue tiles all in the interiors of the place. This historical mosque was founded and built from 1609 to around 1616 when Ahmed I was ruling the state. Similar to the other mosques of the world, this one also has a madrasa inside, a hospice, and the tomb dedicated to the founding person.
In addition to this, the magnificent interiors of the mosque makes it one of the popular attractions of the entire Istanbul. However, the tourists should know that it is a mosque where daily prayers are made, five times in a day. And during that time, the mosque is closed for the non-worshippers. If you are interested in checking out the architecture of this amazing place, then you should go to the west side or the Hippodrome. Even if you are a non-muslim, visit the west to check out the mosque.
Architecture of the mosque
If you carefully look at the design of this mosque, you will find two styles from the two popular centuries. One is the Byzantine church development and the other is the Ottoman mosque. You can find the traditional Islamic components here along with the Byzantine elements from the Hagia Sophia that makes it one of the greatest mosques from the Ottoman period that mesmerizes the tourists even today. The ideas of architecture were from the Sinan master who aimed for splendor, majesty, and huge size for the mosque. In the blue mosque, you will find four minarets at the four corners of the place.
Each one has a pencil shaped structure with fluted design and three balconies. These balconies are called Serefe. There are also stalactite corbels plus two balconies on the sides. Earlier, the prayer caller or the muezzin used to climb the narrow staircase to announce for five times a day. But now, the advanced announcement system is used to call that is heard from every part of the city. The announcement will be echoed by the different mosques that are located in the same place. Once the announcement is made, you will witness large crowds including tourists and Turks to join the evening prayer. Make sure you do not miss the sun set time of the mosque as it is amazingly illuminated with flood colorful lights at every corner.
About the renovations of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque
The Blue Mosque of Istanbul is an active mosque and also a famous tourist attraction of Turkey. However, in the year 2016, an announcement was made about the renovations here. From there, plenty of renovations were done inside and outside the mosque. It was known that the renovation projects would take more than 3 years because it was planned on a massive scale. 2020 was the year given when the mosque would complete all its renovations.
Initially, around 30 years ago, there were some renovations done. But they couldn’t reach the underground level of the project. Hence, now the groundwater levels were to be checked and renovated as they were associated with the drainage system and the foundation of the mosque. In addition to this, marble overlaying in the exteriors of the mosque was also planned. And a covering on the lead of the dome was to be replaced. In addition to this, there was restoration planned at the toilets, courtyard, and the minarets.
Moving on, the renovation project also included converting the ceramic blue colored tiles that were placed all over. Also, some years ago, some tiles of the mosque were stolen. Those areas were to be filled. On some tiles, there were Quranic inscriptions, hence the replicas of the same were to be added. Hence, it was considered the most extensive construction or reconstruction plan of the mosque.
In the year 2018 when the renovations were being done, they had to close the mosque for all the visitors. It happened from 1st march to 15th may. However, daily prayers were being done by the Muslims. Now, the mosque is open to the visitors but only for one time. As the project is still being done, there may be changes for the visitors’ timing, so you need to check before coming here.
Things to remember when visiting Sultan Ahmed Mosque
The mosque is not open for the non-worshippers whenever the prayers happen during the day, which means five times. You should know the timings of the prayers; they happen two hours before the dawn, once at the dawn, once at afternoon, midday, and sunset, and finally before the last light. Basically, the timings are set as per the sun movements. You may visit the place before mid-morning or anytime between the prayers. If you are a visitor, then go from the western side as you can get the perfect view of the stunning place.
You shouldn’t wear shoes when entering the mosque. Also, if you wish to carry, then take plastic bags from the counter to keep your shoes. Men should wear long trousers or modest dresses. And women should also cover themselves fully and their head should have a scarf. If you do not have it, you can take it from the counter. All you have to do is place the fabric on your head and wrap it around your neck so it covers your head, neck, and shoulders.
So, if you have made up your mind to visit this spectacular mosque, you should make your bookings. You may start with reserving your flight tickets to Istanbul and then book the best hotels in Istanbul for your stay. As it is a touristic place, you can find a huge variety of hotels from budget and economic hotels to the lavish five star hotels and resorts. However, making prior booking is advised so you do not have any hassle when you land in the city. So, enjoy your Istanbul journey.